News and Noteworthy


Long and Winding Road out of the gay lifestyle: a story of forgiveness

The headline over at LifeSiteNews says this is a story out of the gay lifestyle. And so it it. But it is first and foremost an inspiring story of forgiveness and repentance. Any Survivor of the Sexual Revolution, any person seeking peace, can benefit from this article. 

A sample: 

 

I embarked upon an incredible journey of forgiveness, having many people from my past, and especially men, that I needed to forgive. The therapy and prayer sessions I now regularly engaged in never focused solely on my being sexually attracted to men, but I was encouraged to look every aspect of my present and past in the eye. This included the painful process of accepting that I had been consistently sexually abused by a number of men as a child over a three-year period.

Much of my spiritual journey became concerned with recognizing where, during my infancy and childhood, my little soul had chosen to build walls within myself against significant others in my life, especially against my parents, siblings and other prominent people from my past.

He faced the wrong that was done to him (child sexual abuse) and at the same time took responsibility for the ways he had built walls around himself. Eventually, he became able to forgive those who had wronged him. 

Survivors of all sorts: please study this! 


 


How Could Divorce Affect My Kids?

By Amy Desai, J.D.

This article was first published at Focus on the Family.

Many years ago, the myth began to circulate that if parents are unhappy, the kids are unhappy, too. So divorce could help both parent and child. "What's good for mom or dad is good for the children," it was assumed. But we now have an enormous amount of research on divorce and children, all pointing to the same stubborn truth: Kids suffer when moms and dads split up. (And divorce doesn't make mom and dad happier, either.)

The reasons behind the troubling statistics and the always-present emotional trauma are simple but profound. As licensed counselor and therapist Steven Earll writes:


Children (and adult children) have the attitude that their parents should be able to work through and solve any issue. Parents, who have given the children life, are perceived by the children as very competent people with supernatural abilities to meet the needs of the children. No problem should be too great for their parents to handle. For a child, divorce shatters this basic safety and belief concerning the parents' abilities to care for them and to make decisions that truly consider their well-being.

Children have the strong belief that there is only one right family relationship, and that is Mom and Dad being together. Any other relationship configuration presents a conflict or betrayal of their basic understanding of life. In divorce, children [tend to] resent both the custodial and absent parent."1

Research on Children and Divorce

While virtually every child suffers the lost relationship and lost security described above, for many, the emotional scars have additional, more visible consequences. More than 30 years of research continues to reveal the negative effects of divorce on children. Most of these measurable effects are calculated in increased risks. In other words, while divorce does not mean these effects will definitely occur in your child, it does greatly increase the risks. The odds are simply against your kids if you divorce.

Research comparing children of divorced parents to children with married parents shows:

  • Children from divorced homes suffer academically. They experience high levels of behavioral problems. Their grades suffer, and they are less likely to graduate from high school.2
  • Kids whose parents divorce are substantially more likely to be incarcerated for committing a crime as a juvenile.3
  • Because the custodial parent's income drops substantially after a divorce, children in divorced homes are almost five times more likely to live in poverty than are children with married parents.4
  • Teens from divorced homes are much more likely to engage in drug and alcohol use, as well as sexual intercourse than are those from intact families.5

Before you say, "Not my kid," remember that the children and teens represented in these statistics are normal kids, probably not much different from yours. Their parents didn't think they would get involved in these things, either. Again, we're looking at increased risks.

A few more statistics to consider:

  • Children from divorced homes experience illness more frequently and recover from sickness more slowly.6 They are also more likely to suffer child abuse.7
  • Children of divorced parents suffer more frequently from symptoms of psychological distress.8 And the emotional scars of divorce last into adulthood.9

The scope of this last finding — children suffer emotionally from their parents' divorce — has been largely underestimated. Obviously, not every child of divorce commits crime or drops out of school. Some do well in school and even become high achievers. However, we now know that even these children experience deep and lasting emotional trauma.

For all children, their parents' divorce colors their view of the world and relationships for the rest of their lives.

Wallerstein Study

Psychologist Judith Wallerstein followed a group of children of divorce from the 1970s into the 1990s. Interviewing them at 18 months and then 5, 10, 15 and 25 years after the divorce, she expected to find that they had bounced back. But what she found was dismaying: Even 25 years after the divorce, these children continued to experience substantial expectations of failure, fear of loss, fear of change and fear of conflict.10 Twenty-five years!

The children in Wallerstein's study were especially challenged when they began to form their own romantic relationships. As Wallerstein explains, "Contrary to what we have long thought, the major impact of divorce does not occur during childhood or adolescence. Rather, it rises in adulthood as serious romantic relationships move center stage . . . Anxiety leads many [adult children of divorce] into making bad choices in relationships, giving up hastily when problems arise, or avoiding relationships altogether." 11

Other researchers confirm Wallerstein's findings.12 Specifically, compared to kids from intact homes, children who experienced their parents' divorce view premarital sex and cohabitation more favorably.13 (This is disturbing news given that cohabiting couples have more breakups, greater risk of domestic violence14 and are more likely to experience divorce.15)

Behind each of these statistics is a life — a child, now an adult, still coping with the emotions brought on by the divorce.

As Wallerstein put it, "The kids [in my study] had a hard time remembering the pre-divorce family . . . but what they remembered about the post-divorce years was their sense that they had indeed been abandoned by both parents, that their nightmare [of abandonment] had come true."16

Parents tend to want to have their own needs met after a divorce – to find happiness again with someone new. But not only do the old problems often resurface for the adults, new problems are added for the children. As Wallerstein observed, "It's not that parents love their children less or worry less about them. It's that they are fully engaged in rebuilding their own lives — economically, socially and sexually. Parents' and children's needs are often out of sync for many years after the breakup."17 Children again feel abandoned as parents pursue better relationships after the breakup."

Feelings of abandonment and confusion are only compounded when one or both parents find a new spouse. A second marriage brings complications and new emotions for children — not to mention new stepsiblings, stepparents and stepgrandparents, who often are in competition for the parent's attention. (And the adjustment can be even more difficult — because it is the adults who choose new families, not the children.)

Lilly expressed it this way: "My loss was magnified as my father remarried and adopted a new 'family.' Despite attempts on my part to keep in touch, we live in different cities, and his life now revolves around his new family with infrequent contact with me. This has only increased the feelings of abandonment and alienation from the divorce."

And the high rate of second-marriage divorces can leave children reeling from yet another loss.

Full "recovery" is nearly impossible for children because of the dynamic nature of family life. While you and your ex-spouse's lives may go on separately with relatively little thought, your children will think about their loss almost every day. And 25 years after the fact, they will certainly be influenced by it. Life itself will remind them of the loss at even the happiest moments. As Earll explains: "Children never get over divorce. It is a great loss that is in their lives forever. It is like a grief that is never over. All special events, such as holidays, plays, sports, graduations, marriages, births of children, etc., bring up the loss created by divorce as well as the family relationship conflicts that result from the 'extended family' celebrating any event."18

Not an Easy Out

What parents see as a quick way out often results in emotional damage that the children will carry for 30 years or more. Divorce is no small thing to children. It is the violent ripping apart of their parents, a loss of stability and often a complete shock. While we often think of children as resilient, going through such trauma is a lot to ask of our kids.

In light of the fact that most marriages heading for divorce can be salvaged and turned into great marriages, parents should take a long pause before choosing divorce. While it may seem like a solution to you, it's not an easy out for you or your kids.

 



Divorce is good and other myths: Column

Don't buy into popularity of unhitched culture.

by Diane Medved

This article was posted on usatoday.com on October 23, 2013.

The books just keep coming: Collaborative Divorce, Happy Divorce ,The Good Karma Divorce, The Creative Divorce . Reading the articles and books, you might get the idea that The Good Divorce is a sacrament, not a disaster.

One typical story featured a family gathered together comfortably: the ex-husband with his new wife, his old wife with her new husband, their son and his new baby. Now they're just peachy, they insist, and experts agree.

Constance Ahrons, who coined the phrase "good divorce," thinks split families should meld seamlessly, without stigma, into our social fabric. The message seems simple: With the right attitude, divorce can lead to a relatively pleasant mélange of happily combined relatives. But that wasn't what I saw in my years counseling divorcing couples.

A year later, most divorced couples claim they're stronger, better and smarter. So why not "good divorce"?


Heartache, financial loss and time detangling bring irreparable setbacks. Lots of spouses get dumped. Eighty percent of U.S. divorces "are unilateral, rather than truly mutual decisions," notes researcher Maggie Gallagher. Still, healthy people can wade through the hurt and make the best of the situation.

That doesn't ameliorate the damage. Children, who never have a say in their parents' parting, become collateral damage and dismissed with the dubious phrase "kids are resilient." Judith Wallerstein, whose landmark 25-year study of divorced families convinced her of its ongoing harm, found that "many of these ... children forfeited their own childhoods as they took responsibility for themselves, their troubled, overworked parents; and their siblings." The trauma peaks in adulthood, she cautions, undermining love, sexual intimacy and commitment.

Divorce mars the lives of in-laws and unsettles otherwise contented bystanders; it unsteadies society, destabilizes neighborhoods and brings awkwardness in social encounters.

Yet a "culture of divorce" has grown as new technologies gave us feel-good instant gratification, demoting the virtues of duty and obligation. Americans' attention span shrank from reading tomes to watching TV shows to three-minute YouTube videos to six seconds of a Vine.

Our notion of commitment became shorter, too. Marriage pledges are now really "hopes," easily revised by a Facebook status change. The New York Times' "Vows" page recently began a new column called "Unhitched," each week highlighting one couple's divorce.

Stripped of connection to paternity, marriage has become optional. The latest figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveal that 48% of women cohabited with a partner as a first union, The overall out-of-wedlock birth rate topped 40% in 2011.

Years ago, tempted cartoon characters paused to consider the coaxing of an angel perched on their right shoulder and a devil on their left. The conscience angel urged, "Do your duty! Do what is moral and right! Defer gratification!" The self-centered devil whispered, "Do what feels good! Follow your heart! Get what you want, right now!"

Granted, not all marriages can survive, like the hopeless cases where an abusive or addicted spouse won't get help. To overcome problems, both partners must want to stay married; the hitch is that our non-judgmental culture greases their paths out the door instead of encouraging deep introspection.

I learned two lessons counseling divorcing couples. First, a rejected mate usually requires at least half as long as the marriage to recover. Second, recovery occurs not when a spouse "feels good" about the former mate, but when she's indifferent.

Our accept-it-all milieu grants so much leeway for individual happiness that relationships have no backbone with which to stand. The little devil perched on society's slumping shoulder gloats, "You can have a good divorce! Do what you want, and do it now!" That angel guy is so old-school, he can't even text his apologies to the kids whose lives turn upside down.

Diane Medved, a clinical psychologist, is author of The Case Against Divorce.