DIVORCE

Q: "I was seven when my parents were divorced. I thought it was my fault. I didn't know why, I just thought I did something wrong. As I have gotten older, however, I realized that my parents' issues were not my fault."

 A:Whenever your parents have any fights its never your fault. If your having problems dealing with it, ask and talk to your parents before getting upset and blaming yourself.

 
Q: "I was eight years old when my parents separated. I never thought it was my fault but I believed it was my mom's because that's what my dad told me. They got divorced when I was thirteen. I didn't really feel anything because they were separated for so long. However, my view changed. I started getting mad at my dad because I realized his alcohol problem and I knew how much it hurt my mom. This whole issue was a learning experience for me because it helped me understand the problems which my father had. I also learned that I couldn't use this as a crutch. I had to move on with my life and help my mother move on with hers. Now, as I move on I know that I can't help my father he has to help himself."

A:Don't ever use whatever happens to your parents as a crutch. Be all you can be and if you have a problem talk to your parents because you should never hold things in.

 Q: "I don't remember my parents ever being together, never. I never thought it was my fault. I always believed it was my father's. I think my father is incompetent and plays games. He doesn't know how to be a father. I, did, learn from this experience how to raise a child and that you need God to do it."


A: Never think divorce is your fault. You can't change it or make it better. Learn from your parents and grow in the Lord because He'll be your mother or your father.

 KEEP HOPE ALIVE!

 Q: "I was eleven when my parents were divorced but they were separated ever since I was four. I was more confused than anything. I never thought it was my fault but I did have a feeling they were going to get back together. This was a learning experience for me because after I realized both sides of the story I realized why they got divorced. I learned that my mom and dad would always love me."

A: If you are a child going through divorce, realize that it's not your fault, because that's the first step to overcome. Listen to both sides of the story and don't just take one person's side, because if the other side sees your tension the problem could get worse.

 HELP FOR THE HURTING: The following was written by a psychologist specializing in helping teens deal with the divorce of their parents.

Broken families are on of life's greatest tragedies. We know clearly from the bible that it was never God's plan for families to experience such devastation.

My heart goes out to the many children of such broken marriages who suffer much pain as result of their parents' action. It is never easy for anyone to go through what you have gone through, or perhaps are even going through right now. Yet in some sense, God will still be able to use this unfortunate experience to prepare you for a life that will be fuller and richer. So if your parents are divorced, how does it affect you and what can you do about it? When parents split up, there can be many emotions that a youth may have to deal with. These feelings, internalized or expressed, will result in certain behavior. We will first examine the emotional issues and then move on to the consequential behavior of youths in divorce situations. After which, we will look at the relational circumstances concerning these issues.

 DEEP HURT: Divorce hurts! It is the collapse of a God intended design, the family nucleus. Children can get robbed of a special experience and protection called "Family". They move on in their lives as individuals without the understanding of what familial security and bond is. They look out into the world and wonder why it has dealt them a cruel card in life. "Why me? Why can't it be Tim, the big bully. Surely he deserves it more than I do?!" Having to deal with divorced parents can sometimes also be much harder than if one were to grieve their loss through death. Some people, however, swing to the opposite end by denying that it affects them. They try to go on merrily in their lives projecting an image that they are handling it well. The truth is, there is a world of difference between what one experiences in a healthy family versus one that is broken. It does not, however, spell condemnation or doom in your life. You can do something about it. The operative word here is "do". This implies that you need to take time to identify the feelings and thoughts that are running through you. To ask all the questions you need to ask, and then allow yourself to grieve through this loss. Only when you know what you feel can you learn to overcome it, and move on with better strength, positiveness and hope. Healing is necessary. Do not shortchange yourself.

 ANGER & BITTERNESS: While hurt is something internal and private, anger on the other hand, is an expression or your hurt turned towards others. It is not wrong to feel angry. If someone is continually hurting you and do not want to be fair towards you, it is only natural that you get upset and angry towards that person. The sinful part only occurs when you begin to translate this anger into hate by trying to retaliate, or when you harbor a deep seated bitterness that is not willing to seek forgiveness and reconciliation actively. In Ephesians 4:26 we read that we should not sin while we may be angry, and that we need to resolve or release this anger as soon as possible. Note that it did not condemn anger per se. It talks about letting this anger linger on until it turns cancerous and deadly and results in sin - when we take justice into our own hands. Anger is natural. Learn to accept the fact that people are not perfect and sometimes we get caught in circumstances that casuse us pain, even though we do not deserve it. Surrender this anger over to the Lord in prayer and allow Him to minister to this internal pain so that you may be able to forgive, and in the process of your own healing, learn even to relinquish and love those who have wronged you. It can be tough to do, but this is the true Christian conduct - that we do not deny our God-given human emotion, but learn to take responsibility for it and at the same time , committing the persons whom we feel angry about to the love and care of our Lord.

GUILT: In some instances, children may feel responsible for their parents divorce. This could be due to the fights that the parents may have over them. Sometimes, parents openly declare to them that they are splitting up because of irreconcilable differences on parenting. Other parents may blame the child for their breakup because they may feel that the child has added more stress in their marriage, causing them much emotional tension and loss of time for each other. All of these reasons given are NOT valid. You are not responsible for your parents' breakdown in their marriage. They are. Whatever stress they may have encountered because of you ( assuming that this was true), it is still their responsibility to deal with it. If necessary, they should seek help. To put blame on the child for their actions is cowardly. If they have been unable to manage a situation and have been irresponsible, then it is they who should face the guilt not someone else.

 SHAME & INFERIORITY: A loss of family identity often makes one feel inadequate or incomplete. The truth of the matter is, none of us are, whether we come from a broken home or no. It is only in Christ that we find completeness. Many children from broken families often feel inferior to others. Sometimes, people around are ignorant and ask questions like "It's father's day today, where is your dad?" or "How come you are sometimes contacted at this number and other times at another number?". These innocent questions often forces the child to face the painful reality of his family situation over and over again. Even the forms that you fill sometimes require you to state your parent's names, their addresses, their marital status and their relationship to you. Do you not let the evil one put you in constant shame. Claim the verses in Romans 8:1-4 where we are told that there is therefore no more condemnation for those who are in Christ, because of the power of His death on the cross and His resurrection. We do not need to live in shame and feel like failures. Life is abundant with Jesus ; there is still so much more to live for.

 LOW SELF-ESTEEM: Children from divorced families often feel rejected. The feeling that one has been abandoned by the two closest people in the world often leaves scars that are difficult to heal. The child is left to try to understand why thses two people cannot stay together and may even personalize the blame because they feel that they are not good enough to bring them back together. Dealing with low self-esteem requires absolute honesty to establish an accurate picture of who we are, positive or otherwise. This means that we do not try to deny that we have problems. We accept that this is the case. However, we push this further by asking ourselves what these problems really mean in our lives and what we can do about it. Often, when one goes through this process, it is evident that the consequences are not as bad as they seem to be. Life goes on. you still have the ability to integrate into the larger scheme of things. The fact is, most people are not the slightest bit concerned whether you are from a broken family or not. They just accept you as you are. If they don't , then it is they who have a problem, and you can pray for them instead of getting unnecessarily hurt. We have discussed some of the emotional issues and how to resolve them. Let's now look at the common behavior exhibited by people from such broken families.

 CARRYING A PARACHUTE: Once I was dealing with a lady whose husband was having an affair. After about six sessions with her, things improved for her. I then decided to see the children to find out how this was affecting them. Her daughter, Mary, was a bright lovely girl in her second year at the university, majoring in Business Administration. When I asked her how she felt about what was going on with the family, she turned to her mother and with tears rolling down her eyes she said, "Mum, I cannot understand why you let daddy treat you this way. If any man did this to me, I would walk out on him." Obviously, Mary had a lot of resentment in her. But what was very subtle in her response was that she stands a high risk for divorce in her own marriage to come. Persons like Mary carry a parachute in their marriages. When the going gets tough, she jumps out of the plane and say, "I'm not taking this from you." Marriage is hard work. There are, of course, happy times, but I guarantee you that there will also be trying and painful times. During these very unpleasant moments, Mary might walk out if she is unable to get any immediate breakthrough in the relationship. Research shows that people who come from broken families are twice as much at risk in having failed marriages. Many of us do not realize how much we actually pick up from our own upbringing. We carry them into our lives. We need to watch out for this so that we do not carry over the negative aspects. Or it may just end up as a vicious cycle, from generation to generation.

 TWO EXTREME RESPONSES

I can never ever trust people...Some come out badly wounded from these family battles and develop complex defense systems within them . There is no one who is absolutely trustworthy to them because the two people they had trusted the most were also the two people who had hurt them most. Such people often exhibit a strong fighting character, are highly self-sufficient and do not like to socialize. They are very task-oriented and place little emphasis on human relationship, thinking that people are never dependable. You do not need to carry such a heavy burden in you life. Contrary to what you may have experienced, we are created to enjoy fellowship with one another. God is a relational God. We must have hurt Him over and over again and yet He beckons us to always come back to Him. With His outstretch hands, he extends His love to us all the time. Not to have meaningful relationships would rob us of an opportunity for growth that is so important for the development of character. It is through differences and conflicts that we learn to change ourselves, and learn to accept people as they are.

 I will never let others go through pain...This is a form of over compensation, where we tend to smother others. We want so badly for others to be happy because of how we have been deprived of it ourselves. Yet we actually "rob" them of their need to grow through mistakes and pain. I am not suggesting that we do not care, but rather, that we strict a balance. A baby will not learn how to walk if the parents do not allow him to try despite fearing that he may fall and hurt himself. We need to allow personal learning process to take place before we can learn, grow and develop our own individuality. By over-compensating, we become targets where others will begin to take advantage of our weaknesses. Or they may even resent you for limiting their freedom. Healthy relationships require a proper balance of discipline and freedom. Why do we discuss emotions and behavior first? Because ultimately, they will be manifest in our relationships and affect how we deal with people. The following are some relational aspects of suffering from a divorce.

 Children as Pawns: This refers to the situation where parents use their children to communicate with or spy on each other. A father who is paying maintenance to the wife may want to know how much mum earns so that he feels justified in stopping or reducing the money. Another instance may be to find out "Who is mummy or daddy seeing these days?" Such interactions places stress on the child because he is put in a double bind. If I help my mother or father, I am actually working against the other. If I don't help, then I'm actually trying to protect the other parent. Either way the child chooses to move, he will always find himself taking sides with either parent.

 The Angel & Devil: Often there is a tendency, sometimes unconsciously, for each of the parents to want to project themselves to be the innocent party. By doing so, however, they often have to "cut" the other person down so as to make themselves look good. This is not only childish, but it can extend the grief and damage unnecessarily.

 Venting To The Child: Parents projecting their anger with their ex-spouse onto their children is not only detrimental, but over time, their sharp disagreements will belong to the child as well. The child begins to get a piece of the action and becomes involved in this unpleasant war. Children with such experiences often report a deep sense of resentment. Some may also feel guilty they feel that they have contributed actively to the marriage breakdown.

 The Child Entrepreneur: Manipulative children will capitalize on this very quickly. These are the children who would play one parent against the other to get what they want. If mummy says "no" to a new pair of in-line skates, never mind, let's ask daddy instead. If I am not allowed to watch too much television, I'll just spend more time in the other parent's place because he/she treats me much better. Parents often fall into this trap as they feel responsible for what they have put their children through and would try to compensate for it to reduce or absolve their own guilt. What's more, they are also achieving the goal of being the better parent. This confirms to them that their ex-spouse was difficult to live with, not realizing, of course, they are playing into the child's trap. Understanding what has happened will not change things, but the insights will help us to be more cautious to the hang-ups that each of us may have resulting from such experiences. This will help us work out our own relationships in the future. Finally, you need to remember that you cannot change that which is past. You do, however, have choices. Choose to accept your history and not to let it affect you in your quest for a meaningful and balanced life. Learn to express your feelings. Allow friends and relatives to rally around you to support and minister to you when necessary. If the pain is still great or if you have issues that need to be dealt with, please see a trained counselor who is a committed Christian so that both of you can identify and work out the issues that may still be present. Learn what it means to have a commitment and focus all your energy on this when the going gets tough.