An ACOD and The Ghost of Christmas Past

 

Christmas joy filled my childhood home. With snow falling and carols flowing from the record player, Hallmark movies were pale imitations of the Yuletides I enjoyed. Glorious Santa celebrations, complete with gifts, laughter, food, and fun, continued until I turned the corner into my teen years. There awaited my parents’ divorce.

Regretfully, the Christmases my mom, sisters, and I enjoyed after that point are dim memories. My mother moved mountains to make each December 25th special, but my appreciation for her efforts was pitifully small. Season’s greetings just weren’t the same for a teenage boy who missed his dad. The day was special, but something–actually someone–was missing. Also, unbeknownst to me, this period birthed a ghost of Christmas past.

Unlike those of Charles Dickens’ fame, mine wasn’t front and center. This specter hovered at the corners of my mind and shrouded my view of the sacred holiday. For years, at the first sound of Noel-tinted melodies, the ghost would awake from hibernation and get to work. However, its job wasn’t to teach me lessons from Christmases past. Planting seeds of remorse was its charge—thoughts of Christmases that never were, or holidays that should have included my dad and mom together.

In adulthood, I worked retail. Many in this field will tell you that the time of year people should have the most Christmas spirit seems to be the season they have the least.  So my retail management career, combined with the efforts of Casper’s evil twin, slowly produced an intense distaste for the season that celebrated my Savior’s birth. Though happily married with a growing family, an unexplained cloud hung over the festive tunes and TV programs. Smiles came hard, and joy had deserted me years earlier.

Why do I share this during this “most wonderful time of the year”? For two reasons: first, too many adult children of divorce can relate to these emotions, but have never given them voice. Second, to encourage you.

As I learned to turn toward the pain of the holidays and how to move on, God exposed the unfriendly ghost and I sent it packing. Then, like the Grinch, my heart grew three sizes that day! Over time, the clouds from the past parted and revealed the beauty of a baby born in a manger. A beauty that transcends who may or may not be celebrating with me around the tree.

This is a gift God would like to give you too. Seem impossible? “With God, all things are possible”1—even restoring your joy. Pray to Him and ask Him to bring healing to your heart. It’s a journey, but one God wants to do with you! Why not make that your new year’s resolution?

 

 1Matthew 19:26

Images
Hark the Herald Angels sing – http://www.dwellingplaceindy.org/hark-the-herald-angels-sing/
Emily’s Christmas Tree Cookies by Ralph Dally
madhouse Macy’s at Xmas by Eric Mueller
Star of Bethlehem Nativity by Garrett W

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Stepfamilies and the Holidays

Many adult children of divorce (and their spouses) are networked into a stepfamily. Stepfamilies can add layers of complications to relationships and holiday dynamics.

stepfamily-cartoon-by-dorthy-b-torres

Doing better than “surviving the holidays” begins with understanding what’s really going on. This requires separating fact from fiction. Terry Clark-Jones just posted a strong article titled “Dispel Stepfamily Myths.” She lists ten common stepfamily myths and corresponding truths.The Smart Stepfamily bk

Another organization that offers excellent information about stepfamily dynamics and how to incorporate them successfully is Ron Deals’ Smart Stepfamily ministry. His book and ministry offer solid, truthful, real, and biblical help for all those who are trying to make the stepfamily thing work.

Deep down, our desire is for a family that has “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.”1 Seem impossible? “With God all things are possible.”Committing your ways to God and reviewing these resources can be a strong step toward enjoying the holiday season this year!

 

1Galatians 5:22-23, NLT
2Matthew 19:26, NIV

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Stepfamily Cartoon by Dorthy B. Torres from stepfamilyrochester.org

“The Twelve Days of Christmas” for Adult Children of Divorce

by Kent Darcie

For some, the words of this carol (ACD style) are true. For many, the words reflect ideas that seem far beyond reality. Regardless of where you are today, here are five ways you can make next year’s Christmas season better!ChristmasTree with presents png 75

  1. Remember, “With God, all things are possible.”1  Make sure your efforts to change things are bathed in prayer and guided by scripture.
  2. Commit to learning how your parents’ divorce is affecting you and your relationships.
  3. Take intentional steps to heal and change by using the tools on our Resources Page.
  4. Make a New Year’s resolution that this version of the “Twelve Days of Christmas” will be true for you next year!
  5. Let me know of your commitment so I can pray for you. I can be reached at acdministries@gmail.com.

The Twelve Days of Christmas for Adult Children of Divorce

On the first day of Christmas, these things I’m thankful for
a day filled with Christmas cheer

On the second day of Christmas, these things I’m thankful for
A loving spouse or friend
And a day filled with Christmas cheer

On the third day of Christmas, these things I’m thankful for
My great kids
Loving spouse or friend
And a day filled with Christmas cheer

On the fourth day of Christmas, these things I’m thankful for
a home filled with love
My great kids
Loving spouse or friend
And a day filled with Christmas cheer

star and mangerOn the fifth day of Christmas, these things I’m thankful for
A peaceful heart
Home that’s filled with love
My great kids
Loving spouse or friend
And a day filled with Christmas cheer

On the sixth day of Christmas, these things I’m thankful for
Growing in my trusting
A peaceful heart
Home that’s filled with love
My great kids
Loving spouse or friend
And a day filled with Christmas cheer

On the seventh day of Christmas, these things I’m thankful for
Living with forgiveness
Growing in my trusting
A peaceful heart
Home that’s filled with love
My great kids
Loving spouse or friend
And a day filled with Christmas cheer

On the eighth day of Christmas, these things I’m thankful for
Dealing with my anger
Living with forgiveness
Growing in my trusting
A peaceful heart
Home that’s filled with love
My great kids
Loving spouse or friend
And a day filled with Christmas cheer

On the ninth day of Christmas, these things I’m thankful for
Healing from my sorrow
Dealing with my anger
Living with forgiveness
Growing in my trusting
A peaceful heart
Home that’s filled with love
My great kids
Loving spouse or friend
And a day filled with Christmas cheerfamily praying together

On the tenth day of Christmas, these things I’m thankful for
Love among my siblings
Healing from my sorrow
Dealing with my anger
Living with forgiveness
Growing in my trusting
A peaceful heart
Home that’s filled with love
My great kids
Loving spouse or friend
And a day filled with Christmas cheer

On the eleventh day of Christmas, these things I’m thankful for
Parents who are speaking
Love among my siblings
Healing from my sorrow
Dealing with my anger
Living with forgiveness
Growing in my trusting
A peaceful heart
Home that’s filled with love
My great kids
Loving spouse or friend
And a day filled with Christmas cheer

On the twelfth day of Christmas, these things I’m thankful for
God’s faithful guidance
Parents who are speaking
Love among my siblings
Healing from my sorrow
Dealing with my anger
Living with forgiveness
Growing in my trusting
A peaceful heart
Home that’s filled with love
My great kids
Loving spouse or friend
And a day filled with Christmas cheer

1Matthew 19:26, New King James Version.

AdultChildrenofDivorce.net Merry Christmas

The Reason for the Manger

mangerMy Friends,
Twenty Centuries ago God showed humanity how much He loved us. Unfortunately it’s sometimes hard to grasp why God had to come here to earth. Do you have a tough time with the “manger story” and all that?
My favorite Christmas story was told by Paul Harvey and it explains the nativity in simple terms in a way only he could do. Listen, understand, rejoice, and have a very blessed and Merry Christmas.
Kent

A Gift for Yourself this Christmas

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 

wrapped giftAn 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.

My Story
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 peoYoung Woman Biting Her Finger Nailple 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.

The Solution
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.

Charlie brown and linus copyMore 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]