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

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Do You Know About Judith Wallerstein?

Judith Wallerstein is considered one of the foremost experts on the impact of parental divorce on kids after they grow up. Back iThe-Unexpected-Legacy-of-Divorce-Wallerstein-Judith-9780786886166n the year 2000, “The View” type programs proclaimed that divorce was a mere blip in the lives of the children.  Wallerstein’s “The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce” rained on their party by exposing much of the prevailing scholarly wisdom as myths.

Wallerstein’s research found two commonly taught “truths” were false. The first was, “If the parents are happier because of the divorce, the kids will be too. The second myth was that divorce is a temporary crisis whose impact is mostly experienced by the children around the time of the divorce. These wishful beliefs, which continue today, are viewed through an adult lens. Wallerstein found that the children’s perspective was quite different. acd yoke with ball and chain with lables cropped

For me, her book put names and normalcy on emotions I was experiencing, but didn’t know why. God used Wallerstein to launch my journey of healing and restoration. Additionally, He created my hunger to share what I’d learned with others through this ministry.

Judith WallersteinToday is the anniversary of Judith Wallerstein’s passing in 2012. I encourage you to read this landmark book. “The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce” opened my eyes to the world I lived in, but was too lost in the trees to see the forest. I’m grateful for her courage to stand up before opposition and share the truth that parental divorce hurts—and for a long time. Because of her actions, I can proclaim,

“All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort.  He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.”1

Thanks to Judith Wallerstein (and many who followed her), I’ve received God’s comfort, and through this ministry I offer it to you.

12 Corinthians 1:3-4, New Living Translation

Answering Questions Adults with Divorced Parents Ask

mind trigger sillowette pngRecently I guest hosted The Rick VanBriggles New Beginnings Radio Program.  That morning I answered some common questions that surround adult children of divorce. Click below to listen to the 30 minute program.

Remembering Judith Wallerstein: Adult Children of Divorce Researcher

Two years ago this week, Psychologist Judith Wallerstein passed away. She was considered, by many, as the ultimate authority on the effects of divorce on children. Her book, The Judith WallersteinUnexpected Legacy of Divorce: A 25 Year Landmark Study was released, in the year 2000, to great fanfare . Challenging the prevailing views on divorce, she dared to make the heretical claim that a parents’ divorce was not just a bump in the child’s life. Quite the contrary, the trauma continued to affect them well into their adulthood.

In a Huffington Post interview, Ms. Wallerstein said, “… the effects of divorce really crescendo when the kids are in late adolescence and entering young adulthood. They were angry and compassionate at the same time about their parents. And almost all of them had trouble in their relationships with the opposite sex. They were very suspicious of anything lasting, and they expected to be betrayed. One young woman said, ‘If my boyfriend is 20 minutes late, I wonder who he’s with.’ So for many of them, their twenties were the hardest years of their life, because they all wanted what their parents hadn’t had: love, and a family that would last.”1

For many of them, their twenties were the hardest years of their life, because they all wanted what their parents hadn’t had: love, and a family that would last”– Judith Wallerstein

I was heavy-heThe-Unexpected-Legacy-of-Divorce-Wallerstein-Judith-9780786886166arted learning of Ms. Wallerstein’s death. The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce was the first book I read on this topic. Page after page raised issues that challenged my long held belief that my folk’s divorce was an irritation, but nothing more. A bevy of facts, combined with my personal experiences, confirmed the truth of her research—my parent’s divorce was still impacting me.

Prior to this revelation I’d say, “My parents’ divorce happened a long time ago. Why bring it up when there’s nothing I can do to about it?” But now I’d been exposed to amazing information that created an insatiable hunger to learn more. God used the resulting journey to birth this ministry. and my passion to offer seminars, teachings, and other resources that can help adults with divorced parents avoid the generational cycle of divorce.

This book changed the trajectory of my life.  My commitment is to continue carrying the torch of truth Wallerstein lit.

 

1Judith Wallerstein, Julia Lewis, Sandra Blakeslee, The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce: A 25 Year Landmark Study1(New York, New York, Hyperion).
2Katie Hafner, “Q&A With Divorce Doyenne Judith Wallerstein”, November 13, 2010 11:04 AM  Huffington Post.

I’m afraid so… Why Don’t We Live Together… instead?

Adult children of divorce rarely vocalize “I’m afraid,” but fears creep along the corners of our minds like bugs in the shadows. Amidst those things we dread are inadequacy, conflict, and abandonment, but the fear of marriage lurks closest to the surface. When we see our parent’s marriage collapse… and our neighbors’, half of our friends’, and their parents, and even people at church, it’s no wonder we approach the nuptials with foreboding.toothbrushes his and hers cropped png

Those brave enough to push through their trepidation, find weak or missing templates for achieving a successful marriage. Consequently, a trial-run makes sense on the surface. An old Barry Manilow tune, “Why Don’t We Live Together” sums up the sentiment;  “Why don’t’ we live together. Only the two of us, we’ll learn to trust. Don’t have to say forever, ‘Cause we know the rain could start and break our hearts….And still have our wings to fly, if love should die.”1

These lyrics came to mind after reading a recent survey of cohabiting couples from PostiveSingles.com.  To my surprise, 45% of their respondents didn’t think living together was a good idea. Additionally most of their members believe marriage is the best solution for a stable relationship.2 The Bible agrees stating, “because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband.”3 But is this realistic in the 21st century?

This series will look at some commonly held “advantages” to cohabitation:

  • Economic benefits – we’ll save money living together
  • We need to confirm our compatibility before we tie the knot
  • Without the marriage certificate, it will be easier for us to part ways if the relationship doesn’t work out
  • Though he isn’t enthusiastic about marriage now, he’ll come around after he sees how great living with me is.

God lamented that “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge”4 Let’s allow His truth to allay our fears and illuminate our path to the relational happiness we desire.

 

1Barry Manilow, Trying to Get the Feeling, 1975, Written by Phillip Galdston & Peter Thom
2http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/05/prweb11880315.htm
31 Corinthians 7:2, English Standard Version
4Hosea 4:6, English Standard Version.

The Name Dilemma

by Kent Darcie

I’ll always remember the initial meeting with my first step-mom. She and Dad were already married and I was spending a week with them. She introduced herself as I hopped into the back seat of my dad’s Chrysler. That innocent greeting created a years-long dilemma for this teenage boy; how do I address this person?

Lest you fail to appreciate the depth of my quandary, consider these factors. This encounter occurred in the 1970’s. A young person who called an adult by their first name was inappropriate. Mr, Mrs, Miss, and later Ms, always preceded a last name when speaking with “an elder”. Though common today, using a first name to address my step-mother was unthinkable.

Multiple closed roadsAdditionally; my mother forbade me to call “that woman” Mom.  Mother, Mamma, Mommy, Mumsy, Madre, Mzazi, or any other word which applied to a human being who bore a child, was off limits as well. So what could I do?

I didn’t call my step-mom anything. Honestly, for years I never addressed her. For example, if she was needed for something while on the other side of the house, rather than shout “mom”, I’d go where she was and we’d speak directly. I’ll grant you it was inconvenient. My predicament almost seems silly now… almost. However, it served as a solution.

I’m amazed how lost I was in those post-divorce years. Ministries like DivorceCare4Kids and Focus on the Family were not yet created. The “silly” questions went unasked as a result. Thankfully, I can see the Lord’s guiding hand on my life during that time of questions without answers.

Also, in case you are wondering, the day finally arrived when I started addressing my dad’s new wife. I used her first name… but after I was in college.

Did you experience a situation, created by your parent’s divorce, which seems silly now?” Share it in the comment section.  You’ll find you’re not alone.

Is Hope Realistic? A Second Conversation with Jen Abbas; (part 1) by Kent Darcie

 Since this article was first printed, “Generation Ex” has been re-released as a kindle book on Amazon.

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“By the time I was nineteen, I had learned to numb my feelings. It took nearly a decade to bring them back.”1  Like many adult children of divorce my feelings were still numb when I read this quote in Generation EX: Adult Children of Divorce and the Healing of Our Pain2 by Jen Abbas. I previewed an advance copy of the book while doing research for a seminar I was developing to help adults with divorced parents identify and deal with the issues their parents’ divorce created. I found the book very different from others I had read.Generation ex cover

Jen guides her readers through the bewildering and maddening maze of divorced parents, stepparents, and assorted siblings like a rescuer leading a group of disoriented hikers back to civilization. The stories and statistics Jen share often feel raw and unsettling. But, I found the book filled with hope and was anxious to meet the author to glean more from her own experiences and research.

Jen was cautiously hopeful in our first interview back in 2004. She had weathered her mom’s two divorces before finishing high school. The evidence was scant that a quality relationship or successful marriage was in Jen’s future. While passion drove Jen to share what she’d learned with others, her hope still seemed strained under the weight of unanswered questions, uncertainty, and fear.

The bits and pieces of Jen’s life I’d heard about after that interview were encouraging. Jen Abbas was now Jen Abbas de Jong and she was the happy mother of a 3½ year old son. But I was curious to know if she had truly cut through the haze of fear and uncertainty that distorted her vision of the future when we first spoke. Recently, we held another question and answer session.

Interview with an Adult Child of Divorce

Q: In your book you wrote “I’ve doubted that the guy I liked would ask me out, and if he did, I doubted that he’d still be interested enough to ask me out again.”4  It appears that you overcame those obstacles.

A: It was about ten months from the time we met to the time we got married. He knew that I had written this book, and he likes to joke that I came with an owner’s manual. I feel like I’m part of a team, and we should conquer the world together.

Q: There is a marvelous chapter on preparing for marriage. Did you use any of it?

A: (laughing) We did! There’s a bunch of questions in there that we discussed.

Q: Has your parents’ divorce had any impact on who or how you are as a wife?

A: When people come from a divorce situation your default is to repeat the patterns that you saw. I left home and was on my own from the time I was 18 to 35. I had all that time to try to figure out how you deal with conflict—how do I want my life to look—how do I want my attitude to be—how do I learn to cultivate an attitude of grace and forgiveness?  Either you take the time to figure out how to have a different default while you’re single or, as I’ve heard from a lot of my friends who come from families of divorce, those first couple of years of marriage are really hard, because that’s when you learn.

Q: Is being a mom been different than you anticipated?

A: (laughing) I underestimated the lack of sleep you get as a parent—[turning serious] but just the idea that Daniel’s view of God, or understanding of God is strongly shaped on how secure he feels in his relationship with us—that’s a really overwhelming, beautiful, massive idea that I still kind of struggle to get my mind around. 

Q: Because that’s not something you had…

A: No.

Q: Your parents’ divorce was years ago. Does it have any impact on you as a mom today?

A: When he’s at kindergarten its going to be a really emotional year for me, because that is the year my mom and dad broke up. [Daniel] shouldn’t be worrying about is daddy coming home or his mommy coming home.