‘Spirituality: Kids of divorce aren’t as resilient as we’d like to believe they are’

03.07.2013, 8:06 PM

In a local newspaper column, Pastor Jeff Snow writes:

…The first challenge is to the Church. A shocking statistic I came across was from a survey of church-going teens who had experienced parental divorce. They were asked if anyone in the church had reached out to them in any way during the period of the divorce. Two-thirds said no one did! The Church needs to notice children of divorce, hear them, and support them.

The second challenge is to couples. Marriage is a challenge. There are always struggles. Of course, in violent and abusive marriages, the victim and children need to get out immediately. This isn’t about them. This challenge is to the two-thirds of divorcing couples who are facing what experts call ‘elective divorces,’ where the situation is low-conflict and potentially resolvable. The challenge is, work at your marriage. Find solutions. For your sake and for the sake of the kids. Don’t believe the myth that they are resilient and will bounce back. In many cases, they will not. more


24 Responses to “‘Spirituality: Kids of divorce aren’t as resilient as we’d like to believe they are’”

  1. [...] ‘Spirituality: Kids of divorce aren’t as resilient as we’d like to believe they are’ « Fami…. Share this:EmailTwitterPrintFacebookPinterestLike this:Like Loading… This entry was posted in [...]

  2. Diane M says:

    “A shocking statistic I came across was from a survey of church-going teens who had experienced parental divorce. They were asked if anyone in the church had reached out to them in any way during the period of the divorce. Two-thirds said no one did!”

    This is bad and points to a need for religious organizations to do more.

    I find myself thinking, though, that part of the problem may be that we don’t like to admit that parental divorce is traumatic for kids. If you believe that it is not and for the best, you will be less likely to reach out and help the child.

    Ironically, wanting to believe that divorce is not a problem for kids could make it more of a problem.

    It would be interesting if someone studied the question of how churches respond to a child who loses a parent to death or experiences other crises. And what effect that has on an adult’s faith and religious affiliation.

  3. marilynn says:

    This term kids of divorce makes me so mad divorce does not make kids. Divorce happens to their parents not to them. Their parents are suppose to remain committed to them despite not being committed to one another any more.

  4. Diane M says:

    @marilyn – I think there are some people whose parents were divorced who identify with the term “children of divorce.” So I respect the term.

  5. Mont D. Law says:

    All this church chatter in the new conversation seems really weird to me and I think internally conflicted. Massive loss of the young is a real problem for them and they seem to have latched on to the idea that divorce is the real driver of this trend. This is in the face of research that shows the people leaving have an entirely different set of complaints about equality and social justice. Because the actual issues involved in this exodus are so difficult churches grasping this easier issue.

  6. Diane M says:

    Mont D Law – I think your comment sounds pretty anti-church.

    The research shows that children of divorced parents are more likely to become un-churched. Divorce probably plays some role in that, and it looks like it could be a real factor in what’s going on.

    All churches have been losing members, even the ones that promote equality and social justice.

    Our society is generally less likely to join any community organization, and I tend to think that our busy lives are probably the main reason churches have declining memberships.

    On the other hand, it makes sense to me that churches should try harder to reach out to families going through a divorce. That seems like the right thing to do no matter what.

  7. Mont D. Law says:

    (The research shows that children of divorced parents are more likely to become un-churched. Divorce probably plays some role in that, and it looks like it could be a real factor in what’s going on.)

    Yet when you ask the unchurched none of them mentions a lack of services for divorced families at all. Look at Barna’s research.

    http://tinyurl.com/3erx36z

    The actual reasons present foundational challenges not structural ones. I am suggesting that churches are latching on to a speculative explanation that suggests a structural fix rather than a proven explanation that suggests a foundational one.

    (On the other hand, it makes sense to me that churches should try harder to reach out to families going through a divorce. That seems like the right thing to do no matter what.)

    I agree but I think the church is wrong in it’s belief that this structural fix is any easier then the foundational one. What exactly would an effective outreach look like? Divorce prevention is a natural fit for churches and they should pursue it enthusiastically family wide. But once the divorce is under way I’m not sure how the church is going to help. In their eyes divorce is a failure of character and faith. In the face of that belief what counsel could they offer.

  8. This is so true! I wish when I had been a kid, my church had reached out during my parents’ divorce. It was a traumatic time for me, and no one really paid attention to its effects on me. Thank you so much for this article.

  9. zztstenglish says:

    @Nevada – Maybe the church didn’t know. Maybe the situation was volatile and needed a legal authority. Don’t know the situation and it’s not for me to judge but those are possibilities. I know the Catholic Church offers counseling services to families…

  10. zztstenglish says:

    Advocates of no-fault divorce said no possible harm could arise as a result of making divorces easier to obtain.

    We now know this not to be true.

    (“The real negative impact of the no-fault divorce regime was on children, and increasing the divorce rate meant increasing numbers of disadvantaged children.”)

    From pages 19-20

    http://www.sfu.ca/~allen/samesexmarriage.pdf

  11. zztstenglish says:

    “The second challenge is to couples. Marriage is a challenge. There are always struggles.”

    This is why the state incentivizes marriage — to promote procreation and get parents to stay together for the sake of the children. And since the state is in the business of encouraging optimum, stable dual-gender families, it has no obligation to encourage what it deems to be sub-optimal unions, whether gay, polygamous, or otherwise.

    http://www.sfu.ca/~allen/samesexmarriage.pdf

    From pg 9 (“[M]arriage is designed to deal with the myriad of issues that arise between a husband and a wife in order to create incentives to procreate and invest in their offspring…”)

  12. Mont D. Law says:

    (http://www.sfu.ca/~allen/samesexmarriage.pdf)

    This paper suffers from a number of flaws.

    (Researchers are discovering that serious child abuse is vastly more likely to happen between adults unrelated to the children. Will the state become more intrusive in regulating the home in light of this increased risk?)

    This statement ignores the fact that the re-marriage of heterosexuals is the major source of this danger to children and yet marriage law has never restricted re-marriage or seen fit to regulate it.

    (For example, it will be common for children in these marriages to
    have a different sex than the married pair: lesbians might have sons, gays daughters. No doubt many of these families will seek opposite sex influence and role models for their child — perhaps from the biological parent. Will the legal standing of this third parent evolve over time given the importance of same sex role models?)

    Re-marriage gives children two legal and three social parents and has managed to navigate this without expanding the legal definition of parenthood. He offers no real explanation of why or how marriage equality will change this.

    (Homosexuals, especially gay men who demand more sexual partners, will likely seek fewer regulations regarding adultery.)

    There are currently zero marriage regulations regarding adultery. It is neither a requirement of marriage nor grounds for it’s dissolution. The state has ceded these decisions to the couple. He offers no explanation as to how gay men will seek fewer than no regulations.

    (Third, given that same-sex relationships are often made
    up of two financially independent individuals, there will be pressure for even easier divorce since the problem of financial dependency will be reduced.)

    The emancipation of women and their entry into the workforce made this a reality 20 years ago. It has certainly impacted divorce law, though not marriage law. The paper has no explanation as to why marriage equality will impact this.

    (Along the same lines, spousal and child support guidelines
    that are designed around typical heterosexual household incomes may be inappropriate for same-sex households.)

    Why and how is not explained.

    On the whole it’s not a very good paper.

  13. Mont D. Law says:

    (This is so true! I wish when I had been a kid, my church had reached out during my parents’ divorce.)

    I’d be very interested in what sort of out reach would have been helpful to you.

  14. Hector_St_Clare says:

    Re: (Third, given that same-sex relationships are often made
    up of two financially independent individuals, there will be pressure for even easier divorce since the problem of financial dependency will be reduced.)

    I don’t believe in ‘financially independent individuals’ relationships any more than you do, but unfortunately this is a battle we’ve already lost in the legal arena. (We can, and should, still fight it in the cultural arena). I don’t think the problem is really with gay marriage here. Cultural liberals popularized the ‘financially independent individuals’ model of marriage a long time ago, before gay marriage was even thought of.

  15. mythago says:

    Advocates of no-fault divorce said no possible harm could arise as a result of making divorces easier to obtain.

    [citation needed]

  16. mythago says:

    @Hector, I’m more than a little appalled that you regret this battle having been lost in the legal arena; how a couple chooses to structure their finances or to arrange the responsibilities in their marriage is a little different than coverture. By the way, it isn’t true that a same-sex couple must by definition be made up of two financially independent individuals.

    @Mont, Douglas Allen is firmly opposed to same-sex marriage and defends the Regnerus study; I think the latter is a pretty good summary of the academic rigor of his paper.

  17. Hector says:

    Mythago,

    If there are a large number of gay and lesbian couples who believe firmly in complementary rolls, breadwinner and caregiver, I would be very happy to know about it, and I would think more optimistically about the future of marriage.

  18. zztstenglish says:

    @Mont- Except Professor Allen’s analysis is supported by the US government where all other family forms outside biological parents had higher rates of abuse.

    http://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/opre/nis4_report_congress_full_pdf_jan2010.pdf

    See 5.3.1. “Children living with two married biological parents had the lowest rate of overall harm…”

    “marriage law has never restricted re-marriage or seen fit to regulate it”

    You can’t outlaw re-marriage because things happen in life like the death of a spouse. Furthermore, getting a divorce WAS difficult before until they relaxed the rules.

    Some of the other points you raise are answered in the paper. Read carefully.

  19. Mont D. Law says:

    (all other family forms outside biological parents had higher rates of abuse.)

    Yet strangely Allen doesn’t want to regulate all family forms that produce higher rates of child abuse, just the one that doesn’t involve straight people. You might suspect that his objection to marriage equality is unrelated to child abuse.

    (You can’t outlaw re-marriage because things happen in life like the death of a spouse.}

    So it’s vital we restrict marriage among gays and lesbians but not straight people because inconveniencing straight people is just off the table. I know we could have a poster campaign. A ten year with a black eye. It could say: Sure you love him, but marry him and there’s a good chance your child will pay the price.

    (Some of the other points you raise are answered in the paper. Read carefully.)

    No it doesn’t. Try citing things that actually support your point.

  20. JayJay says:

    The Allen paper is absurd, as Mont D. Law, has pointed out. But what I object to is the continuing trolling of zzstenglish.

    To make a comment like this is profoundly uncivil: “And since the state is in the business of encouraging optimum, stable dual-gender families, it has no obligation to encourage what it deems to be sub-optimal unions, whether gay, polygamous, or otherwise.”

    To describe gay relationships as “sub-optimal” and to associate it with polygamous relationships should not be permissible on a site that says it is inviting a “new conversation” about marriage. Such statements are more appropriate on the blog of a hate group such as the Family Research Council.

    If the civility policy of this site is meaningful, then comments such as the repeated uncivil comments of zzstenglish should be removed.

  21. JayJay says:

    Why are offensive comments by obvious trolls allowed to remain on this site? Why have a civility policy if you are not going to enforce it?

  22. Mont D. Law says:

    (Why have a civility policy if you are not going to enforce it?)

    Repeat after me.

    Questioning the civility policy and it’s enforcement is a violation of the civility policy.

  23. zztstenglish says:

    @Mont – Except his argument against gay marriage is not because “his objection to marriage equality is [related] to child abuse.”

    His argument is (“[M]arriage is an economically efficient institution, designed and evolved to regulate incentive problems that arise between a man and a woman over the life-cycle of procreation”) and (“[I]ts social and legal characteristics will provide a poor match for the incentive problems that arise in the two distinctly different relationships of gay and lesbian couples. Forcing all three relationships [hetero, gay, lesbian] under the same law will lead to a sub-optimal law for all three types of marriage.”)

    Did you even bother reviewing it at all?

    I could address your other point but I suspect you just skimmed it and then instantly dismissed it. Hence, the misunderstandings in your statements.

  24. Hector says:

    ZZ St English,

    I’m responding to you here because the other thread ran out of comments, but you seem to lack a basic understanding of some basic statistical concept. I sort of have to ask what training in statistics you have.

    A sample of 556 isn’t necessarily better than a sample of 6, if neither one was drawn from a pool representative of the broader population. I would suspect that gay HIV patients in San Francisco are more likely to have open marriages than the gay population as a whole. I’m not sure what you expect that to tell you. also, there’s no such thing as a ‘statistically significant sample size’ that terminology is simple nonsense.