Thanks-giving to Parents Who Really Try

Divorce isn’t easy for anyone. Furthermore, on this site I tend to focus on the fallout parental divorce produces—and rightfully so. If adults with divorced parents hope to break the divorce cycle, we need to identify some of the contributing factors.

However, there are countless divorced mothers and fathers and stepmothers and stepfathers who honestly try to minimize the ongoing impact. They accept that hybrid relationships can be difficult, awkward, or confusing for us, even as adults.

Some travel distances to stay involved with us.
Some sacrifice their own happiness because they believe it will help us.
Some refuse to badmouth their ex because that ex is our mother or father.
Some go above and beyond financially to help.
Many display grace when facing new husbands and wives.
Some pursue us even when we push them away.
Many lovingly do the stepparenthood dance of being a parent, yet not being the parent.
Some avoid family functions to decrease our discomfort.
And the list goes on..

If you’re blessed with a parent or stepparent who is described by the list above, first give thanks to God. Unfortunately, these wonderful individuals are not as common as we might hope. Second, give them a call, or a special hug to thank them. Tell them what you are thankful for. You may just give them the best gift they receive this entire holiday season!

Images
Father and daughter by Chany Crystal

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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

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

Overcoming Regret

Swallowed In The Sea by Kelly B croppedMy mother would say, “Idle time is the Devil’s workshop.” This basically means bored (and unsupervised) people do bad things. While this principle applies to many kids, children with divorced parents are particularly vulnerable because their anger with the divorce can fuel rebellious actions. As a result, many of us have decisions in our past that sting our memories years later:
     sex at a young age 
          drinking with embarrassing or tragic consequences
               lying
                   stealing
                       numbing our pain with drugs or cutting
                           an abortion…or two
                                or starting our pornography addiction.
 But what can we do when regrets race to the surface?

A man who knows regret
Peter the apostle had a major regret—he denied Jesus Christ. Worse, Peter denied he knew Jesus three times in quick succession. Worse yet, he denied Jesus after telling him “Even if everyone else deserts you, I will never desert you.1 Still worse, after Peter denied him, Jesus turned and looked over at him (Luke 22:61). So after three quick decisions Peter was a broken man and wept bitterly.
 Can you imagine the shame, hurt, and despair from denying his close friend (and the Savior of the world)—after he’d seen countless miracles and walked on the water with him? In some ways, many of us can. Not the denying Jesus part, but doing something (or things) that cause us to wince in shame, hurt, and despair—even years later.

How do we overcome regrets?
Woman and Bible - Prayer a Powerful Weapon by abcdz2000After Peter’s dark hour, he does something Judas didn’t—let Jesus take away the pain of the regret. When Jesus rose from the grave, he told Mary Magdalene (the first witness of his resurrection) “go tell the disciples, and Peter” to meet the resurrected Jesus in Galilee (Mark 16:7). Later Jesus had a heart-to-heart restorative chat with Peter (John 21:15-19).

Jesus wants to have a heart-to-heart with you, too. He doesn’t want you weighed down by past regrets. Start your conversation with Jesus by confessing you messed up and you’re sorry. If an ongoing sin or addiction is involved, repent and earnestly seek God’s healing—pursuing whatever help is necessary. However, confession is key. “If we freely admit that we have sinned, Forgiveness by Tiffany Scantleburywe find God utterly reliable and straightforward—he forgives our sins and makes us thoroughly clean from all that is evil.2    Once confessed to God, it’s done in his eyes. “As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.”3

Moving Forward
Peter was able to overcome his regrets by proclaiming the forgiveness and grace God offers to the world—forgiveness and grace he knew from personal experience. Sharing about God’s forgiveness and grace in our lives draws others to the Source of true healing and reinforces God’s goodness in our hearts and minds. This is a powerful and proven way to overcome regrets.

1Matthew 26:33, NLT
21 John 1:9, Phillips NT
3Psalm 103:12, ESV

Photos
Swallowed In The Sea by Kelly B
Peter’s Denial by Robert Leinweber
Woman and Bible – Prayer a Powerful Weapon by abcdz2000
Forgiveness by Tiffany Scantlebury
freedom…! by Kaylan Chakravarthy  50

Would “Bird’s Nest” Parenting Have Helped you Better Cope With Your Parents’ Divorce?

With “Bird’s Nest”1 parenting, during visitation, instead of the kids bouncing from one parent’s house to the other, the grownups take turns living in the children’s home. This novel concept has been an option for shared custody in areas of the U.S. for some time. It’s promoted as much better for the kids.
man leaving house - imgarcade.com
Bird’s Nest parenting is supposed to look  like this:
Ray and Kara’s parents divorced and their dad moved out. Rather than Ray and Kara going to his place on the weekends, he would stay at their home starting Friday night and leave Sunday evening. Mom would be elsewhere while Dad was in the house. According to the experts, this arrangement gives Ray and Kara “stability” by living in one place, while the parents incur the burden of moving back and forth between different homes.

In my parents’ situation we stayed with my mother. My father lived hours away so weekend visitation wasn’t an issue. Man on the Moon by NASA 40However upon reflection, it seems like it would have been easier to put a man on the moon than overcome the obstacles to pulling off a Bird Nesting arrangement with my folks. But I’m curious about others.

So, while admitting I haven’t touched on the bazillion possible complications that come with this,  do you think ‘Bird’s Nest’ parenting would have lessened the impact of your parents’ divorce on you? Why or why not?

Please leave your comments below.

1Radhika Sanghani‘Bird’s nest custody’: The smart new way to divorce Feb 7, 2016, The Telegraph
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/family/birds-nest-custody-the-smart-new-way-to-divorce/
Photos:
man leaving woman, imgarcade.com
“Man on the Moon” by NASA

 

Filling the Hole in Your Heart

A hole is created in our hearts when our parents divorce. Each hole is unique. Mine was losing the specialness I felt in my relationship with my dad.  Though after theirabandoned boy split I lived in a loving home with my mom and sisters, and my dad never lost contact with us, his physical departure (and other things life threw at me) reinforced my subconscious belief that my specialness was gone.

Years later I learned that, starting with the divorce announcement, I began a lifelong quest to regain that feeling of specialness.  I used constructive ways like doing  well at work and being respected in church and the community. But the craving to feel special often has a flip side of destructive attempts to get that specialness back.  Doing things for the affirmation they brought, or trying to fill the void with “pleasure” only leaves the hole deeper.  But the dual tragedy was spending so much energy on a futile cause, and not even knowing I was doing it.

What hole are you trying to fill?
A constant with parental divorce seems to be the creation of holes of all shapes and sizes.

  • Is your hole fear? You felt abandoned and everything you do revolves around trying to feel secure again?
  • Are feelings dirt pile and man 75of inadequacy your hole? You tried to please both warring parents, but it never worked. Now you attempt to fill your hole of “failure” by proving you’re adequate with overachievement.
  • Perhaps pain/trauma has dug your hole. Yours is extra deep because abuse caused you to see things children should never see or experience things kids should never experience. Consequently, an addiction to drugs, shopping, sex, people-pleasing, alcohol, workaholism, or hobbies is your method of trying to fill it.

How do we fill the hole in a healthy way?
There are a variety of holes, but one common truth about them. Without God, the hole never gets filled. You can’t do enough, experience enough, or medicate enough to fill your hole. Only God can produce joy from despair, replace pain with peace, and saturate unforgiveness with grace.

But we must take our hole to God. Imagine shoveling dirt into a hole day after day, but the hole never fills. That is what many man praying adultchildrenofdivorce.netadult children of divorce are doing emotionally. We try and try, but exhaustion wins out and we succumb to various temptations, addictions, crankiness, or desperate acts.

The great news is Jesus says, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”1 Basically Jesus is saying, “Let me fill that life-draining hole for you.” The question is, will you give Jesus the shovel?

Additionally, talking with a trained church leader, Christian counselor, or psychologist can help. They offer an objective view and skills that can help you fill your hole and open the door to the abundant life Jesus offers.
1Matthew 11:28  [NLT]

Upcoming ACD Interview with Kent Darcie on Internet Radio

Kent Darcie from Adult Children of Divorce Ministries on WEXL 1340AMOn Wednesday, October 28th at 1:30pm I will be interviewed on the ways parental divorce still impacts the kids after they grow up. You can hear this interview at live365.com/stations/madonnauniversity2. The host of the program is Dani Nunley.

The New Audio Series on Adult Children of Divorce Issues is Up

Earlier this year I recorded ten radio programs for the Champions Arise ministry of Trans World Radio (TWR). In this series, Foster Braun interviewed me on how parental divorce affects the children and the adults they become.Kent Darcie with Foster Braun 25% These fifteen-minute programs include an overview of the issues adults with divorced parents face and detailed discussions on anger, father hunger, forgiveness, and other topics.

This is a great introduction to why adults with divorced parents struggle with relationships and divorce at significantly higher rates. Click here to connect to the program list and audio links.