North Santa Rosa

Living With Purpose

When I first entered the ministry in the early 90s I thought one of the reasons children and teenagers got into trouble was because their parents had divorced. The stats supported my opinion because studies showed almost 50% of children that met with family counselors came from a home other than a two-parent family. After I went through my own divorce, I realized I had been guilty of a prejudice thought pattern toward divorced families. I learned that it wasn’t divorce that was the major cause of kid’s having difficulties; it was the dysfunctional family which ended up divorced. And difficulties were compounded when outsiders would try to get in the fray and try to fix things.
I’ve always advocated for the emphasis to never be placed on children when a husband and wife decide to separate and divorce. I believe there’s an adversarial process in many divorce courts today because children are often the subjects of manipulation used by one or both of the divorcing parents. This can lead to anger, rebellion, hurt, and low self-esteem in the hearts and minds of children and teenagers. This makes it much harder for children to adjust to the divorce, not to mention the effects upon the parents.
Multiple court hearings where children are called to participate chip away at the developing personality of the innocent young ones. Parents and adults should always think of the effects their decisions have on their children. I would never advocate for divorce between two people, unless harm, detriment, or psychological maladjustment was taking place. Every child deserves and needs a parent(s) who can make rational decisions that are in the best interests for them. I believe that children and teenagers suffer minimal emotional and psychological damage when their parents have an amiable, benign, and reasonable divorce. Parents need to quit being selfish and place the needs of the children above their own desires, no matter who may be considered the one at fault. I can also attest that neither party in a divorce is without some responsibility in the failed marriage. This is true simply based on the fact that no one is without flaws. And let it be understood that the children’s pain is magnified several times when their parent’s divorce is bitter, spiteful, sarcastic, hostile and harsh.
Christ emphasized that we should love our enemies (Matthew 5:44). Even though divorcees may no longer be able to live with one another, there should be some form of cooperation when it comes to the mutual children involved. Today’s children are seasoned warriors when it comes to the dysfunctional social patterns of today’s society. In other words, kids are resilient and tough! But they’re still human beings, have a sensitive heart, and need to be shown as much love as possible. Love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8) and is always the healing balm to which can be applied to all our sins, even divorce. Ministering to divorced couples and children is a tremendous responsibility and those who have direct contact to those affected by divorce should in no way stoke the flames of dissention. Love and forgiveness needs to saturate the hearts of everyone involved.
I don’t want to minimize the difficulty children face when their parents’ divorce. The consequences can affect children for many years. Where do the divorced parents sit at the daughter’s wedding? How do the children have a close relationship with grandparents when the parents are continuing to battle and fight one another? And what are the chances that children of divorce will follow the same road as their parents when they get older?
A good divorce is better than a bad marriage. And a respectful parting of the parents is better for the kids than living with parents who continuously fuss, fight, fail, and disrespect one another. Some people can’t live with one another because their personalities are a ring of fire that consumes everything around them. Children living in these situations often experience emotional pain. If parents are able to adjust to their divorce and move on, the chances of the kids adjusting are greatly increased. Many adults are able to be better parents after the divorce and the children benefit from the improved healthy-minded parent.
Divorce can be a traumatic event in a child’s life. The best thing we can do is minimize the emotional and psychological hurt and pain. We accomplish this by practicing God’s love and forgiveness, even in the midst of the fiery trial. “So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world” (1 Peter 1:6-7).
• This weekly column is written by Matthew Dobson. He’s the author of the newly released book: “Soldiers of God: A Bible Study guide for Spiritual Warfare”. Matthew can be reached by email: He welcomes your thoughts concerning faith, belief, and Christian living.

Posted by on Apr 12 2015. Filed under Living With Purpose, Local, Top News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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