Here at YCCA Music, you’re going to learn that it’s not about the music. There’s no music at all. This was simply where I decided to start blogging about all things homeschooling, Mom, and family related. Like this the blog is about war and deployment. Or I might write about bouncy houses and parties because life you know? You’re going to realize it’s a random blog.
It’s music that comes with starting your own business (seriously thank goodness for www.nvbloans.com) while homeschooling and grieving the loss of a brother. It’s the Music of life. It’s the music we walk to everyday while we teach the kids. It’s the music we hear when the house is silent and everyone is asleep. It’s not what we would consider music right now-but it’s my favorite kind.
Some music is fast, some slow. Some are angry, some nice. Today’s music-is a bit of a bang. I’m going to start with a bang. An open letter to those divorced.
An Open Letter to Children and Parents of Divorce
When I was four months old, my Mom and Dad divorced. This isn’t a pity party, and I’m not looking for attention. I’ve long put off writing my thoughts out for fear that it would come across as dramatic. The fact of the matter is, seeing as how I was so young, I never knew better. I never knew life with my parents living under the same roof. I never saw them argue, and I never saw them work it out. I never saw them hug, and I never saw them kiss. I never saw my Mom so mad at my Dad she kicked him to the couch. I never heard the door slam after a heated argument. I never saw them agonize over a tough decision. I wish, though, that I would have and I’m ok saying that now.
I remember being in high school, and my Dad came to pick me up at my Moms house. He needed to use the restroom, so he asked if he could come in. My Mom was in the kitchen cleaning while he used the bathroom. I sat on the stairs, waiting to leave, but dreading the moment. For that three minutes, I pretended they were together, and this was normal. The entire feel of the house changed. Even the air seemed different. I listened to my Mom’s slippers hit the wood floor in the kitchen as she cleaned up after dinner, and heard the water running in the bathroom sink while my Dad washed his hands. It was like a symphony, and it was the most beautiful combinations of sounds I had ever heard. Those sounds and feelings caused a warmth in my heart that to this day, has never been replicated. It was as though time stood still and all was as it should be. For the first time in my life, I realized just how much I was missing out on. I wanted to break down and beg my parents to work whatever happened, out. I wanted to tie myself to something and refuse food until they remarried. I hoped they would look into each other’s eyes and see what they once loved, and realize that divorce was stupid. I wanted that moment to last forever. I wanted that fullness, and feeling of belonging to stay. But I knew all this was foolish, and then the door opened to the bathroom, and in the sense of haste, my Dad ushered me out the door. I yelled goodbye to Mom, got in the car, and we drove off.
I’m 32 years old now, and I still can’t forget that three minutes. And I want you kids to divorce (or even adults whose parents divorced later in life) to know and hear that it’s not foolish to want your Mom and Dad to work things out and be together, and forever. In fact, it’s flat out biblical- marriage is supposed to be for forever, and no man is supposed to separate what God has joined (Mark 10:9). Don’t listen to the world when they tell you it’s selfish to wish for your parents to be together. Don’t let the world crush your innocence, and don’t let them silence you. You, and your God gave desires matter. You should be able to have Mom and Dad together. It’s ok that right now they aren’t together, and you can be totally happy and at peace just like me-but know it’s ok to wonder still, and still go there.
I am now married and have two children of my own. My husband and I fight, as any married couple, and we hurt each other more times then I would like to admit. But we always makeup, we always ask for forgiveness, and we always forgive. Throughout our marriage, I’ve pondered divorce (not doing it, but just…what it is) and all it entails and for the life of me, I can’t figure it out. I hear of marriages falling apart after three years, and after 20 years and it just makes no sense. How in three years do you even have enough time to be so mad that you can’t work it out? Or 20 years, after ALL, those times working it out, why quit now? And even in those situations where there is infidelity, and everyone else says it’s ok, I can’t seem to justify it. There are people that have worked past that and had great love stories. Only in cases of abuse, have I ever understood divorce. So if it doesn’t make sense to you, children, it didn’t and didn’t make sense to me either. I love my parents, and even my step Dad, but you can too and still not understand divorce, and it’s reasoning. It’s ok to live in both worlds at times. It’s ok to question.
My parent’s divorce wasn’t the only one I experienced growing up. My Dad married and remarried a total of five times and he’s still not found the one his soul loves (I’m still holding out for Mom). My Mom remarried two times, finally getting it right with Mike, as you all know my bonus, Dad. I love Mike more then words can convey, and have been nothing but blessed by him. I didn’t have a horrible childhood, so please don’t take this as me saying such. I love my parents. They all worked together, and I was extremely blessed by all three of them. But I’m not going to sugar coat it to avoid sounding dramatic. And kids, you shouldn’t either. It’s hard. It was hard. It IS hard. It doesn’t get any easier the older you get. In fact, as you get married kids- and have your children, it gets harder. And by harder, I don’t mean hurtful- by this point you are happy and have accepted things as they are- which is great! But by harder I mean annoying, difficult, you have so many families to juggle now- you have more grandparents then is normal, and you aren’t sure who to call what. I constantly worry that it might hurt my Dads feelings if my son calls my step Dad Grandpa. But he’s grandpa too!! What do you do? Where do you go for Christmas? Or better yet, WHO do you spend it with and whose feelings will it hurt? If you, like me, have adopted the old fashioned biblical principles of marriage, then you must consider what kind of message it’s going to send to your children as well. You agonize over what to tell your children about divorce without effecting their love for their grandparents, or respect. But, how can you respect someone that has so little regard for Gods design for marriage and family? How do you show respect, despite how you feel? How do you teach this to your children, but still teach that divorce is wrong and never right? Kids of divorce (adults too)- if you’ve agonized over all these things you’re not alone. It’s not right, and it shouldn’t be this way. I know you feel like you can’t say these things because you feel selfish so I’m saying for you, and for me- for us. It’s time people heard from the children of divorce. It’s time people heard how we feel.
Parents- this one is for you. I say all of this to give you what, with all this unwanted experience, has taught me. What I’ve learned, and experienced as a child from the dreaded, “broken home.” I’ve come to realize that I have right to speak on this topic. I’ve also just finished reading a fascinating book on the effects of divorce from a psychologist. In the book, “The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce” Judith S. Wallerstein followed kids from families that experienced divorce from the time of the divorce, all the way through the children’s adult life- even into their marriage. So for decades, literally, Wallerstein watched how divorce effected children who eventually would grow up, and she wrote everything down. One patient, Sarah, sparked Judith’s curiosity. For all of Sarah’s life, she struggled in relationships. Sarah struggled with confidence. Sarah just struggled. I felt as though Sarah could have been me. Average grades, no real motivation, having to grow up a bit too fast (but not really “growing up”). Never having time to figure yourself out because you were so consumed with family issues. I could go on and on. For whatever reason, Judith wondered what the difference would be in an adult that was Sarah’s age, and even grew up in the same neighborhood, but had parents that stayed together. So Judith found “kids” that Sarah grew up with and began her decade upon decade-long study. She interviewed adults from the same neighborhood, same social background, same school, same everything and asked about their childhood. She wondered how their parent’s marriages were, what their childhood was like, etc, etc. What Judith realized was shocking….to her. As I read her discoveries I, however, wasn’t at all surprised. What I long experienced and suspected were what she found to be true.
There are far too many discoveries to write about (you can read the entire book for that, and I highly recommend it) but one, in particular, stood out to me. The parents that had rough marriages and “stayed together for the kids” did it right. Why you ask? Because it worked. In all her patients, in all her cases, Judith came to realize that the biggest reason for divorce, the “for the kids” one, is the biggest lie. Rarely, after divorce does the fighting stop. In a study of Judith’s and her peers, they found that “a third of the couples were fighting at the same high pitch ten years after their divorce was final…The notion that divorce ends the intense love/hate relationship of the marriage is another myth of our times.” (The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce, 45). Did you read that? Divorce doesn’t stop the fighting! What’s even more tragic, is the children who lived in the home during the battle, and the children with whom they are divorcing for, are typically blindsided by the divorce. What that implies is they were much more secure then the parents had thought. Which also means nobody talked to their kids to see how they were coping. How terribly sad. Fighting and arguing were just how it was, but divorce never crossed these kids’ minds. Not only that, but the kids that had parents that stayed together (despite rough times) were much more stable and had much better lives as they entered into adulthood. When asked about their childhood, kids that had parents that stuck it out had nothing but great memories. One patient, James- remembers playing all day outside with his friends on his bike, hating coming in for dinner, a tree house they made, and the candy store down the road. When Judith asked James about his parent’s marriage, he got quiet and replayed many arguments they had. At one point, as a teenager, James even asked his Dad if they were divorcing. His Dad said no, never. James’ ability to love, and grow was much stronger then Sarah’s. And the biggest difference in their lives was James’ parents stayed married for the kids, and Sarah’s divorced- for the kids.
Divorce- with all it’s covert reasons, is selfish (unless abuse is involved, that’s a different ball game right there). No matter how you word it, or what reason you give it- it’s selfish. Divorce is selfish. You made a promise to God and your spouse, and by default to your kids. Keep your word, no matter how hard it is. It’s worth it. I know you’re suffering. I can say that, now that I’m married and-and we’ve had our struggles. I’m sorry you’re hurting. I get the temptation to just quit and leave, especially in a world that makes it so easy to move. But you can get through it and you should, God wants you to, and your kids need you to. And reject the lie that you should leave if you’re not happy. So many assume God wants you happy, even if it means divorce and nobody will tell you that no- He does not want you happy if it means lying to Him, and the ones you promised to be with forever. God wants you obedient and to sacrifice for your spouse and Him. Marriage has NOTHING to do with happiness, honestly. It might be very hard, and lonely, and hurtful- but what do you think Jesus experienced on the cross? And isn’t marriage suppose to represent Jesus and the church? What if Jesus just decided the cross was too much, got up, and walked off because the image of his death was too great for us kids? That doesn’t add up. Us kids, we need to hear you and Dad fighting. We need to see Mom and Dad kiss and makeup. We need to see the valleys that last forever where the despair is too great, and then the peaks when you made it through. Just like we need Jesus on the cross. Us kids, us adults who were kids- we need Mom and Dad together. We need Mom and Dad old and farting in the pews of the church. Just because kids are resilient and we always do OK, doesn’t mean we always will be. I’ve learned, no matter how many goodbyes I said to people I thought would be there forever, I always had more room for love. Don’t take advantage of that parents. Guard your children’s hearts. Protect their innocent love. Don’t use it. Show them, by example, how to cultivate it and deepen it and honor it and truly share it. And re-read what I just told you it was really like. As a child of divorce, I have some clout. Is that the legacy you want to leave?
Churches- what’s up with the divorce care for the spouses, but nothing for the kids? Why is nobody listening to the kids? Why do you even have divorce care? What about family care? What about telling people divorce is not ok and not better for the kids? How do you justify remarrying our Dads and Moms but refuse gay and lesbian marriage because it desecrates marriage? Where is the truth?
So there. There is my un-edited version of what divorce is really about. I love my parents, and forgive them and always have. I have great relationships with all three of my parents, and I love them tremendously. But like marriage, and raising kids does, I think back on my upbringing, and I’m left to make sense of it- again. You parents need to know that it stays with the kids. You need to see me, 32, still processing- even in my beautiful, joyous life.
So with all of that, we kids are now left to leave a legacy of marriage for our children, not divorce. We fight with our spouses (and mentally call the lawyer everytime), we argue in front of the kids, but we kiss and makeup in front of the kids because we understand how crucial that is. The kids see us mad at each other, and they see us so in love it’s likely stomach turning. We are not perfect, and we know we will damage the kids in some way- but divorce will not be it. The best gift we can give them is constant love for their Mom or Dad even if they don’t deserve it. What better way to show the true love of Christ to our kids, in a tangible way? We want to teach our children that we choose to love our spouse, even when they don’t deserve it. For my children, and my grandkids, and my great-grandkids….I’m going to love my husband, even when I don’t want to. That is the legacy I want to leave.
And if you’re in the decision spot, to divorce or not to- don’t. Don’t divorce, and do THAT for your kids. Make it work. Give your children the gift of family, and their parents together.