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Wednesday, May 4, 2016
You Didn't Fail
I MESSED UP!!
Divorce is filled with a plethora of emotions, assailing the divorcing person in random and sometimes overwhelming ways.
One of those emotions is the feeling of failure, and hours can be spent rethinking all the possible things that, if only done differently, MIGHT have made all the difference in saving the marriage. That struggle is one that is easily understood and certainly to be expected, whether the conclusions are true or not.
An emotional struggle that is less obvious is the concern about messing up during the process of divorce as one makes decision after decision that affects the lives of one’s children. Perhaps each decision is made with great consideration, trying to predict how the decision will impact the children. Sometimes, a divorcing parent is either so desperate or, sometimes, so self-centered, that he or she only thinks of self-preservation and self-gratification with no thought given to the impact on the children. Regardless of which way a parent goes through divorce, there surfaces at some point a fear that somehow, I will have done something that has screwed up my children for life; I messed up!
For years people used to say that children are resilient and bounce back and so on. Several years ago, that claim was debunked and it was discovered that children of divorce are more likely to end up in divorce and have other significant problems later in life.
A divorce DOES impact children, no matter what age they are when it occurs. And no matter how careful one is in making decisions in the best interest of the children, none of us is perfect, sometime, somehow we will each mess up something.
Some would quickly point out that the best decision is for the parents to stay together and provide that stable home for the child. In many cases, that may well be true…but I believe it is true only if the home is indeed stable. It is not helpful for children to grow up in a home where one parent is regularly beaten or berated by the other. It is not healthy for a child to grow up in a home where each evening that child waits in fear to see if a parent is going to come home drunk and beat them. So staying together in situations such as that ONLY is helpful if the real problems are resolved and the home is changed.
So how does one handle it when children are hurt by the decisions we make? How does one face the fear and guilt that one may have messed up their children’s psyche for life?
I would suggest three things today.
First, while in the process of divorce, pray about each decision…even if you don’t hear clear answers, keeping an attitude of prayer makes a difference. And while you pray, entrust your children to God, for God loves them even more than you do!
Secondly, if you take the time to truly think through your decisions and make the best choice you can in the murky waters or divorce, afterwards you may need to grant yourself the grace of acknowledging that you did the best you knew how to do at the time. Don’t let hindsight lay guilt upon you, because the truth is, you didn’t know then what you do know now.
And finally, don’t over blame your divorce. If you look around you, there are plenty of individuals who were raised in a home without divorce whose lives are equally screwed up. There are even plenty of individuals raised in a solid Christian home, whose lives in adulthood reject everything they were taught as a child. Not every problem your child has as they grow up is a result of your divorce. Children are also responsible for the choices they make in life. No parent is perfect, and no child is perfect either. Sometimes life just happens, and sin’s influence takes its toll.
Do the best that you can each step of the way, confess your mistakes to God and to others appropriately, and then ask God to fill up the gap when you have fallen short in your efforts to be a good parent.