Support Group for Adults with Divorced Parents in Southeast Michigan

I am excited to announce that I will be co-leading a support group for adults with divorced parents starting in May.  Please contact Sycamore Counseling Services for more information.

Here is a video with a brief description of who this group is for.

“Divorce is Not All That Devastating”

divorce-by-marc-hatot-croppedThese words appear in a Washington Post story by Crystal Ponti. The article was mostly tongue-in-cheek about how divorce might make parenting easier, but one quote caught my eye:
“Research also shows that divorce is not all that devastating for most children. Sure, it comes with some consequences and a huge adjustment period, but overall, kids bounce back.”1divorce-sucks-by-addie-williams
Because this mindset is so prevalent today, let’s take a closer look at what comes before the “kids bounce back.” 

Not all that devastating
The definition of devastating (and its root devastate) includes, to render desolate, overwhelm, to lay waste, and destruction.” 2 So, if totally devastating (on a 1 – 10 scale) is a ten, is a devastation level of six okay? of four? And would any level of devastating behavior be acceptable in an intact home?

For most children
More than 51% are not totally devastated.  This is good news?

Some consequences
For those with tears in your eyes from laughter, pull yourself together. For those with tears from painful unbelief, please know that even though this is the dominant view—including the belief of many parents, it’s normally not due to ill-will. Non children of divorce simply don’t get it.

Elizabeth Marquardt illustrates this well in her book, Between Two Worlds. There she reveals the double standard children of divorce face with a series of questions.

  • “How often do married [intact] parents send their child away from home for days, weeks, months, or years at time?
  • How often do married parents put their children on airplanes by themselves?
  • How often do married parents divide their financial responsibilities for their children down to the penny?
  • How often do married parents sleep with someone besides the child’s parent in the home when the child is present?”3

ACOD’s know this is the tip of the iceberg, but Marquardt goes on to say, “the needs of children of married parents and children of divorced parents are the same. So why are children of divorce considered so resilient? Because the adults need them to be that way.”3

Huge adjustment period
Truest statement in the quote, but most parents and experts doubt its validity. Divorce is a bump in the road and kids are resilient is their mantra.

But overall
This is the crux of the “good divorce” argument. Overall, since most children of divorce don’t become ax-murders or burdens on society, divorce is not bad for them.

The devastating truth
I had no idea that fears of inferiority, fears of inadequacy, a fear of doom, fear of marriage, unforgiveness, and a host of other issues clung to me like leeches well into my adulthood. ACOD are usually unaware of these repercussions. But though we may look normal on the outside, these issues act like termites in our relationships.its-all-about-love-by-candida-performa-cropped

A hopeful future
Parental divorce doesn’t have to be devastating. However, healing doesn’t come with denial, but working through the issues. Fortunately, there are resources here that can break your divorce-related chains. Review these and pray for God to heal your heart and your relationships.

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1 https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/parenting/wp/2017/03/02/parenting-would-be-so-much-easier-if-my-husband-and-i-got-divorced/?utm_term=.d5b4ce5e5708.
2Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary, 1994, dilithium Press, Ltd.
3 Elizabeth Marquardt, Between Two Worlds, (NY,NY: Crown Publishers, 2005), 181.

Images
Couple- Photo by Scott Stewart for splitsville.com
Divorce Sucks! by Addie Williams
It’s all about love by Candida.Performa

Father Hunger, Premarital Sex, and Divorce Pt. 2 – Fathers Turning the Tide

i-love-my-daddy-because-by-matt-phillips

In part one, we looked at the impact of Father Hunger. But what can be done to keep it from starting? What can a father do if the divorce has occurred and father hunger has already taken root in your daughter?

A father’s love is the most potent antidote for Father Hunger. Popular speaker, Tom Harmon, compiled a list from 72 high school girls that details how a father can better show his daughter that he loves her.

  1. Spend quality time with me one on one.
  2. Take me on “dates” … out to eat, to walk, or just be together.
  3. Give me love and affection.
  4. Make me feel cherished and that I am precious to you.
  5. Really try to understand; and listen well before answering.
  6. Give me your undivided attention when I am sharing my heart.
  7. Give me clear goals and direction.thanks-daddy-by-thomas-leuthard-cropped
  8. Be a man of strong convictions.
  9. Be a spiritual leader to the family.
  10. Give me your undivided attention when I’m sharing my heart.
  11. Give me praise and encourage.
  12. Hold me accountable to my standards and commitments.
  13. Teach me how to do household maintenance.
  14. Visibly show your love for Mom.
  15. Spend special times with Mom.
  16. Find time to spend with the family.
  17. Set a good example for my brother(s) by helping around the house.
  18. Share your thoughts and feelings with the family.
  19. Humble yourself by admitting your failures and mistakes.

Whether divorced or not (with the possible exception of (14 &15) these can all be done. Harmon concludes his list with a statement from every daughter’s heart:
YOU AND OUR RELATIONSHIP ARE VERY IMPORTANT TO ME!

Forgiveness by Tiffany ScantleburyFathers (and all men), it’s time to stand against the tsunami of father hunger. Here are three steps that can help:

  1. Print this list and let your wife and/or ex-wife know that you’re committed to strengthening your daughter(s) by doing the things on it.
  2. Listen to my podcast on Father Hunger  from the Champions Arise radio series.
  3. Pray for God to protect your daughter’s heart and mind, and use you to repair any damage.

Regardless of how you’ve done in the past,  begin assuring her of your love in word and deed. Though your daughter may give you some resistance at first, persevere. She’ll thank you someday.

 

1 http://tdharmon.com/

Images:
I love my daddy because… by Matt Phillips
Thanks Daddy… by Thomas Leuthard
Forgiveness by Tiffany Scantlebury

Father Hunger, Premarital Sex, and Divorce Pt. 1

To set the stage for this important topic please answer the following questions:

Question #1: Based on the number of sexual partners before marriage, which woman is least likely to divorce.

  • 0 sex partners before marriageselena-places-rhte-ring-on-gregs-finger-by-greg-robleto
  • 1 sex partner
  • 2 sex partners
  • 3-8 sex partners
  • 9+ sex partners

If you picked zero, you’re correct.1 The divorce rate for female virgins is about 6%1 Having one partner was close because the woman tends to marry him—even though premarital sex with even one partner significantly increases the odds of divorce.1 Also a female virgin or one who marries her one partner is likely to attend church regularly—which greatly reduces her chance of divorce.

Question #2: Based on the number of sexual partners before marriage, which woman is most likely to experience divorce.*

  • 0 sex partners before marriagedivorce-by-gerard-van-der-leun
  • 1 sex partner
  • 2 sex partners
  • 3-8 sex partners
  • 9+ sex partners

9+ is incorrect. 3-8 is wrong too. The answer is two. Why?

Nicholas Wolfinger, author of Understanding the Divorce Cycle, and coauthor of Soul Mates: Religion, Sex, Love, and Marriage Among African Americans and Latinos, writes, “my best guess rests on the notion of over-emphasized comparisons.1 Basically the woman mentally compares her current husband to her previous lover which opens the door to doubts and temptations.

So where does Father Hunger fit in?

Parental divorce, Father Hunger behaviors which often include multiple sexual partners are commonly linked in research. Writing about the loss of fathers, Dr. Edward Kruk states, “girls manifest an object hunger for males, and in experiencing the emotional loss of their fathers egocentrically as a rejection of them, become susceptible to exploitation by adult men.2 Dr. Beverly Rodgers writes, “Many of these girls lose their virginity at a younger age and have higher rates of promiscuity.”3

What can I do  about father hunger?

If your parents are divorced,

  1. Learn about Father Hunger. Adult Children of Divorced Parents by Beverly and Tom Rodgers, Daughters of Divorce by Terry Gaspard, and Longing for Daddy by Monique Robinson are strong books on this topic.Woman and Bible - Prayer a Powerful Weapon abcdz2000 FCC [A, $, @]
  2. Learn what the Bible says about God as our father. For example:
  • Even if my father and mother abandon me, the Lord will hold me close.4
  • A father to the fatherless,a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.5
  • How precious are Your thoughts about me, O God! They are innumerable! I can’t even count them.6
  1. Regardless of what your past may look like, commit to honoring God with your life today.

 
What can proactively help to head off father hunger?

We’ll look at 19 things that can be done next time.

 

*figures are for divorces prior to the year 2000. After the year 2000 2 partners ranked slightly below 9+.
1 http://family-studies.org/counterintuitive-trends-in-the-link-between-premarital-sex-and-marital-stability/
2 https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/co-parenting-after-divorce/201205/father-absence-father-deficit-father-hunger
3 Beverly and Tom Rodgers, Adult Children of Divorced Parents; Making Your Marriage Work.(San Jose, CA: Resource Publications, Inc, 2002) 11.
4Psalm 27:10, NLT
5Psalm 68:5, NIV
6Psalm 139:17, NLT, 1996

Images
Selena places the ring on Greg’s finger by Greg Robleto
Divorce by Gerard Van der Leun
Woman and Bible – Prayer a Powerful Weapon by abcdz2000

Nuzzling in God’s Neck – A Sunday Snippet

Maybe you had onjoanna-sweenye of those conversations with your mom, dad, or stepparent.
Maybe your brother or sister is furious that you like your stepmother.
Maybe, even though everything went well, you’re exhausted from keeping parents and steps and assorted others happy at a family event.
Maybe you’re scared because arguments at home sound so similar to the pre-divorce skirmishes you heard as a child.
Maybe life is just hard.

During these times wouldn’t it be great if you could crawl onto God’s lap, let Him wrap His arms around you, and tuck your head into his neck like a little child? But can we do that? Should we do that?

First, can we do that?
Many people see God as ominous, fearful, and untouchable, but as Christians the Bible says, “You received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.1 Abba Father can be translated “Daddy.” This is God’s perspective of our relationship with Him, but perhaps a picture can help.

One of my favorites is this picture of President Kennedy with his son, John, playing under the presidential desk.

John Jr. isn’t thinking about being with the leader of the free world. He is with his dad. Likewise, God wants us to curl up with Him, Abba Father, in spite of the fact he is the ruler of all creation.

Second, should we do that?
Countless scriptures declare, “Yes!!!

Let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.2

Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.3

My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber.4Time for reflection by Hans G Backman

The Lord is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him.  For he knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust.5

Third, how do we do that?
Preferences vary. Some literally crawl onto the couch or recliner and pretend they’re in God’s arms. Others pray. For some people, walking with God helps bring God’s reality in troubling situations.

How we embrace our Abba Father relationship doesn’t’ matter. God isn’t picky. He’s just waiting with open arms for us to come to him.

 

1Romans 8:15, NLT
2Hebrews 4:16, NLT
31 Peter 5:7, NLT
4Psalms 121: 2-3, NIV
5Psalms 103-13-14, NLT

Images
Joanna Sweeny
Time for reflection by Hans G Backman

 

 

 

There are No Gray Shades Here: Sexual Wounds and the ACOD

unworthy woman 1Where can you go if you struggle with sexual guilt, addiction, confusion, hurt, or shame? Research shows that adult children of divorce (ACOD) begin sexual activity at a younger age than those from intact families1 and have more sexual partners2 which can create sexual unfulfillment in relationships. Father hunger is also a significant source of love-seeking sexuality which often creates sexual brokenness. These problems combined with the “sexual freedom” of today’s society, can lead to substantially less sexual satisfaction and sexual wounds that continue into adulthood.

Unfortunately, finding helpful, current, scientific, and biblical information on issues of sexuality, without judgement or instilling shame, has been difficult. Fortunately, Dr. Julie Slattery’s ministry, Authentic Intimacy, fills this void.

Slattery states,authentic-intimacy-logo
Practically every woman, young and old, single and married, carries pain, shame, and confusion related to sexuality. 
Authentic Intimacy believes that God intentionally created us as sexual beings, that every sexual choice is a spiritual choice, that sexuality as a powerful metaphor, and that Satan intentionally works to destroy the holy expression of sexuality.” 3

While sexual brokeday-20-imperfect-praise-9-25-10-by-jessica-wimernness affects men and women, Authentic Intimacy predominantly helps women by answering the unspoken and often tough questions related to sexuality and sexual brokenness.

We want women to understand and love their sexual identity in Christ. As a ministry, we disciple women by helping them understand and apply God’s Truth to all questions, pain, and joys of sexuality.”3

If you or someone you know feel guilt, shame, or struggle with obtaining the sexual freedom God offers, click here to connect to Authentic Intimacy and a wealth of loving, truthful, and helpful information.

 

1Ottaway, A. (2010). The impact of parental divorce on the intimate relationships of adult offspring: a review of the literature. Graduate Journal of Counseling Psychology2(1), 5
2Wallerstein, J. The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce, (NY, NY: Hyperion, 2000), 188
3http://www.authenticintimacy.com

Images
alone by beautifulflower
Day 20 – Imperfect Praise (9.25.10) by Jessica Wimer

Sweeping Divorce Debris Under the Rug (The New Divorce Party)

obsolete-roadmap-by-xavier-vergesBecause of our ever creative ways of downplaying the negative side of divorce you may start hearing about the “new divorce party.” Granted, “divorce” and “party” are not words most adult children of divorce put in the same sentence, but divorce parties are not uncommon. The difference, is now some moms and dads are celebrating the divorce together.

Jennifer Brant writes having this type of divorce party demonstrates the parents are, “showing enough maturity to put your children first and showing friends that relationships can still be maintained.”1 However, Brant, a lawyer, admits that high levels of animosity in most divorces will limit this type of celebration. Praise God! No…wait a minute…lost-in-thought-by-matthew-musgrove

But while trying to comprehend this, I was reminded of adult children of divorce who’ve asked me how parents can be so clueless to the debris behind their divorce(s)? Ever wonder that? Do you get sad or angry sometimes at their apparent naivety or denial? These steps may help:

    1. Watch Brant’s interview.  Observe how the divorce topic is handled. Picture this at 8:15AM on your local morning show just days before Christmas (which is when it aired).
    2. Write down or verbalize your thoughts after the video. Agreement? Disbelief? Sadness? Anger? Pain? Numbness?
    3. Pray to God. “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.”2 God wants to heal your heart. If this video evokes some emotion because it triggers memories of your parents, spell it out to God in detail. Psalm 142:1-2 says, “I cry out loudly to God, loudly I plead with God for mercy. I spill out all my complaints before him, and spell out my troubles in detail.3 Giving our hurts to God helps prevent those hurts from coming Christian Cross 11 by Waiting For The Word croppedout in destructive ways which often hurt our loved ones.
    4. Commit this year to learning how your parents’ divorce impacts you, and how to navigate through the debris field successfully.

We can’t change our parents’ behavior, but each day we can take steps toward our healing. May God bless you with His unfailing love, ultimate trustworthiness, and His joy in the midst of your divorce-related craziness. And may you never want a divorce party.

 

1 http://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/a-new-type-of-divorce-party-35331/
21 Peter 5:7, NLT
3Psalm 142:1-2, Message.

Images
Obsolete roadmap by Xavier Verges
Lost in Thought by Matthew Musgrove
Christian Cross 11 by Waiting For The Word cropped