***This post has been edited from it's original version***
I have been working on my book and have found so much wisdom in going through different aspects of my life. One big one that I am feeling called to share is the reality of divorce and generational pain. What I am about to share is based on my own life experiences.
(The following paragraph simply paraphrases what the Catechism of the Catholic Church shares with us about this topic. For further reading go here: http://www.vatican.va/…/ccc_…/archive/catechism/p3s2c2a6.htm)
You see, as Christians, when a couple marries they become ONE FLESH. And so when they have children, those children receive their identity from their ONE FLESH. Stay with me here as I explain. You see, inside all of us, at an ontological level is our identity as a created human person and it is born from and relies on those two people who made you. Just like we were created in the image of God, so it goes for our children. They are born in our (mother and father's) image. So imagine what happens at a level so deep within you when those two people separate and divorce from one another. What created you now no longer exists. You see, you got WHO you are from their love, their ONE FLESH. That is how important marriage is. That is why in our vows we say, “For better or worse, till death do us part.” Because the separation of the ONE FLESH then separates the identity of the child at its very core (being).
(Now this is my personal opinion based on my own life experiences and the extensive research done on this topic)
Inside of this child there is now chaos and sadness, turmoil and heartbreak because everything inside of them that told them WHO they are has now been dissolved. Most of these children who feel this way can't even explain why they feel sad or angry, they "just do."
Take a look at the picture, those are images that pop up when you Google children and divorce. Now, before you start to attack me for posting negative about divorce let me share with you that I am not judging anyone in this post and if this post upsets you because you have gone through a divorce (or two or three) then I ask you to ask yourself why the TRUTH of divorce would make you upset?
Personal opinion based on my own experiences---> This needs to be shared far and wide. Families are suffering because of divorce and we are passing on this generational pain because adults are choosing their own needs/happiness over the well being of the child. We need to recover from this divorce epidemic and fast.
My opinion of some solutions for the problem ---> How do we do that? Support marriage! Support couples who are struggling! Unless a person’s life is in danger, reconciliation is what we are called to. We need to celebrate engagements, betrothals and weddings! We need to discourage divorce. If we know someone who is thinking of divorce we need to counsel them in hope that reconciliation can be had.
My personal message to these particular people because of the various conversations I have had recently on this topic ---> If you have willingly (not if you had no choice and your spouse took you to court and forced the divorce) gone through a divorce and are reading this then I want to share something very important.
(If this applies to you and your situation) You may wish to stop expecting your child or children to be happy about your divorce or to understand it. At the core of their being they are not happy about it (and again don't know why) and are adjusting and adopting to the situation the best they know how. At the appropriate time and age, acknowledge that the divorce has torn them apart not just outside but on their inside as well. Let them grieve, let them be angry, let them mourn the loss of the love (ONE FLESH) that created them. Apologize to them. Tell them you did the best you could at the time and didn’t realize how much it would affect them and then let them know that you are there for them in their saddest and most difficult times. Let them know that it is OK to feel terrible about it because it is something that makes a person feel terrible. The key here is to help them to not feel so alone. And if you are a person of faith, instill that in them, share with them the Good News and that with God nothing is impossible. That even after divorce He is capable of healing and restoring all that is broken! (These are the things that are suggested to help children of divorce feel understood and not so alone, that is why I am sharing them.)
No fault divorce has been on the scene now since 1970 and we are seeing the fruits of this decision and the affects it has had on the children. These children are now adults who are speaking out about the pain divorce has caused in their lives. We should let them speak. We should hear their voice. They have stories to tell in the hopes that other marriages can be saved. (There are Private Support groups for Children of Divorce available, email me if you would like more info).
(Something I recently learned and felt called to share.) The point of this post is to help people understand that divorce affects children in so many different ways than just what we see on the outside. Because their inmost being was created by these two people, when those two people split, there is an ontological change. And research shows that there is also a psychological change as well as a physiological change too.
"The study from University College of London found that children who experienced the breakdown in their parent's relationship before the age of 16, regardless of whether their parents were married or not, had 16% higher levels of C-reactive protein at age 44. C-reactive protein is a marker of inflammation measured in blood samples...long term raised C-reactive protein is a known risk factor for diseases such as coronary artery disease and type II diabetes." (McCarthy, Torn Usunder, page 43).
This post is to educate. Why? Because I myself had no idea and the findings are tremendously important to helping future marriages, families and children as well as divorced families. I have had a few conversations about this with divorced friends recently and they have been so grateful to hear it and try and understand it because they knew in their hearts that it is true and they want to help their child in whatever way they can.
It hurts to think that your child may be in pain, but it hurts everyone even more to pretend that it doesn't matter or affect them negatively and that is what we are seeing more and more of in our social norms today.
Once again, I stress, this post is NOT a judgement on you and your own personal situation. I am not a heart reader (that is God's job). After re-reading my initial post I totally agree with the feedback I received that it sounded hopeless and strong. I have done my best to explain myself and the context in which I am writing this and I hope now that those who took offense to the original post will better understand what I am trying to share.
I do recommend the following books/articles on this subject for those who are interested:
Familiaris Consortia, St. John Paul II, number 14
Primal Loss, Leila Miller ISBN#9780997989311
Torn Usunder, Margaret Harper McCarthy ISBN#9780802872050
The Case Against Divorce, Diane Medved, PhD ISBN#0804106339