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This is a moderated blog is a project of the Ruth Institute. Have a story to share? We're listening.
Posted on: Monday, June 23, 2014
Growing up in suburban Philadelphia, the daughter of two yuppies, it seemed like I had everything. I was pretty sheltered, a shy child by nature and nurture. The later cause of my introverted nature was the fact that my parents avoided verbal communication with each other. The only time I remember them directly talking to each other was a rather loud fight.
Instead of providing a good relationship model and any hint of social skills for me, my parents’ example made me evade meaningful social interactions with my peers. I found refuge in school, dance, and music. Unfortunately, my older sister discovered escape through drinking, drugs, and sex.
Fast-forward to late 2003. I was in 8th grade, in the middle of the terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad stage of puberty. My parents announce that they are getting a divorce. Although they had been practically divorced during my entire life, this announcement turned my world upside down. My life-long depression spun out of control. I started experiencing suicidal thoughts. The climax of my depression was when I held a knife to my wrist. I wanted to kill myself, but I was afraid of the physical pain I would feel. I ended up putting the knife down. The next day, I went to see my guidance counselor at school. I told her what happened, and long story short, I was sent to the mental hospital. After my hospital visit, I continued therapy and medication.
While I no longer experienced suicidal thoughts, I still had much healing to accomplish. I learned that both my mother and my father had been in long-term relationships with other people (their current spouses). I also learned that my mother had been married before she met my dad. I was disgusted with the deceit and lies my parents had been feeding me. I was stronger than they thought, so why didn't they tell me the truth? I was so irate that they would blatantly lie to me!
In high school, I was still very shy and hesitant to develop real relationships. Subconsciously, I think that I was afraid of being hurt by others. My parents “relationship” consisted of mostly silent treatment, with occasional incidents of passive-aggressive behavior. In my mind, that was the pattern that all relationships followed. Throughout high school and the first year or two of college, I thought that in the rare chance that I became married, I would eventually get divorced.
Both my mother and father remarried, the former in January 2009 and the later in December 2011. My sister was in a serious relationship with a great guy. In my own family, I constantly felt like a third wheel in my family. I only started dating in college, but was consistently disappointed by the lack of authentic men on campus. Fortunately, I became more involved in my church community and learned about self-less, sacrificing, true relationships through academic study and personal witness of couples committed to each other, through good and bad times.
I will always carry some scars from my parents’ divorce. I share my story with you to show you that divorce is a horrible experience for children. If you come from a faith background, the following quote best sums up divorce:
"Divorce is when parents cast of their cross and give it to their children."
My story is just a small example of how deeply wounded our culture is by our destruction of marriage. We must work diligently to restore the true meaning of marriage as a sacrificial, life and love-giving union that produces children and furthers the good of all society. Marriage is a beautiful, life-long commitment and must be carefully entered into and protected and nourished by every one of us.
Posted on: Monday, June 23, 2014
by CTW (Illinois)
1973 - two years before the divorce
And now I have an addendum. My dad's third wife passed away a few months ago (in early 2014). In the aftermath of the third wife's death, my dad sold their house in Florida and prepared to move back up the Chicago area to be nearer to the children from his first two marriages. To everyone's surprise, my mom drove down to Florida with him to help him pack up the house, take things to Goodwill, deliver other items to the deceased wife's relatives, and so on. And then they drove up here to Illinois and now live in my mom's house together.
They seem to get along. They call each other "sweetie" and "love." They go shopping together. They have bought some new furniture. They are preparing a trip overseas to visit relatives. They behave like any retired couple.
All of this has taken place with no explanation, no announcement, no acknowledgement that this might be a little strange or even painful for their adult children. Every time I see them together, I think to myself, as I watch them fixing each other tea and sandwiches or whatever, "How come you didn't realize 40 years ago that you could actually get along? Don't you realize that your reconciliation is 40 years too late? At least two generations -- your offspring and their offspring -- are negatively impacted by your selfish choice of 40 years ago and now you waltz around acting like nothing happened, and we're all supposed to be so happy for you."
I am old enough and jaded enough to know not to bother saying any of the above to either of them (especially my mother -- she's the one who denies that the divorce had any serious impact on my brothers and I, since "we turned out all right") but I cannot help feeling bitter about this latest development.
Posted on: Sunday, June 22, 2014
by Shannon (Texas)
I was fairly young when my parents divorced, six. It was rough on my brother and I. My dad kidnapped me and brought me to court. He asked me to lie about my mother in hope that he would attain custody, that did not happen.
My parents fought a lot and I even witnessed arguments between my mother and his girlfriends. At one point a shoe was thrown between the two.
My dad did come to my elementary school graduation, but not much else. He was not there when I graduated high schools and He did not give me away when I got married, my brother did. The tension became worse when he showed up to my brothers wedding and wanted to act like we were one big happy family. There has always been tension in my life and when I started to date, I had a huge mistrust for men.
Several years ago, my mother passed away and I had to contact him and let him know. This is the first time I had spoken to him in many years. Soon after he sent a friend request to me on Facebook and I accepted only after several private messages were sent between the two of us. I needed to let him know how much he hurt me, by missing out on the formative years of my life.
We speak now, but I still keep him at arm length and know that he may have contributed to my DNA, but he has never truly been a Father to me.
Posted on: Sunday, February 02, 2014
So when I was four months old, my mom go diagnosed with CML. My dad kept on going to New York for work. When he was working on a movie he had sex with the girl who is 18 years younger than him. My mom found out when the baby was born.
My moms CML disappeared and the they went to court and I was 2 1/2 when I started going back and fourth. When I would go there, it was torture. I had to sleep in a very small bed. I had to share my bed with the baby.
After they were in court for two years, my moms CML came back. My mom could have died. Then my mom had to sell the house that we were living in. And we had to live in my grandmas house for six months. It was terrible. But I had to still go back and fourth. And the baby's name is Jack and Jack would have major tantrums he would bang his head against the ground and I would be in the kitchen corner crying. And they would yell, I hate it when people yell like that. Then me and my mom moved into a different house, it is huge and amazing.
My mom takes drugs for CML to stay away. My mom is healthy. But since we moved, I now live 2 hours away from my dads house. And then a year later, he got another child, named Ava. Everything changed after that. I knew something was up. At one point I slept on the couch and I also slept in a little teepee in the living room in a tiny house. Are you kidding me? And then I got and real normal bed when I was 8. And my mom is the best ever. And now I am almost 13, Jack is 10, Ava is almost 6. My relationship with my dad is not so good. I still see my dad every other weekend.
I got my helix piercing because he was in Morocco for work. I have been stealing stuff from him. And he just recently lost his watch, and I never stole it. Me and my mom are religious and I would text him and pray for him to find his watch, I would text him that I was doing that. And then he asks me privately if I stole it, I said, "No, l did not steal it. You can put a lie detector test on me."
I have been going to a therapist with my dad. I have only seen her a few times. Now, I don't see her anymore. Rachel, my step mom, is a hoar. She was also married to someone else while my dad was having sex with my dad. That is gross. And the last I went there I brought a notebook with me to write what happened when I was over there.
All of us watched Family Guy. They are insane for making us watch that. And my dad kept on staring at me. I would roll my eyes and try to show him that this is not fun, I am angry, I am pissed off right now. So then he would get mad. And then we decided to play Charades. After a few rounds, Jack and Ava were sort of fighting with each other. And Jack got sent into his room and Ava had to be carried into her bedroom and Rachel had to keep the door closed physically. I decided to go into my bedroom and I cried. I could hear yelling. Again, I hate it when people yell. It is so annoying.
The next day, Ava wakes me up and I am very angry, mad, and I had mixed emotions. Then Rachel took the kids away. I am happy about that. Then me and my dad saw Catching Fire. It was a great movie. Then we went home and an hour later I think, they come back. And I have to play with Ava. And I hate it when I have to and then my dad says this to me, "Be a better actor about it." At that moment, I wanted to kill him. Glad I had nothing in my hand because I would of used it. The the night was normal and then the next day he asked me if I stole his watch. I was so angry and I so wanted to murder him at that point. He has Peter Pan syndrome. And if you don't know what that is, look it up. And my bedroom looks like a cube. It is so tiny. Compared to my bedroom, it is huge. Pans I have my own bedroom. So that is my story.
Posted on: Tuesday, January 28, 2014
by Ryan (Midwest, USA)
Based on my personal experience, and what I've observed knowing dozens of people with divorced parents, it is my belief that there is no divorce that does not severely damage a child and set them back for their entire life.
Some divorces are necessary, as in cases of abuse or addiction problems. Some children of divorced parents will appear to survive or thrive. But children of divorce are much less likely to reach their full potential because they spend so many years and so much energy trying to climb out of the hole they start in. I will enumerate some of the problems it creates.
Again, this can all be dismissed as just part of life. We don't choose aging or death. Divorce is the parents' choice. Instead of sending their child off on their first bicycle ride with a running push, the divorced parents let the air out of their tires. Can the child roll anyway? Sort of Can they fix it? Maybe. But divorcing parents should be fully aware of what they're doing. If you're considering divorce, you obviously think you're going to get something out of it A second chance. A more romantic marriage with your cheating partner. Understand that your children will probably gain nothing and they are going to pay dearly. Is your pleasure worth the cost of their diminished lives?
Posted on: Tuesday, November 12, 2013
by Noah (Baltimore)
My parents were allegedly a common law marriage, but the state they lived in didn't recognize common law marriage at the time, so far as I can tell. They were hippies, my father was a drunk and a junkie, my mother left him when I was 2 and my brother 4.
My mother followed with a string of male and female relationships, though most of my youth she was a lesbian. She remarried in our adulthood, but divorced again after 12 years. All her siblings are divorced. My father remarried 4ish times and recently in his 60s decided he is meant to be a woman. He also feels the need to reconnect with us but that's all too messed up. He's never had a role in our lives, and managed to pay child support for one month out of our whole childhood. I have always wrestled with a lack of male figures who were sound and enviable. My brother and I both experienced mild neglect but also physical and sexual abuse from unsafe environments.
My brother married but wrestles with his role as father. We both started dating late, totally winging it and being taken advantage of by women, along with our own capacity for meting it out in response. I haven't dated seriously for almost 20 years, I'm mostly desperate and sad at age 42 and very single and ever more isolated from others, despite my recent embrace of Catholicism. I've always wrestled with unanswered prayer and seemingly absent divine father. My mother actually hints at and encourages me not getting married and the pleasures of not having a committed family life (this...she says to her own child whose life she messed with...).
I feel and think and am beginning to believe He in His Infinite wisdom is isolating me to keep me from continuing in a failed family legacy spanning generations on both sides of abuse and neglect. I and others may think I'd be a wonderful father, but what do I know about being a son, to God or man (especially given my F'ed upbiological father, who thinks he's a woman...)?
Posted on: Thursday, August 08, 2013
My mom needed to divorce my dad. He had been physically abusive for years. Eventually he committed adultery. While my mother felt totally betrayed, there was a part of her that was glad she finally felt no one could expect her to stay married to him. That was when I was 13.
Now I'm an adult, married with children of my own. My husband is a good man, but the idea of divorce is never far from my thoughts. I'm afraid he will leave me later for a younger woman, solution: divorce. There are times I feel so depressed about myself, and I don't want to have to drag him down, solution: divorce. There are times I'm so upset with him for not being perfect, solution: divorce. There are times I'm just tired of dealing with all the needs of taking care of a whole other person, along with my children, solution: divorce. My mom has managed to live pretty happily as a single mom.
I know divorce is nowhere near justifiable for me, but I fear that I just don't have the skills or personality to have a thriving marriage. I look at other aging couples, and see a lot of frustrations and incompatibilities. Can I endure that long? Am I that good of a person?
My only hope is through Christ, that He can change me, heal me. I'm impatient for the day that divorce won't linger in my thoughts so much. I wonder if this really is because I'm a child of divorce, or if I'm just weak.
I love my husband and my children, and the emotional violence of divorce is repugnant to me. And maybe that is the silver lining, that because I hate what divorce did to me, I don't want to do that to my children.
Posted on: Wednesday, August 07, 2013
by Cindy (Pennsylvania)
I was born in 1967. My parents were on the cutting edge of society then. My mother had become a career woman in 1961, when my brother was an infant. There were no daycares, only grandmas. Even after I was born, my mother wanted little to do with marriage and family. My father didn't seem to mind much until his career took him to another state and my mother never adjusted. She returned home and they separated. I was 3. After a short period, I suffered an illness and my father returned home. They remained amicable for my sake. But by the time I was 6, they barely spoke. Each had their own life and their own indiscretions. By the time I was 9, my parents were divorced. I was the only kid in class with divorced parents. I was very sad and very confused. They kept a lot of secrets from me, hoping, I think, to make it easier for me to adjust.
Initially the custody situation involved my brother living with my father full time and me with my mother. Our family was split right in two pieces. But after a series of my mother's instability, my mother agreed to give me to my father. Along with that, my mother also agreed in the divorce settlement to sell a large amount of family property for some jewelry. It was an inheritance from her father, but she sold it to my father thinking that my brother and I would still benefit. How ever wrong she was.
My father immediately remarried after the required 6 months. His new wife had come from an abusive relationship and also had a disabled child. I grew to love my step-sister, and honestly I am grateful for that experience. It gave me a tenderness for children with special needs that I still carry today. After my step-sister's death, my father and step-mother had a daughter together. I was 13. My world changed after that. Naturally, my father needed to focus on his new family. I can't fault him for that, after all he had a wife and child. Only my step-mother never sustained a meaningful relationship with me. After my father's death, we spoke only a few times. I tried to rekindle our relationship about 10 years ago, but she had a new husband and new "children" and "grandchildren." Ultimately, neither I nor my own children meant very much and it died before it started.
After being abandoned by my mother, I spent my youth basically without a mother. I had no contact with her from age 11 until I was 21. I knew nothing about her, other than rumors or messages from her sister. I was left without a mother and with a huge void.
Basically, I grew up in a home where I was not really a part of a family and ripped apart from the family I had been given. In high school I told people I was adopted rather than explain that my parents were divorced. I did the best I could, but made no real connections with family or friends. I was angry all the time and felt cheated. My parents had moved on with their lives and my brother and I had to do the best we could.
My brother and I are statistics. We graduated highschool, but couldn't make it through college. Drugs and alcohol got the best of us. He spent a few years in prison. We have a grown half-sister who my brother is interested in and with whom I try desperately to have a relationship. It isn't easy, but we try.
Today, my father is gone. I am left to take care of an aging, disabled mother who abandoned me and about whom I care nothing. For 10 years, I have been caring for her. That's longer than she cared for me.
The pain and anger still lie under the surface. I often wonder how different my life would have been if my parents had toughed it out and stayed together. My mother's property that was left to her by her father was left to my step-mother in my father's will. She shares it with her new husband. My brother and I hardly speak. I can't even look at my mother with love and admiration.
Luckily, this is not a fate I wanted to pass on to my own children. Even though we have had some rough times, my husband and I have been married 22 years. We have 7 children who have both their mother and father together at home.
If I could tell people who are thinking of divorcing anything, I would say please, for your children, work it out. Whatever problems you have, you can solve them. Really, you can! Put your children first. When you got married, you committed to raising a family together. So do it!
Trust me, the parents might be able to put the life with their spouse behind them, but the children suffer forever, even after the parents are long gone.
Posted on: Wednesday, July 24, 2013
by Second class citizen (USSA)
I was the eldest child in step family situations on both sides. It was like being a second class citizen in my own family. On my mother's side, a new child was born, and the entire family revolved around this new child. On my dad's side, he remarried women who had kids from prior relationships. In both instances, I felt like an "add on" and I felt like I was standing outside, looking in. I felt like my birthright was stolen from me. Not only did nobody care, I was expected to love these people and these situations, while they were not required to love my family on the opposite side. Emotionally it was a one way street--I gave love to their whole families, they gave love to 1/2 of mine.
Just today I had a conversation with a friend whom I had not talked to in a long time. She remarried a couple years ago, and new husband has younger kids. She remarked that even though she loves her husband very much, it is so hard with the kids, and she sounded a little bitter about it. The elder girl just turned 13 and is beginning to act up. I didn't say anything, but I wanted to say, "As hard as it is for you, it's about 100 times harder for the kids." I felt a little offended at her words. The kids intuit that their family has been destroyed, but they cannot articulate it yet. And even if they could, would they? Not likely. So they will act out. I'm sure that for now, they buy the crappy line that it's just an alternate family form. I call foul. It's only an alternative family form from the adult's perspective. From the child's perspective, their family has been destroyed. There is no way to sugar coat this--this is the reality.
I think it should be illegal for a parent to remarry if the kids are under 18, maybe even under 21. The new spouse, that spouse's family, and new children creates a new family structure, on that the older children are not part of, one that they may not even want to be part of. They don't want to be forced to love people and those people's family, who do not in turn love their whole family. It creates emotional obstacles for the older children that may take them their entire lives to unravel and heal. I'm 47 and to this day it still hurts.
ADULTS: WAKE THE F*** UP AND QUIT SACRIFICING YOUR CHILDREN SO THAT YOUR GENITALS CAN FEEL GOOD! It's really disgusting, so don't be shocked or surprised when your kids don't respect you, and don't you dare chastise them for objecting to your selfishness. They intuit more about how you're supposed to act than you know.
Posted on: Wednesday, July 24, 2013
I remember watching from an upstairs bedroom window my father walking because my mother had tossed him out of the house. He had no where to go. I put my hand on the glass as a way of feeling that pain of him leaving. My father was sick due to Agent Orange. I was screaming with my heart and running toward him with my brother and sister in tow. But, I had to see him leave.
My mother was an alcoholic. Both of her parents deceased, died of cancer. She was the primary breadwinner; a registered staff nurse at our local hospital. She was raising three small children, claiming to her for every want and need. Her siblings, all halves, didn't do much for her except condemn and ostracize. My mother did things the "right way". She graduated college, married, and had her children to a God-fearing man. Something happened. I don't know what. My father was getting sick. No one knew why. We just had speculation to ease us with why.
My mother divorced my father.
My father lived in a hotel room and when the money became a strain, he lived in a homeless shelter with "druggies", "alcoholics", and frequent "jailbirds". My father witnessed to them and many were saved despite his health and socioeconomic status. My father was educated. A degree in Theology. He spent much of his life in/out of VA hospitals. His faith never wavered. He believed in us. My mother seemed to vanish in her mysteries on TV, her work, and the bottle. We had men come in/out of the house. We saw her get drunk and beat us because we were in the way. We got taken away, too. I was awarded to the court once and stayed from my family for six years. I came home finally when I was fifteen. My father's health staggered but he took care of 3 children all on his own. I was lucky. Very lucky. I had a father that cared. He couldn't shelter us from the world. We were better that he was that light to us; a hope we couldn't find until we all met Jesus.
My mother passed in 2000. My father eventually passed in 2013. I have three children and I am on my second marriage. It isn't the path that I dreamed having at 17 or any other age prior to now. I can say that I am grateful for it all. God has given me strength. He has given me wisdom. God uses ordinary people to His greater purpose. I am lucky. No, I am BLESSED.