Time for a Seasonal Reboot

One day my phone decided to stay in an update loop. Tech support made valiant efforts to un-loop it, but a factory reset was necessary. In case you don’t know, a factory reset wipes the phone clean. You can lose EVERYTHING.

Fortunately, I’m synced (or something along those lines), and I lost some stuff, but not EVERYTHING. However, an unexpected side effect of the reset was my phone runs quicker. Apparently, gunk that was slowing it down was wiped away by the reset.

Sometimes adults with divorced parents need seasonal resets too. Frustration, disappointment, triggers from past events, anger, and sadness can gunk up our enjoyment of Christmas and dampen our enthusiasm and hope for the new year.

Getting out the gunk

The best reset is turning our focus to the true meaning of this season. You don’t have to look far to find it. It’s all around us this time of year.

Joy to the world the Lord has come
Let Earth receive her King.

Hark the Harold angels sing
Glory to the newborn King
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled.

God rest ye merry gentlemen
Let nothing you dismay
Remember Christ our Savior
Was born on Christmas Day
To save us all from Satan’s pow’r
When we were gone astray
Oh tidings of comfort and joy
Comfort and joy
Oh tidings of comfort and joy

It’s much easier to sing, Fa la la la la, la la la la with a joy filled heart when we reflect on the greatest gift God has ever given; His son, Jesus Christ.

Jesus is the expert at ridding us of gunk. Our part is to trust Him enough to allow Him to do what it takes. May this new year be a time of ACD gunk-removal and gratitude for a year filled with God’s blessings.

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Gray Divorce and the First Holidays

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There are many firsts in life—some good, some forgettable, some not so good. If parental divorce barges through our door when we’re adults, that first Christmas can be an emotional challenge that is virtually unparalleled. The announcement and subsequent divorce can leave us reeling.

University of Toronto associate professor Michael Saini lists five feelings that can occur when adult children face gray divorce (divorce that occurs when the children are grown):

  1. Feeling that their childhood was fake
  2. Experiencing loyalty challenges as both parents turn to them for comfort and support
  3. Anxiety about their own relationships
  4. Feelings of isolation and lack of adequate supports
  5. Role boundary problems, as they may not be ready to provide the support to their parents1

For most, holidays and families (for better or worse) are synonymous. But with gray divorce, “family” is no longer a homogeneous word. Mom has her life, Dad has his. But now both expect the adult kids (and their children) to join them as they forge new traditions. The problem is, most of us liked the old ones.

No Regrets by dollen [A,=]427345478_4977dc5129_oThat first Christmas is full of emotions compounded by the unknowns. Can we mention that we sang carols at the enemy’s house? Do we tell the children not to tell Grandma what Grandpa gave them? Is it okay to miss the twenty-year-old eggnog tradition because it reminds one parent too much of the other? How do you handle unexpected tears? The list goes on and many answers are elusive due to the personal nature of each divorce.

But, here are a few things to remember:

  1. It’s okay to grieve their divorce and the accompanying losses. Talk to God, your spouse, an empathetic friend, journal, or take a long walk and talk to yourself, but talk or write about what you’ll miss, what makes you mad, confused, lost, sad, or thankful.
  2. It’s okay to set boundaries with your parents. Communicate in advance that there will be no bashing, denigrating, snide comments or barbs about the other, or martyrdom during the family gathering. This is possible for one day!
  3. It’s okay to acknowledge the elephant in the room—if it’s respectful to those in attendance. Author, Stephanie Staal, summed up the experience when she wrote, “Everyone was comfortable with the extremely uncomfortable situation.”2
  4. It’s okay to have sad moments, and if respectful to those in attendance, say so. After the holiday, do step one again.
  5. Most important, remember what the season is about—the birth of the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ. But Jesus was not born into the world to remove pain. Shortly before he was to be crucified, he prayed to God, “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world, but that you protect them from the evil one.”3

Jesus doesn’t remove the pain, he gives us the strength to press through it. For those of you facing your first split Christmas, may the unconditional love Jesus offers be your strength this holiday season.

 

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No Regrets by dollen
Nativity, Pixabay

1Natalia Camarena, “Parents’ Divorce Affects Adult Children Too,” Sheridan
Sun (March 18, 2016), www.thesheridansun.ca/blog/2016/03/18/parents-divorceaffects-adult-children-too/. Used with permission.
2Stephanie Staal, The Love They Lost: Living with the Legacy of Our Parents’ Divorce (New York: Delacorte Press; Random House, 2000), 203.
3John 17:15, NIV.
 

 

Divorce and Abuse

This site was created to offer resources for adults with divorced parents. Two of the many reasons are, (1) too few are working to assist this group that is millions strong,1 and, (2) we want to disrupt the generational divorce cycle that results because ACD are up to 200% more likely to divorce than their peers from non-divorced homes.2

However, a site visitor shared her frustration with people’s negative and judgmental reactions to her divorce, when, in fact, it was necessary for the safety of herself and her children. She also expressed concern that the Considering Divorce tab on this site didn’t address people in similar situations. She was right, and it’s been corrected.

Her concern arrived as the country learned of the man, in Southern California, who killed his ex-wife, four others, and then himself. This was the latest in a series of divorce/custody/separation incidents. And there are more situations that don’t end in death, but are every bit as troubling—as our visitor can attest.

Given adults with divorced parents, particularly females, are more vulnerable to the controlling manipulation of abuse, it is important to address that, although two thirds of divorces are low-conflict and not due to abuse or infidelity3,4, too many women (and some men) are caught in dangerous marriages and shunned when they leave them.

Dealing with Abuse
First, it’s important to recognize abuse. Click here for information that can help.

Second, if you are in an abusive situation, get help. Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline. They can assist you with the necessary steps to deal with the abusive situation.

Third, speak with your pastor or church leader. Their first priority should be your safety and the safety of your children. There is no biblical excuse or rationale for domestic abuse. If they don’t agree with this, find another Christian leader who can help you.

Dealing with the Abused

True Christians are filled with God’s Holy Spirit. This is not a matter of choice. What is a choice is whether we listen to and obey the Holy Spirit and the scriptures the Holy Spirit brings to mind when we need them.

The fruit of being filled with the Holy Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.5 So when we come in contact with people who escape abuse through divorce, this list should describe how we deal with them.
If, instead, we are blaming, demeaning, judging, gossiping about, ignoring, or shunning these individuals, we are unfairly harming them and grieving God’s Holy Spirit at the same time.

Whether on this site or at a workshop or other presentation, I always note that this organization does not seek to dishonor or bash divorced people. Our goal is to bring relational healing to adults with divorced parents through the power of Christ, and help individuals avoid unnecessarily replicating their parents’ divorce. May this goal guide us all.

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alone by beautifulflower

1 Terry Gaspard and Tracy Clifford, Daughters of Divorce, 2016.
2Nicholas H. Wolfinger, Understanding The Divorce Cycle, 2005, 108-109
3 Elizabeth Marquardt, Between Two Worlds, 2005.
4Alan J. Hawkins and Tamara A. Fackrell, Should I Keep Trying to Work it Out, 2009. 44.
5Galatians 5:22-23, ESV

When Mothers Leave – What the Research Shows

What is the impact on the children when the mother is the non-custodial parent after the divorce?
This question was raised at a presentation I gave on Father Hunger. I assured the inquirers I’d get back to them with what I found. However, I learned there was not much to be found. Consequently, this became the topic of my Master’s Thesis.

For those of you with mothers who left after the divorce, not much data addresses your dilemma. The attached thesis gives  some information, but much more research is necessary. Until that happens, I welcome your thoughts, opinions, concerns, and whatever else you feel necessary for us to know about your experience in this area. Also, please remember God wants to heal the hole or wound your mom may have created.

The Bible says, “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!” (Isaiah 49:15) and, “Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me” (Psalm 27:10). The researchers may be way behind on this issue, but God isn’t.

The Impact of Non-Custodial Mothers Thesis – Kent Darcie

 

 

Loving Your “Enemies” A Sunday Snippet

Jesus stunned His audience by saying, “You have heard it said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:43-45).

What if Jesus was speaking to an audience of adults with divorced parents?
Maybe He would have said something like this:
Because of your hurt from your parents’ divorce, you love those who love you and hate those who’ve hurt you. But I say to you,

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 Love your mother who left the family for a coworker,
 Bless the woman that “stole” your father from your family,
 Do good to the stepparent who never treated you as one of the               family,
 Pray for the judge that put you with Dad when you wanted to be           with Mom, 
 Do this that you may be children of your Father in heaven.
 
Love them? You don’t understand!!
I’ve heard of enough stories and talked to enough frustrated, hurt, disillusioned, and apathetic-toward-their-family adult children of divorce to understand this sentiment. Also, as one with divorced parents, I, too, have periodic struggles. But Jesus was speaking to an audience whose “enemy” was the Roman government. One that abused people, killed them at will, and regularly took advantage of them. A few years after Jesus’ crucifixion and raising from the dead, Romans were literally feeding Christ-followers to the lions to be killed. So, Jesus’ audience would also say, “Love them? You don’t understand!!”

Love covers a multitude of sins
We are often unlovable, yet God loves us. God showed his great love for us by sending Jesus to die for us while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8). With so great a love available to you and me, how can we hold back our love from those who wounded us? Here are some beginning steps?

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  1. Accept the love and forgiveness God offers you through the sacrificial death of Jesus for your sins. The Bible says, “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.  For, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’” (Romans 10:9-10,13). Click here for more information on this wonderful gift.
  2. Forgive your ‘enemies’ for their offenses against you. Easier said than done? Listen to a radio program I recorded on forgiveness when dealing with divorced parents by clicking here.
  3. Enjoy the freedom, peace, and joy that comes with obedience to God’s word.

Loving as Jesus commanded may not change your ‘enemy’, but it will certainly change you!

“Getting Over It” vs. Not Letting It Control Us

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While sharing about a parental-divorce-related struggle, my friend said, maybe it’s time to just get over it.  After my initial unspoken, “that’s easy for you to say,” I wondered if people who believe that are wrong, but also right. Ironically, less than a week later, another parental-divorce related incident occurred, and I was quick to point out, “this is why it’s so hard to get over it.”

These thoughts reminded me of a chapter in Leila Miller’s book, Primal Loss: The Now-Adult Children of Divorce Speak. On the title page, “Speak to Your Parents Then and Now” she writes:
For the record, one or more young divorced parents has told me that adult children of divorce only want to speak to me for this book because of ‘unconscious revenge’ against their parents, and that they simply have not ‘forgiven’ their parents, which is the only way to heal.”1

Ain’t that a blip?! …Or are they right?

One of the challenges of getting over it, is “it” keeps rearing its ugly head in different ways which can continue for years. How do you get over the stepparent who broke up your parents’ marriage with the affair? Where does getting over it fit with two parents who still lower the room temperature 40 degrees whenever they are together? At what point does one get over boyfriend after boyfriend or girlfriend after girlfriend—and explaining the parade to the kids?

I’ve come to realize that ACD may not be able to just get over it. There are too many occurrences. But ACD don’t have to be controlled by the fallout from parental divorce. Hurt doesn’t’ automatically call for unforgiveness. Anger need not produce bitterness. Betrayal can bypass hatred. Misunderstanding doesn’t require severing relationships. Reminders can circumvent depression.

Fortunately (sort of), dealing with recurring troubles is not a new problem. Two thousand years ago, the Apostle Peter asked Jesus, “’Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?’ ‘No, not seven times,’ Jesus replied, ‘but seventy times seven!’”2 Apparently there was a recurring problem and Jesus’ answer was (and is) to forgive—repeatedly, if necessary.*

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But how do we forgive the same thing over and over? Or maybe it’s a something different, but produces the same crummy result. We start by realizing how much Jesus forgives our over and overs. The Bible says, “if we confess our sins to him (Jesus), he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.”3 Consequently, if Jesus is willing to forgive all of our sins, how can we withhold forgiveness from others?

Forgiveness is an important piece when dealing with the fallout from parental divorce and not allowing it to control how we think and act. You can learn more about how adult children of divorce can forgive when you click here.

I also encourage you to read through earlier blogs to see other ways ACD can control how they respond in situations where they would like to just get over it.

 

*Biblical forgiveness never includes enduring abuse or putting oneself in harms way.

1Miller L, (2017). Primal Loss: The Now-Adult Children of Divorce Speak. Phoenix, AZ: LCB Publishing, 163.
2Matthew 18:21-22, NLT
31 John 1:9, NLT

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Honestly by Steven

Are Adult Children of Divorce Doomed to Failing Relationships?

No. However, many issues work against our success that need to be addressed if we are to avoid the negative ACD statistics column. But what are the problem areas?  And how do we handle them?

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First, some issues—and from an unusual source.
Australian entertainment writer, Nigel Gladstone, asked a very unpopular question in the midst of the fluff and gush of the royal wedding. What are the odds Harry and Meghan will divorce?He listed the following negative factors:

  • She’s from America –which has high divorce rates
  • Both are celebrities—who, as a group, have notoriously high divorce rates
  • Both have divorced parents—which increases the odds of divorce 200% compared to those from intact families2
  • People who spend more than $20,000 on their wedding triple their chances of divorce—who would have thunk that?1,3 

Factors I’d add:

  • Interracial marriages can add significant social pressure to the marriage relationship
  • They’ve created a step family—due to her two sons—which often adds divisive internal pressure on the marriage relationship for, at least, the first five to seven years.4

Pixaby

Internal and external pressures
All relationships have internal and external pressures that work against them. Internal pressures include differences of opinion, family or origin differences, emotional baggage, different life goals, spiritual differences, and other things that can create sparks and hurt feelings. ACD add a of lack of trust, anger, the fear of doom, father hunger, and other flawed paradigms to the mix.

External pressures include extended family, children, in-laws, ex’s, social mores, cultural challenges for missionaries, and privacy challenges for celebrities. Unfortunately, few are trained to deal with external and internal pressures on relationships effectively. Consequently, the relationship of the two individuals—the Bible says two sinful individuals—can break under the pressure.

Lowering the odds of divorce
The new royal couple, and every couple around the world that include an adult child of divorce, need to:

  1. Learn about and identify external and internal pressures (particularly ACD related issues) that can negatively affect their relationship. Gary Neuman’s book, The Long Way Home: The Powerful 4-Step Plan for Adult Children of Divorce is an excellent start.
  2. Stepfamilies (or stepfamilies-to-be) should read The Smart StepfaFamilyLife Blended logo (Smart Stepfamily)mily by Ron Deal and review the materials online at Family Life  blended.
  3. Couples considering marriage should pursue premarital counseling, but ACD and blended families especially need premarital counseling that includes marriage and parenting skills, blended marriage issues, and ACD issues.
  4. People who attend church regularly divorce less.3,5 One reason is God is the biggest champion for marriage and provided a textbook for a successful marriage. The Bible includes many guidelines for healthy marriages like, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her(Ephesians 5:25) and “Let the wife see that she respects her husband” (Ephesians 5:33). Followed in a humble and loving way, marriage can be the safe, nurturing, and loving bond ACD crave.

So “No” our relationships aren’t doomed. Because with God’s help, and our humble submission to His will for our lives, every obstacle can be managed, minimized, or overcome and the cycle of divorce can be broken—even for royalty.

 

1https://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/celebrity/what-are-the-odds-harry-and-meghan-will-divorce-20180519-p4zg94.html
2Wolfinger, N. H. (2005). Understanding the divorce cycle: The children of divorce in their own marriages. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.
3 Francis‐Tan, A., & Mialon, H. M. (2015). “A Diamond Is Forever” And Other Fairy Tales: The Relationship Between Wedding Expenses and Marriage Duration. Economic Inquiry, 53(4), 1919-1930.
4 Deal, R. L. (2014). The smart stepfamily: Seven steps to a healthy family. Baker Books.
5 Feldhahn, S. (2014). The Good News about Marriage: Debunking Discouraging Myths about Marriage and Divorce. Multnomah.

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Woman and Bible – Prayer a Powerful Weapon by abcdz2000