This ACD Ministries article was recently published in the Reconciliation Ministries November/December 2013 Newsletter. Reconciliation Ministries offers a Biblically based licensed professional counseling and prayer ministry. They specialize in men’s sexual issues, relationship difficulties, and childhood sexual abuse recovery. For more information go to www.recmin.org.
A Gift for Yourself this Christmas – Kent Darcie
An estimated 50% of US adults who will celebrate Christmas this year have divorced parents. For them this season can be particularly tough. Even those who manage to create the “Hallmark” holiday for their own family must often contend with gatherings which include a hodgepodge of parents, ex-parents, steps, step-siblings, grand-steps, and other combinations too numerous to list here.
While few adults with divorced parents would deny hassles are standard equipment with divorce, fewer still understand just how much their parent’s divorce affects them the other 11½ months. My case was no exception.
I was 13 when the divorce occurred. Until then my father, mother, two younger sisters and I lived a comfortable middle class life. Dad worked. Mom stayed home with us. Though I loved them both, my relationship with my dad felt like joy on steroids. Where he was, I wanted to be; whether under a car as he changed the oil, or exploring on a long bike ride. The occasional punishment or spanking did come, but my glasses couldn’t be any rosier thinking about those early years.
After the divorce, I stayed with my mom and sisters. Visits with my dad were painfully infrequent. Sporadic happiness replaced the joy as life wandered on. Junior and senior high school, college, marriage, and kids rounded out the next 30 years. So did anger, anxiety, feeling unworthy, struggling with inadequacy, fears, and bouts with mild depression every Christmas season. It’s almost sinister how abnormal can seem normal when you live it long enough.
But at a marriage retreat God shined blinding light into my eyes with this truth: even though I was on my first marriage, I was traveling down the same emotional path as my dad who was approaching his third marriage. I swore never to put my kids through a divorce, but it didn’t matter. Apparently that was the path I was on.
The Problem Few Know About
We hear how marriages are failing at a 50% rate. What’s not communicated is the disproportionate impact adult children with divorced parents have on the percentage. Simply put, if a person from an intact family marries someone from a broken home, the odds the marriage will fail increase 50%. If both are from broken homes, the chance of the marriage ending in divorce increase 200% (as compared with two people from intact homes.)1 Divorce produces divorce! More frightening is the root causes for these marital collapses are mostly unknown by millions of adults with divorced parents.
Research indicates adult children of divorce (ACD) have issues with anger and trusting people directly due their parent’s divorce. They also suffer from a list of fears including the fear of inadequacy, of inferiority, of conflict, and the fear of doom—which lives life always waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Additionally, children from broken homes have far higher addiction rates including drugs, alcohol, and sex. Depression, attempts at suicide, teen pregnancy, and brushes with the law are also side effects from a parent’s divorce. These can create deep cracks in the foundation an adult life is built upon.
Combined or in part, these issues form a concoction proven as toxic to relationships and marriages. But, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.2
I’ve received great comfort from God. Shortly after the marriage retreat, God uncovered resources which helped explain the impact my parent’s divorce had. With these issues exposed, my prayers, research, and actions were more focused on the goal of overcoming the issues. God’s gifts of love, peace, and joy slowly washed away the fears, anger, and other issues that grew like poison mushrooms in a beautiful garden.
A Christmas Gift for Yourself
This Christmas why not accept this wonderful gift too? You are reading this at God’s leading, but as an ACD you have a choice. Wait 30 years before admitting your parent’s divorce still negatively affects you. Continue limiting yourself and hurting your loved ones. Or bring yourself healing and renewed relationships by applying this new information.
Adult Children of Divorce Ministries provides resources so adults with divorced parents can overcome the unseen tentacles that trip up their relationships with others and God as well. Books, articles, videos, and more are accessible on the website. Seminars, workshops, teachings, and other presentations are available for groups—both small and large. Get information today and jump-start your healing journey.
More important, seek a deeper comprehension of God’s love for you. The holiday season makes revisiting or learning about Christmas’ true meaning easy. Read Luke Chapters 1 and 2. For a more basic approach you can watch A Charlie Brown Christmas 3. For nearly 50 years Linus has been telling Charlie Brown and the world what Christmas is really all about. Afterward, contact Dan Hitz [founder and head of Reconciliation Ministries] or myself and learn more about how wide, how long, how high, and how deep Christ’s love is for you.4 Healing begins with God. Accept His wonderful gift and make this a very Merry Christmas.
1~Paul Amato. http://www.smartmarriages.com/before.breakup.html accessed 11/6/12
2~2 Corinthians 1:3-4. [ESV]
3~A Charlie Brown Christmas. http://newsbusters.org/blogs/noel-sheppard/2011/12/25/linus-tells-charlie-brown-true-meaning-christmas Accessed 12/5/2013
4~Ephesians 3:18b [NLT]