Affirming first families

When I see somebody whose parents are divorced (or never married) and they claim everything is OK, I am highly skeptical for a number of reasons:

1) They have strong incentives to say this, and no incentives to say anything else.

2) Their relationship with their parents is tenuous, so they can’t rock the boat.

3) Our culture harshly criticizes apparently healthy people who can’t pick themselves up by their bootstraps and move on from whatever hardship they encounter. “You don’t like that your parents are divorced? Too bad. Get over it or you’re ostracized.”

4) Related to this is how people will ascribe that pain to a treatable mental illness, rather than an ongoing painful circumstance that could have been handled differently with the right help and knowledge. If they think it is a mental illness, they will criticize the person for not seeking treatment. If they seek treatment and don’t get healed, then they didn’t try hard enough, or maybe it’s genetic (yes, I’ve had all of these said to me in recent years). In no way can the circumstance be to blame–freedom to do as one pleases trumps all. It is as if they believe that our knowledge of the human psyche is absolute, which means everything is fixable.

5) We are a highly individualized culture and we value adults having freedom more than anything else, particularly sexual freedom. If a child spends his childhood feeling alone because the adults are exercising their freedom, that is the price that must be paid.

6) We start with the triad, yet too many Christians have abandoned it in favor of flawed theoretical models such as “blended family.” But we are Trinitarians, which means we believe in the community of three distinct persons of the Godhead, yet who are one. How many of us actively affirm everybody’s first families?  If we look around, I think we would have to be honest and say that we have not done a good job there. We have too often abandoned the Trinitarian theoretical model that God wrote into our bodies, in favor of creating “choices” and “freedom” for adults. Sometimes it will be extremely difficult to affirm that community of three persons (father/mother/child) for certain individuals, but I believe it must be done as a matter of justice for that person. Consider that any difficulty in affirming somebody’s first family might be one consequence of our idea of “freedom.” In other words, we might have to revise our view of freedom in order to affirm first families.

holy family


Author: everybodysdaughter

I'm an adult child of divorce, having been raised in multiple divorce/remarriage situations. I originally started writing here to shed light on the problems of divorce from the perspective of the child. I gradually started writing about the Catholic faith, and the blog probably is more of that at this point. However, there is overlap between the two, since the "shape" of the family is a triangle, which is a reflection of the Holy Family and the Holy Trinity.

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