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

 

 

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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,

girl releasing balloon mural-1347673_1920 pixabay

Pixabay

 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?

christ statue in Rio-pixabay cropped817998_1920

Pixabay

  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!

A Gift to Help Marital Love Last

Adults with divorced parents often lack the template for what a healthy marriage looks like. During this season of love, why not give a gift that will help you and your spouse strengthen your relationship by learning what makes each other tick?

I encourage both husbands and wives to buy the set of books called, “For Men Only” and “For Women Only” by Shaunti and Jeff Feldhahn. (Ladies, you may want to get the audiobook or MP3 for your husband.)

These books do two things:

  • Help men be far less clueless as to how to keep their wives happy
  • Reveal to women just how clueless they are about what really makes their husbands happy.

Whether you want to make a good marriage better, a struggling marriage good, or you just want to decrease the hurt feelings and disrespect, make these books the love gift of choice this month!

“Let him Kiss me with the kisses of his mouth–for your love is more delightful than wine”
~Song of Solomon 1:2

“How beautiful you are, my darling! Oh, how beautiful”
~Song of Solomon 1:15

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

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

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