Good News for Adults with Divorced Parents

Though adults with divorced parents are up to 200% more likely to divorce than their peers from intact families,1 two books offer us good news.  One is The Good News About Marriage by Shaunti Feldhahn. The other is Daughters of Divorce: Overcome the Legacy of Your Parents’ Breakup and Enjoy a Happy, Long-Lasting Relationship.

Ddaughters-of-divorce-bk-gaspardaughters of Divorce was written by researcher Terry Gaspard and her daughter, Tracy Clifford—both ACDs. It’s a bold, unpolitically correct look at the impact of divorce on daughters. Gaspard’s purpose was to “create a guide that helps daughters of any age overcome the unique legacy of divorce, so they can establish healthy, happy, and long-lasting relationships.”2

With ample research, stories from those she interviewed, and personal reflections from Gaspard and her daughter, Daughters of Divorce is a practical and hopeful book for any woman with divorced parents.

Their seven steps to a successful relationship begin with the sobering and daunting task of restoring our faith in love.3 After reading this goal I asked, “Do we even realize we’ve lost our faith in love?” Gaspard answers this with numerous examples of clients and others who have done just that. Some realizing they have killed Cupid. Others chasing, but never catching him.

A major strength of Gaspard’s work is how she peels back the layers of lies women with divorced parents believe and systematically leads them on a path toward overcoming those lies. While heartily recommending this powerful book, be advised that her views of self-esteem are not rooted in the fact that God created us, therefore our worth is intrinsic—regardless of how we may feel.

The other good news comes from The Good News About Marriage.4 good-news-about-marriage-bk-feldhahnFeldhahn soundly debunks the 50%-of-marriages-end-in-divorce myth, and offers new insights into marriage that have gone unreported by most media.

For example, did you know that nearly 80% of married couples report being happy in their marriages? Have you heard that attending church regularly can lower your chance of divorce by 25-50%?6 Probably not. The Good News About Marriage is full of marriage encouraging and marriage strengthening information like this.

It’s great news for adult children of divorce (who tend to be fearful of divorce) that things are much better on the marriage front than we’ve been led to believe. For those who desire solid relationships, but doubt it’s possible, Gaspard and Feldhahn declare, FULFILLING RELATIONSHIPS AND MARRIAGES ARE POSSIBLE…FOR EVERYONE!!

 

Why am I Running From My Prayer Closet? – A Sunday Snippet

Forgiveness by Tiffany ScantleburyI try to fit in my daily prayer routine before my crazy days begin. Too often the pressures of my upcoming schedule create a not too subtle urgency to finish so I can start doing the “important” things that are stacked up like planes waiting to land at an airport.

One morning while praying, I was feeling the urge to get a move on when God’s Holy Spirit asked me where I was running from.

Huh? What do you mean, where am I running from?
You’re anxious to start conquering your list right?
Yeah. So?
Where are you running from?
What are you talking about? I don’t get it.Time for reflection by Hans G Backman
You’ve got a full schedule today? 
Over full
Kind of tired?
Exhausted.
Seems like you’re a little depressed too.
Well, yeah.
Feeling like nobody cares or understands.
Well, yeah.
See no end to this crazy season you’re in and want an escape.
…yes.

Okay. Do you believe that Abba Father, the Creator of the Universe, is with you in your prayer closet?
Yes.
Does He listen to you?
Yes.
Does He judge you?
No!
Does He encourage you?
Yes.
Does He remind you of how special He thinks you are?
Yes.
Does He offer you peace now and for your entire day?
Yes.
Does He wipe your tears?
Yes.
Does He offer you strength to make it through your day?
Yes. He says through Christ I can do all things1
Does He give you wisdom for your to-do list?
Yes, very often.
Does He love you?
Yes.
Does He love you?
…yes, deeply.
Does He love you?
…….yes. Unconditionally.

So when you hurry from your prayer closet, where are you running from?
Well…I guess… from a place where I’m totally accepted, totally loved, totally adored, totally supported, totally equipped, where I can be myself without judgement, where I can talk with God as long as I want and He never tires of me. That’s what I”m rushing from. Guess I’ve got things backwards, huh?
Praying woman hands by Long ThiênYou tell me.
Thanks for the perspective check.
Just doing my job.
Thank you.
See you tomorrow?
You can count on it!
 

1Philippians 4:13

Images
Forgiveness by Tiffany Scantlebury
Time for reflection by Hans G Backman
Woman and Bible – Prayer a Powerful Weapon by abcdz2000

Important Help for Divorced Individuals

DivorceCareStarting in September, two important classes will be offered in areas around the US and Canada. DivorceCare and DivorceCare for Kids are 12 week programs that offer support for people either going through divorce or in the post divorce phase. Key benefits of DivorceCare groups include:

  • people who understand your hurts, emotions and painful experiences!
  • helpful, practical information from DivorceCare DVD videos that feature top experts on divorce and recovery subjects and case studies of people just like you, who have been through the divorce experience.
  • the chance to talk about your experiences.
  • becoming part of a “family.”

DivorceCare topics include anger, loneliness, loss, depression, forgiveness, new relationships, finances, children in divorce, reconciliation and “moving on.” Divorce Care for KidsDivorceCare for Kids addresses the same topics simultaneously, but in a small group of kids and at an age appropriate level. It also covers the issues from a child’s perspective.

Combined, these powerful classes give the parent and child common ground for conversations that can strengthen their relationship in a difficult time. I strongly encourage anyone who has experienced a divorce (even if it’s been a couple years) to check out a group by going to www.divorcecare.org.

 

 

 

The Olympics, ACOD’s, and the Fear of Conflict

Kseniia Afanaseva on the floor by Jon ConnellEvery two years I fantasize about standing on the Olympic podium and collecting my medal. Though I break into a sweat walking to the mailbox, I still form imaginary tears as the Star Spangled Banner plays for me and my new world record. But as I was watching athletes go through the Gymnastics Floor routine, I noticed something.

In the floor routine, the gymnast runs really fast, flips, twists, twirls, flips again, then backwards, and lands on his or her feet. It’s truly amazing. But sometimes the announcer will sigh because at the end of the flip run the gymnast accidently lands with a foot on the out-of-bounds line. Suddenly—no gold, no silver, no bronze—just a long trip home.

The connection? Research shows this is how adult children of divorce (ACOD’s) treat conflict. One mess-up and we think we’re out. Consequently, we have huge fears and often overreact when we face conflict.

The end is here
For example, when my wife and I were dating we had a fight—in my eyes, a big fight. So big, I thought we were done. My close friends (all from intact families) said  it was a skirmish and not the end of the world, but in my mind, I had stepped over the line and was out of bounds—no gold, no silver, no, bronze, and no girlfriend anymore. I even threw away her pictures. You can imagine my surprise when two weeks later she called like nothing had happened. (We were in a long distance relationship and those were the pre-smartphone, PC, and internet days, so two weeks wasn’t like it is today.)

Looking back, I was petrified of conflict.  When it occurred, I made the assumption so many ACOD make, the end of the world has come. I’ve even heard of people who, in similar situations, left and never told the girl or boyfriend why. They assumed the worse and never checked to see if it was true. While this sounds extreme, it’s common for ACOD to filter life through a conflict-is-catastrophic grid.

Conflict is good?
This is due primarily to parental divorce being an example of conflict gone awry. But conflict shouldn’t be feared. It clears the air, builds intimacy, lowers stress in relationships, and increases your confidence when you share your real feelings without things blowing up. But how do we get to that point? By praying, presenting, and practicing.

  1. Pray to God about your fear. Pray for wisdom before a situation with potential conflict. talk to me my love by Indra GalboPray that the Holy Spirit will remind you of key scriptures that deal with fear. My favorite is “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.”1
  2. Present your fears to your spouse or friend so they become aware of how you’re thinking. If they are from an intact family, it’s likely they don’t understand your fears, but are very willing to help.
  3. Practice facing conflict. Start with small things. It could be as simple as saying you don’t like going out on Friday nights because you’re tired from work. Small victories will build your confidence and lower the chances of conflict being catastrophic.

I hope this helps. I’d write more, but pole vaulting is on, and I have a medal to accept.

 

1Proverbs 29:25, NIV.

Images
Kseniia Afasnasevea on the floor by Jon Connell
Woman on Phone – thinkstock
talk to me my love by Indra Galbo

Getting Along, Is That Too Much to Ask?

It’s not uncommon for a divorced parent to tell me they wish their daughter or son would get over their divorce and move on. The motivation is usually loving concern. However, there are also those who wish their adult children would get over it so they can get on with their own life—guilt free. After all, is that too much to ask?

On the other side, a chief complaint of many adult children of divorce (ACOD) is they can’t get their mom, dad, and step-parent in the same room without the fear or World War III breaking out. Why can’t everyone behave for just one hour? Is that too much to ask?

When kids become endangered species by Frits Ahlefeldt-Laurvig cartoonIt might be too much to ask
Part of the healing process for ACOD’s is accepting that their parents don’t (and some won’t) understand what we experienced regarding their divorce. Surprisingly, this includes parents who are ACOD’s. To overcome this, some therapists suggest a time of sharing and asking parents questions about the divorce can help with this. We’ll look at that idea in the future, but for now we must realize that our parents’ lack the knowledge and/or the incentive to understand us may not change.
Freedom by John MooreBut just as important to the healing process is understanding our parents’ point of view. While this may seem sacrilegious, grasping their perspective can help us avoid unrealistic (and possibly even unfair) expectations. I remember how annoyed I was with my mother when she was crotchety with my dad and stepmoms. I was well into my adult years before I pondered how I’d be if my wife left me and remarried.

Would it be like high school or college when you broke up and your ex started dating someone else? Did you want to be chummy with their new squeeze? Imagine facing them all the time—like at every family event.

Yes, Mom was clueless to the divorce’s impact on us. But only in the last few years have I appreciated the sacrifice and strength it took her to just “be crotchety” while breaking bread with the enemy instead of hitting them with a brick.

The answer lies with us
So is it too much to ask for us for a little more grace with our parents’ humanness? It’s not easy—I know. Bible with Cross Shadow by David CampbellBut it’s not our job to change hearts. That’s God’s job. It’s our job to submit to Him so He can do a healing work in our hearts. Also when we submit to God, His love can flow through us and touch our parents—which also does a healing work in our hearts.

Being misunderstood can be painful for both sides. God knows that: the biggest misunderstanding in history killed His Son. The Bible also tells us that “love covers a multitude of sins.”I encourage you to push through the hurt of misunderstanding and allow God’s love to bring healing to you and your parents. That is not too much to ask.

11 Peter 3:8. NLT

Photos
When kids become endangered species by Frits Ahlefeldt-Laurvig cartoon
Freedom by John Moore
Bible with Cross Shadow by David Campbell

What do ACOD’s Think About Life, Marriage, and God?

Elizabeth Marquardt

Here is a powerful video by researcher and ACOD, Elizabeth Marquardt. She wrote “Between Two Worlds” and whether you are “religious” or not, Marquardt offers a vivid view of the lives of adult children of divorce. Click the link below to watch the video.

I’d also be interested in your thoughts. Does she capture the ACOD experience? Could you relate to the ACOD in the video?

Between Two Worlds: The Spiritual Lives of Children of Divorce

The Truth Will Set You Free

Divorce nightmare adultchildrenofdivorce.netWe began this series by challenging ourselves to see which adult children of divorce group we belong to (See Four Types of ACD). Then we questioned if we really wanted to be healed from the emotional damage our parents’ divorce may have caused. While this seemed like a dumb question, we saw how many people don’t.

The next step, is to actively pursue the truth. This is vital because during and after the time of our parents’ divorce a plethora of lies were subtlety programed into our brains.

  • Forgiven by Ray WewerkaI’m not worth anything
  • Everybody will let me down
  • Marriage is a crapshoot at best
  • I’m going to protect myself because people will always hurt you
  • I have to take abuse to receive love
  • Things are good now, but it will collapse soon. It always does.
  • God is good to everyone else, but He obviously skipped my childhood home.

These are all distortions of the truth. Everybody won’t let us down. All spouses aren’t unfaithful. So we need truth to stand on. But where do we find dependable truth? Whose truth is truth? Dr. Phil? Dear Abby? Entertainment Tonight?

That brings us to “the truth will set you free” quote that so many of us are familiar with. Unfortunately, few have heard the full quote. “Jesus said, If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’”1

The teachings of Jesus are the teachings found in the Bible. It’s this truth that can set us free. We canHeart Bible by Honorbound overcome unforgiveness in our heart when we see how much God has forgiven in our lives. We can crush the lie that we aren’t loved or are unlovable when we see the amazing truth about God, Jesus, and us this scripture shares:

Christ arrives right on time to make this happen. He didn’t, and doesn’t, wait for us to get ready. He presented himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready. And even if we hadn’t been so weak, we wouldn’t have known what to do anyway. We can understand someone dying for a person worth dying for, and we can understand how someone good and noble could inspire us to selfless sacrifice. But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him.”2   Knowing the creator of the universe loves us this much  should be life changing.

And it is on this foundation of truth we will deal with anger, fear, and other issues parental divorce can create. However, if you would like more information on God and His truth please go to peacewithGod.net.

 

1John 8:31-32, NIV
2Romans 8:6-8, The Message

Photos:
Divorce Nightmare – Dreamstine
Forgiven by Ray Wewerka
Heart Bible  by Honorbound
freedom…! by Kaylan Chakravarthy