Child of divorce testimonial: Anthem of the divorce kids

… You put on the facade of “it’s ok I get 2 Christmases and 2 bedrooms! And if you’re mad at one you can go to the other!” Ok cool but you don’t tell people that slowly but surely you feel abandonment or suffocated all the time or that you have to hear one parent trash talk the other and vice versa or that suddenly you can’t worry about math and kissing boys because all you’ve learned is how to try and block out the screaming and try and mediate.

You don’t tell people you’re constantly torn between two halves and always feel inadequate because you can’t make one happy without hurting the other. Or that you’re life is constantly being shuffled around like a possession caught in the divorce settlement. You don’t tell people that you have heard both your parents cry and tell you they wish they could do better or that you get guilty for getting angry or feeling anything that could burden them.

You don’t tell people that the holidays aren’t fun anymore because you’re constantly switching back and forth and all you can count on is being in the argument on whether dad can pick you up on Christmas Day at 11am or noon…

…Then you’re trying to have relationships and every time someone gets close you push them away before they can leave and break your heart. “I have to be sure, he’s gotta be THE one. We have to do this right” and suddenly you’re this control freak who compartmentalizes friends, work, relationships because that’s what you did with Mom and Dad and it’s the only way you know how to survive…

Read the whole thing here:

https://wabisabiautobiography.wordpress.com/2016/06/12/anthem-of-the-divorce-kids/

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Freedom and fertility

For a long time now I have wanted to elaborate on why I believe the unpredictable and spontaneous fertility between opposite-sex couples is a facet of freedom. My thoughts are not well developed. But I thought that by writing them down, it might help me develop them further.

I see a spectrum in regards to fertility. The spectrum goes from what I call Control, to Marriage, to Chaos.

egg is holding by a pipet and a neeldle

Control

Highly controlled and mechanized fertility amounts to a demand, a command, for somebody else to be conceived. The person doing the demanding, the commanding, has more freedom. After all, they are freed from the constraints of marriage, and can will another person into existence. But this level of control comes at the expense of the one being conceived. They are not conceived in freedom, they are conceived by the demand of another. Often money is part of their conception. Some are calling it slavery. I share this sentiment.

Chaos

If we swing to the other end of the spectrum, we arrive at uncontrolled fertility. This is chaos. For example, conception in rape or children in poor communities without fathers. We acknowledge the full humanity and dignity of anybody conceived in any manner, but we must also acknowledge that not all forms of conception should be dignified. Some lead to much sorrow, confusion, and violence.

Control and chaos are both seen as ways for people to exercise ever-increasing amounts of freedom. But it’s a trade: both seem more free than the restraints imposed by marriage, but those children are less free than their parents. The net result is that freedom decreases throughout the culture.

Marriage

I see a middle ground between Control and Chaos. It is called marriage, where new lives spring up spontaneously, as the result of two people expressing their love for one another. They are conceived in love, without a demand to exist, without ever being rejected, connected to both halves of who they are. They are a gift, a free gift. Free as in, conceived without the demand to be conceived, without the perpetual burden of a fractured family.

When humans spontaneously emerge from the love inside marriage, that is something that is never directly controlled, nor is it chaotic since their ontological wholeness is respected and reflected in the one-flesh union of the father and the mother. This spontaneity is a feature of human freedom, not a bug. The one-flesh union of a man and a woman is the middle ground that respects the freedom of the next generation. It seems to me that people conceived and raised like that are the freest of us all.

What I love about Protestants and Evangelicals

Even though I am Catholic and proud to be Catholic, at times I have fallen into Catholic triumphalism, which is not a good thing.

I admit to feeling a certain amount of frustration with Protestants/Evangelicals at times. I could list the reasons for it but won’t since the frustration is not justified. I’ll just say that I have handled it with varying degrees of success. For example, I recently had a conversation with my mother (an Evangelical) about the difference between Catholic and Protestant, and was happy with myself for how I handled it. But there were times in the past where I engaged online with Evangelicals and other Protestants, and I was not nearly as charitable as I should have been. I regret those times.

However, when I see how sincere they are in their faith, it touches me. As a Catholic I know they are Christians by virtue of our common baptism, our common Christology, and other doctrines we share such as the Trinity. In addition to those things, here are a few other things I think they have right. These are just off the top of my head. There are probably others:

  • They are on fire for the Lord.
  • They are not afraid to evangelize the world.
  • They respect and know the Bible.
  • I love their heartfelt prayers, such as the Sinner’s Prayer.
  • They are patriotic.
  • They stand for unborn human life and God’s definition of marriage.
  • The Protestant work ethic is real, and good.
  • I love the worship music they create, such as this song:

It is worth noting here that I was baptized in middle school at the local Presbyterian church, after going through their catechetical program. And was not re-baptized when I entered the Catholic Church in 2012. As I was preparing to enter the Church, this really made a positive impression on me, since my baptism was personally very meaningful for me as a Christian.

I realize that there are gradations and distinctions among Protestants and Evangelicals, so I don’t mean to be saying that they are all the same. I also don’t want to give the impression that I am advocating indifferentism. I just thought it would be good to write something sincere and good about them so that any reading my blog can understand my heart a little better. It seems like there is a fine line between acknowledging the important areas where we agree while not advocating that our differences are irrelevant. I am still figuring how to walk that line.

In the mean time, I hope you enjoy these great worship songs created by Protestants:

Divorce fallout: new step-parents might hate your child

If you have children and you’re thinking about divorce I recommend reading some forums dedicated to step-parents. You won’t believe the amount of bitching and name calling step-parents level against their step-children. Since I’m a former step-child, I find these things extremely offensive. Nobody seems to ask, “Maybe the divorce and remarriage are causing at least SOME of these issues.” Nope, it’s always the kids and the other parent.

Here are a few gems I pulled from a site called StepTalk.org:

I couldn’t be more “disconnected” from that slob if I tried! I despise him and his existence in general and I hate that he is even apart of our lives. I wouldn’t lose sleep or shed a tear if he never darkened our doorstep again…nothing would make me happier than skid permanently leaving our lives with ZERO contact ever again. *sigh* dare to dream…

I’m totally disconnected from my step kids. Always have been. Even when they lived in my home and I was helping in raising them. We never communicated directly.

I don’t allow Skidmark to call me “mother” or any other version of that title. Only my real children call me that and rightly so. The jerk already has a “mother.” He only ever calls me that when he is trying to steal my attention from my real kids or manipulate me into spending money on him. LOL

If you divorce, you will have no control over the kind of person your ex marries (or cohabitates with). This sort of thing might go on about your child.

There are a number of these kinds of sites. I recommend reading them to see what people are saying about their step-kids. This will give you some information about what life might be like for your child should you choose to divorce. Here is a google search for them:

Google search for “step parent forum”

Child of divorce testimonial: Then it hit me

A part of me always thought that maybe over time my parents would get back together.

Which became a shattered dream the moment my mom started dating.

But the divorce never really hit me properly you know.

No one ever properly told me they split. Not my own family. Not anyone. I had to just figure it out myself as everyone tried to shelter me with lies like “we’re only just living apart for work”, “they still love each other” etc.

So I dreamt. So I hoped… that maybe everything was false. I clung to that one false hope that maybe they hadn’t actually properly split. My mind told me “no. what’s done is done” but I still wished.

The moment when it actually and truly hit me was when I moved to Korea for a year.
Until then maybe I was mentally in denial. But it hit me like concrete. We moved in with my mom’s then-boyfriend-but-now-ex and she told me I had to call him dad.

The moment she said that, I could literally feel a sharp stab to my heart (and I still feel it now to be honest)…

Read the whole thing here: Then it hit me

#ErasingFamily: how to avoid being erased

Yesterday I lauded the #ErasingFamily movement. I’m so happy they are calling attention to our corrupt divorce system. I also discussed how we got to the place where a movement such as #ErasingFamily even needs to exist.

Today I want to talk about how to avoid being erased from your child’s life.

The family court system is so corrupt that the best way to stay out of it is prevention.

Prevention means: avoiding a situation where it can be possible to be erased from your child’s life. How to do this?

Start by practicing Christian sexual ethics. Since even contracepted sex can make a baby, don’t engage in baby making activities (sex) until married.

Choose your spouse wisely–don’t rush. Choose somebody who you can talk to about this risk, who agrees that it is wrong. There are lots of places that discuss spouse selection so I won’t go into those details.

Then have children inside marriage, stay married, and raise your children together.

Learn how to be married, how to be a marriage partner. It is more than being a good person. Unfortunately lots of good people end up divorced. If you chose an ethical person, they won’t later drag you through the court system and try to erase you from your kid’s life.

If you’re engaging in sex outside of marriage, you are rolling the dice on your future and your potential child’s future. You are risking creating a child with somebody who won’t be a good parent or a good marriage partner. Don’t do that to yourself or your child.

If you are already facing being erased, I am not sure what to say. My ex has spent a lot of energy bad mouthing me over the years, and it continues into the present time. It definitely had an impact on my relationship with my kids, especially my son. But they are older now, and wiser. They have made their own decisions regarding his negative statements about me, and our relationships are growing again. It takes time. Be patient. Do whatever you can to stay in contact with your child, even if it’s not reciprocated. And don’t bad mouth the other parent, no matter how tempting it is. Take the high road. It will pay off. I am 100% comfortable with how I conducted myself during and after the divorce in regards to how I treated my ex and my kids relationship with him even though it cost me in more ways than one. My conscience is clear, and I recommend you do the same.

If I had known about the #ErasingFamily movement 5-6 years ago, in my pain and frustration I may have participated in it by posting a photo of myself on social media holding a sign that said #ErasedMom. However, looking back I am not sure what this would have done to my relationship with the kids. I can see how it might have made it worse at least in the short term. It is a personal decision that each person has to weigh. But if things are really bad,  I can see how it might put pressure on the guilty party to stop being a jerk. I wonder if any of the people who participated in it have improved relations with their kids. I hope they do.

#ErasingFamily: how did we get here?

erasing familyI love the work being done by #ErasingFamily. They are calling attention to how the judicial system perpetuates injustice by alienating parents from their children during divorce proceedings. This is truly a great mission. I hate our divorce system in the United States. It is a unilateral, involuntary system that drags legally innocent people into an often years-long emotional morass that costs them their children and their assets. It is a monster that needs to be destroyed. There can be no justice in unilateral, involuntary divorce.

So I love #ErasingFamily for calling attention to our corrupt divorce system.

But I also want to step back and consider how we got here. How did we get to the place where an phenomenon like #ErasingFamily even needs to exist?

I believe there are three cultural shifts that contributed to the #ErasingFamily movement.

First, it began in an unlikely place: when we reframed adoption. Adoption used to be a child welfare measure of final resort. And that is how most people still view it. But it has morphed into something more than that. Not always, but often enough, it is a system that finds children for people who want to be parents. The focus shifts from what the child needs to what the adults want.

By reframing adoption, we legitimized chopping down a child’s family tree for the sake of the desires of the new custodial parents. We told adoptees that they shouldn’t care about where they came from. We suppressed their birth records. We failed to address their root issues during therapy sessions. We ignored the social science that tells us their elevated risk for suicide. We failed to try and keep the family together.

So you can see how erasing family began.

Once it was socially acceptable, even lauded, to erase a child’s entire family to fulfill the wishes of adoptive parents, the logic follows like this:

  • it is then acceptable to split the child’s family in half (divorce, two homes) due to the parent’s wishes.
  • it is then acceptable to erase 1/2 of the child’s family (#ErasingFamily, anonymous sperm/egg donation) due to the parents’ wishes.

Second, we changed divorce laws. It used to be that courts sided with the innocent spouse. Now they side with the spouse who wants the marriage the least. Legal innocence or or legal guilt does not play a role in how divorce courts operate. This system favors the person who is most ruthless.

Third, we started to believe that adults are entitled to do pretty much whatever they want sexually. This frees them from any responsibility towards their child’s opposite sex parent, which means that they are entitled to ignore half of who the child is. Look at the photo above and compare it to this video. The logic plays out perfectly even though the sexual preference of the parents is different.

It used to be that sex and family went together as a package deal, but not anymore.

So this is the recipe for the #ErasingFamily brew in which we find ourselves today.

Tomorrow I’ll talk about how people can avoid being erased from their child’s life.

Child of divorce testimonial: I hate divorce

I hate the splintering of two lives resulting in the children having to clean up the aftermath. I hate being a daughter of a broken marriage. I hate having trust issues and fear when it comes to romantic relationships. I hate that I desire so much security to come from a man.

I hate it because I wish I didn’t desire it.

I hate that I have lack.

Read more here: I hate divorce

Expand social justice to include children’s family trees

Social justice typically has to do with promoting equality under the law, and equal access to resources (such as education and healthcare).

archimedesHowever, these advocates don’t seem to realize that by embracing sexual and reproductive liberty, they have inadvertently fostered inequality for the children who are created as a result of those choices. In embracing sexual and reproductive freedom, the older generation uses technology and ideals like a fulcrum to lever the younger generation, their children, in a way that suits them even though it violates the child’s ontology. This is often not what their parents did to them. Some examples:

None of these are what is best for the kids. They are all manifestations of the older generation taking advantage of the power imbalance between them and the younger generation.

Sexual and reproductive liberty is a “might makes right” philosophy.

 

Abortion is the most obvious example of how this plays out. Sex makes babies, and having even contracepted sex is a dice roll. There is no such thing as a guarantee for pregnancy-free coitus.

This means that when people roll the dice and turn up pregnant, that doesn’t give them a right to an abortion. They engaged in an activity that had no assurance of being 100% pregnancy free. If they then destroy that life, they have used technology and ideals to take advantage of the power imbalance. The have participated in “might makes right.”

But there are other inequalities as well, stemming from the “might makes right” thinking fostered by sexual and reproductive liberty.

We see a tremendous and growing amount of inequality in children’s family structures, and in the respect shown to children’s family trees. If you are lucky enough to know where you come from, and to have an intact ontological understanding of yourself, it is probably not due to your parents engaging in sexual and reproductive liberty. It was probably due to them staying together and making sacrifices. I don’t find it coincidental that kids raised with their own married parents fare better, on the aggregate, than kids raised any other way.

Sometimes an inequality can happen due to unforeseen circumstances, a parent dying, for example. If this happens, we all understand it that pain. There is lots of emotional support for those kids. For example, there are lots of sympathy cards available for people who have lost a mother or father due to death.

sympathy card loss of your mother
This card was designed for somebody whose mom died. It was not designed for kids with two gay dads.

But when a child’s family tree is severed or split due to somebody exercising sexual or reproductive liberty, there is zero cultural support for those kids. They’re supposed to stop feeling sorry for themselves, care more for their parents’ happiness than their own, get over it, and just, somehow, get on with their lives as if nothing is wrong. I believe that this teaches them to lie and be codependent. They have to ignore how they feel in order to make their parents happy.

i wish i had a dad

I would like to see the social justice community defend children’s family structures, their family trees founded on natural marriage, and therefore their ontological understanding of themselves. It would mean that they would have to stop supporting sexual and reproductive liberty. But I think it would be a good trade since they have inadvertently embraced a “might makes right” way of dealing with the younger generation. The pro-life movement is a youth movement for all the reasons I’m outlining here. Abortion supporters did not predict this after Roe v. Wade. Shouldn’t social justice advocates acknowledge this and incorporate the zeal and energy of the youth into their advocacy?

As I have argued before, Christian sexual ethics is better than any of the alternatives in this regard. I cannot go along with the injustice of chopping down or dismembering a child’s family tree for the sole purpose of making adults feel comfortable, happy, or fulfilled.

Image citation: Salak, Janna. With Deepest Sympathy. Jackson: 3dRose LLC, n.d. Amazon.com. 3dRose. Web. 28 May 2016.

 

I used to be pro-contraception

 

Birth control word cloud

For most of my life I was pro-contraception. During my time on AOL (pre-internet, c. 1998?), I had online discussions about it, with those who held that contraception was wrong. These people were fellow homeschoolers who were Quiverfull Evangelicals. Their argument was that as Christians, we needed to trust God for the number of children we should have.

My argument was that God gave us a brain and we had an obligation to use it. Thus, if our circumstance warranted it, we were free to use contraception, perhaps we were even required to use it. Not using it in a circumstance that warranted it seemed naive to me, almost like resorting ONLY to prayer instead of going to a doctor when really sick.

Plus, I looked around at the Quiverfull women I actually knew. There were several of them in the homeschooling group we were part of. I loved these women but to be honest they all seemed dejected, overworked and burdened. I took this as evidence that their “trust God” argument was not valid. And of course, my husband and I were contracepting.

Years later I learned about the Catholic teaching on contraception and it really spoke to my heart. It spun me around in a major way.

The Catholic view is different than the Quiverfull view, at least as it was presented to me back at that time on AOL.

The Catholic view is not founded on an admonition to trust God. Certainly trusting God comes into play. But the Catholic view is, first and foremost, an appeal to the beauty and fidelity of what God said in the Bible about the two becoming one flesh in verses like these:

As Christians, I’m sure we can all agree that God wants men and women to become one flesh inside marriage. 

union of two setsUnfortunately, our culture has embraced an untrue idea, and it has crept into many or even most marriages: we withhold a part of ourselves from our spouse, but we believe this does not impact our “one flesh” union. And what do we withhold? Our fertility. 

When we hold back even a small part of ourselves, are the two one? If so, how?

In math, union means all. It doesn’t mean some. It doesn’t mean most. The union of two sets means all of the elements of both sets. If one element of one set is missing, it is not a union.

sperm and eggIn biology, when a sperm unites with an egg, the two individual cells become one cell. They are not somehow still two cells in a mysterious way.

And then there’s God: we know God doesn’t hold back part of Himself from us. And certainly Christ doesn’t hold back part of Himself from the Church.

It looks to me now that contraception mars the beauty of the “one-flesh” teaching. It is like a small wedge between the husband and wife.

I still remember the moment all of these pieces dropped into place. I saw how the Catholics were the only Christians maintaining complete fidelity to the “one-flesh” Scriptures. They were correct regarding the very cornerstone of human life. It is so foundational to marriage, the family, sex and children. And I thought to myself, “Wow, I want that.” The moment I saw that that the Catholics were correct on this point, I began to wonder what else they might be correct about.

And that is the story of how I went from being pro-contraception to embracing the Catholic teaching on it. I was first persuaded by its beauty and fidelity to Scripture, then went on to learn more.

I feel a little insecure about posting this, since there may be some gaps that I need to fill in. Plus I realize it is not the most robust description of the Church’s teaching you can find. It’s just how things worked for me at the beginning of my journey into the Church.

If anybody is interested in learning more about the difference between the Catholic view and the Quiverfull view, here are two links that discuss it in more detail:

Image citations:

The Union of Two Sets. Digital image. Wikipedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 May 2016.

Rivas, Anthony. Sperm and Egg. Digital image. Medical Daily. N.p., 04 Apr. 2014. Web. 27 May 2016.