I could have written something very much like what appears below. I offer it here since I think it’s important for us kids of divorce to know that our situations are not unique to us:
Ridiculous: deserving derision or mockery. Absurd.
Making kids live in “two homes” is absurd. It deserves derision and mockery. Whenever I criticize “two homes” for kids of divorce, most of the time I will put it scare quotes. This is to communicate to the reader that I think it’s ridiculous.
If you don’t think making kids live in “two homes” is ridiculous, consider working through the following thought experiment.
Would you ever choose to live in two homes for an extended period of time…for example, one year? This is equivalent to your youngest child being 17 when you split with your spouse and living in two homes until age 18. How about ten years? This is equivalent to your youngest child being 8 when you split up and living in two homes until age 18.
Let’s say you want a divorce. You have children, and you own a home with your spouse. The judge tells you to locate an apartment within a one mile radius of the family home. He says that you each have to take turns living there. This arrangement allows your children to stay in the family home without having their daily lives constantly interrupted. It also ensures that you don’t have to deal with your spouse on a daily basis. One parent lives in the apartment while the other parent lives in the family home with the children. You switch back and forth like this with your ex, every week until your youngest child has finished high school. And let’s say your youngest child was 8 when you separated from your spouse. So that’s ten years of living in two homes.
Yea or nay?
That was one mile away. Now imagine living in two homes for ten years when the judge orders the apartment to be in:
- a neighboring city.
- a neighboring county.
- a neighboring state.
- across the country.
What do you think? Does the prospect of living in two homes sound appealing?
No? Well…. um… I’m sorry but you don’t have a choice. We’re going to do this whether you agree or not.
Look, I found a book to help. The lady who wrote it never had to live in two homes herself, but it has excellent reviews by lots of children who swear their parents loved it. Two homes, two bedrooms, two beds, two sets of sheets, two comforter sets, two pillows, two sets of towels, two toothbrushes, two sets of prescriptions, two Christmases, two birthdays… it’s double of everything! What’s not to love?
Don’t be sad. You’re resilient. You’ll turn out OK. You’ll get through it. Don’t you care about your child’s happiness? Maybe you should to go to a shrink for therapy and medication. That will help. And if it doesn’t, then I guess there really is something wrong with you.
See also: Thank you, adoptee community
So yea, I’m divorced too. My crazy childhood propelled me into a religious cult where I had an arranged marriage. You might wonder why anybody would submit to that. Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time. I was not forced into it, but there was a lot of manipulation. Plus I was longing for stability and to have a family, a real family where I was a full fledged member. So the cult was my attempt at filling that longing, at initiating myself into my own life.
Even though the cult was destructive in many ways, God still blessed me with a beautiful family. And I was super proud of that family, even though the marriage was doomed from the start. It was a three-way relationship: me, my husband, and the cult. There were only two names on the marriage license, but there was an implicit understanding that the cult was a 100% integral part of that relationship. It was like a wedge between us, a wedge that we believed would be like glue to keep us together, but it actually kept us separated from each other.
I went into it thinking that my husband would change, that he’d see the value of me and our family apart from the cult. But he never did. So I hung on for a long time, hoping and praying for a change. I am embarrassed to admit that after about 7 years of feeling neglected, I had more than one emotional affair, plus I got physically involved with the cult leader. This same leader actually had at least four affairs with various women, and that’s what I know of with 100% certainty.
I discovered five ways that the adoptee community helped me understand my own situation better. Here is another way they have helped me.
They have addressed, head-on, the concept of the “angry adoptee.” They don’t side step it, they don’t pathologize it. They own it and place it into the wider context of profound loss of their first families.
Many people don’t like this. It is far easier to write off the angry adoptee as having a mental disturbance. Some people refuse to confront the cultural narrative that “adoption is always beautiful.” We have unwittingly embraced a false idea to prop up that cultural narrative. Let me use an analogy to explain.
Yesterday I wrote post where I tried to argue two things:
- that we can’t trust lawyers to give marriage advice. They have an incentive to keep their sales funnel full of prospective families.
- that if, in the back of your mind, you’re justifying your divorce because of abuse or violence, it better really be abusive or violent. Otherwise, you’re making a hypocritical statement when you send your children there post-divorce.
I always try to write clearly, and most of the time I think I do a good job but last night’s post was a struggle. I don’t think I made the latter argument as clearly as I could have. It was late and I was tired.
So this morning, imagine my delight when I read a post over at Mary’s Advocates where they have a section on making distinctions. As I read it, I thought, “YES! This is exactly what I was trying to say last night.” So here it is:
We can also say, “If she’s no good for you, she’s no good for your kids.”
Always be suspicious when divorce attorneys say divorce is OK. Divorce is very lucrative for them so they have an incentive to keep the sales funnel full of potentially broken families.
This post at at HuffPost Divorce, by a former divorce attorney, actually started out OK. She was making the very reasonable claim that people shouldn’t stay in violent or abusive marriages. She states clearly that “divorce is hard for kids,” and she also clearly states that research backs up this claim. I could quibble with some of her other characterizations, but I won’t.
Instead, I want to point out the logical inconsistency. Continue reading “If he’s no good for you, he’s no good for your kids”
I am working on a theory that divorce is a manifestation of immaturity.
Divorce pushes a heavy burden down to the children. I’ve heard it said that:
Divorce is when parents cast of their crosses, and hand them to their children.
If the children live in “two homes,” this means that one or both parents thought the other one was too horrible to live with any longer… but not horrible enough to keep the children from going there. It sends a conflicting message: Continue reading “Divorce as immaturity”
One of the things that has held me back from expressing my real feelings is the Biblical commandment to “honor your father and your mother.” (Exodus 20:12) Notice that there aren’t any qualifiers to the commandment, such as: “Honor them as long as you approve of their actions.” Lacking qualifiers, I take this to mean that we have to do it regardless of what our parents do.
So the question has lingered in the back of my mind: how do I honor them when they have mishandled things so badly? I’ve written some things here that might seem like I’m dishonoring them. My dad died in 1991, but I worry about what my mom would think if she read these posts. I need to express what it was like for me growing up, and my worry about hurting her feelings has forced me to remain silent for many years. I’ve had to pretend that so many things did not matter to me, in order to preserve my relationship with them. I was angry and sad a lot but didn’t understand why. It’s ironic that in order to honor them, I felt the need to pretend and hide. That tells me that I wasn’t really honoring them all these years. After all, the pretense was a type of lie. And I know that God doesn’t want me to lie. Continue reading “Honor your father and your mother”
It is super frustrating when prominent conservative leaders and groups hold up the kids of gays to argue against gay marriage as another form of family breakdown, but completely and utterly ignore the kids of divorce. I could provide examples but I’m afraid to. I don’t want to alienate them. Plus I hope that someday they will realize, on their own, the logical gap they have in their arguments. Taken from the point of view of the child, gay marriage is more like divorce/remarriage than it is like marriage. Why can’t conservatives see this?
And just so I’m perfectly clear: I am not pitting the the kids of gays against the kids of divorce–Lord knows, both groups need all the allies they can get. Plus I am friends with a prominent person in the other group. But I must be honest about how I feel and the gap I see.
I won’t provide citations, but it will be easy enough for you to verify what I’m saying.
I want to explore some of the presuppositions undergirding the question, “Aren’t you glad you weren’t aborted.” That question contains these messages, and probably others: