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

Advertisements

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

Four Types of Adult Children of Divorce

When people ask me what I do it goes like this: “I help adults with divorced parents overcome some of the lingering issues from the divorce, like anger and unforgiveness, so they can have healthy relationships and avoid divorce themselves.” After a polite “That sounds interesting” the conversation comes to a fork in the road.

Step out of yourself by Victoria Nevland croppedPeople from intact-families say the ministry is important and desperately needed. Many share stories of disastrous divorce situations they’ve seen. (It’s amazing how many people have these stories.)

However, individuals from broken homes often raise their defense shields and say very little. Or they’ll comment about how things are going well. Only a small percentage ask questions or touch on their struggles. I think this is due in large part to adults with divorced parents falling into four groups:

  • Delivered – those who really are doing well. Their parents’ break-up has been dealt with in a real, healthy, and ongoing way. They are standing on biblical truth and treating the lies they used to believe as pesky gnats rather than stumbling blocks.  This seems to be the smallest group of the four.
  • Deluded – those who believe they are doing well. A common expression from these folks is, “It was a long time ago and I’m over it.” This belief is fed by TV, movies, and popular internet sites. Unfortunately, they are blind (like I was) Talk to the hand by Matt Foster croppedto the various ways parental divorce can impact our thinking and negatively affect our relationships and marriages. I believe this is the largest group because, if most adult children of divorce really were ok, the divorce rate of those with divorced parents wouldn’t be as high. Also the fear of marriage wouldn’t drive so many to live together.
  • Denied – these know they’re not doing well. They have even connected their troubles to Mom and Dad’s split. But they lack information to overcome (for example) the trust and anger issues they struggle with.
  • Determined – these adult children of divorce are aware of their issues and are actively working to overcome them.

CCK - 'Gunks by G BNow take a moment and honestly assess which group you are in. Would your spouse, friends, or family agree with your answer? I pray you are moving toward the Determined or Delivered group. If the cycle of divorce is to be broken these two groups must grow. The good news is God seeks to help people who want to be delivered.

The Apostle Paul wrote, “I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”1 I’m thankful God continues to work on me. (My wife is too!) However, God wants to work with you too. Will you let Him?

 

1Philippians 1:6, NLT

Photos:
Step out of yourself by Victoria Nevland
Talk to the hand by Matt Foster
CCK – ‘Gunks by G B

Easter, Anger, and Adult Children of Divorce

Though the peeps and bunnies are gone, I keep thinking about a movie I saw Easter Sunday. Normally Charlton Heston in the Charlton Heston as MosesTen Commandments is tradition, but this year I watched “The Gospel of John.” This movie retells the Gospel of John and when Jesus’ trail was portrayed I noticed two things:

First, with the taunts, jeers, cheap shots, and cheap hits they took at Jesus, he must have been tempted to wipe them off the earth. He easily could have saying, Who do you twerps think you are? Don’t you realize I’m the true Son of God!? Then ‘ZAP!’  and suddenly, Jesus is there alone.Angry by Dee Teal

Second, it’s amazing to me that Jesus didn’t get angry at his mistreatment. We live in angry times. Republicans are angry. Democrats are angry. Sports radio people are angry. Rights Activists are angry. Even those who think the Bachelor chose the wrong girl are angry. But Jesus, who had every right to be angry, wasn’t. “Father forgive them1 he said, just before they crucified him.

So as an adult child of divorce whose dealt with my share of anger issues, it would behoove me to view the actions of my Savior more closely. Case and point:

Jesus before accusers cropped“Now the chief priests and the whole council were seeking false testimony against Jesus that they might put him to death, but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. At last two came forward and said, “This man said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to rebuild it in three days.’” And the high priest stood up and said, “Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?” But Jesus remained silent.”2

I wonder how different things would be if I’d remained silent instead of spouting off in anger. What about any of us? Would our past relationships lasted? Would our spouses be more open and loving toward us instead of guarded in fear? Would we have learned to let God’s peace direct our hearts instead of prideful words like “I deserve”?

To conquer anger we need to revisit Easter. Christ rose from the grave and anyone who confesses Him as Lord and Savior receives God’s Holy Spirit. It is the power of the Holy Spirit who enables us to remain silent when we want to lash out. And it is the Holy Spirit who guides us to scriptures that can help us with our anger.Anger, Handling A Powerful Emotion in a Healthy Way

If you are struggling with anger (or your loved ones or friends say you are), don’t not to try to overcome it yourself. Your efforts haven’t worked so far and probably won’t. Instead, invite Jesus Christ into your life and receive true power to overcome your anger.

Still not convinced you’re angry? Take this Anger Assessment from Gary Chapman.

1Luke 23:34
2Matthew 26:57-63

Photo
Keyboard – “Angry” by Dee Teal

Gifts of Hope this Christmas – War Room

At this “moooost wonderful tiiiiime of the yeeeeear” that can be so stressful on relationships, here is another gift of encouragement for you.War-Room2

The movie “War Room” is now available on DVD. The power of prayer is the theme. You will laugh, cry, and most important, you will have renewed hope in the power of God to heal and restore relationships. Definitely a movie men and women will enjoy, and a fantastic way to start the New Year!

New Help for Remarried Spouses in Stepfamilies


The Smart Stepfamily Marriage bk
Millions of children were raised in stepfamilies. Today many of these kids have grown up and become parents or stepparents in their own stepfamilies. Remarriages can be very challenging, but help is available.

I rarely recommend books unless I’ve at least scanned it, but a recent entry warrants this exception. Ron Deal, author of The Smart Stepfamily, has released a new book titled, “The Smart Stepfamily Marriage.”This work, co-written by family therapist Dave Olsen, starts by calibrating the “CPS” or Couple Positioning System. “It provides a map for couples on the unique journey of remarriage.1 This is a critical first step because remarried couples bring so much past into the new union.

The Smart Stepfamily bkRon deal has a decades-long ministry focused on helping stepfamilies cope with the endless challenges that are unique to stepfamilies. His material is real, biblical, and each page has helpful nuggets; some of which may be hard to accept because of their where-we-live truthfulness. However it is this where-we-live truthfulness that is the strength of Deal’s books and his ministry. Smart stepfamilies can be found at www.smartstepfamilies.com

The Smart Stepfamily Marriage” and “The Smart Stepfamily” are invaluable tools for spouses and parents in stepfamilies or those planning to create one.

 

1The Smart Stepfamily Marriage, Bethany House Publishers, p. 17.