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Monday, April 20, 2009

Divorce Through the Eyes of a Child


This is a guest post from a 17 year old that has been writing a book about her life and the feelings she experienced as her parent's divorced. I asked her if she would write an "article" for us and she graciously agreed.
Lizz and her family are dear friends of ours and I'm so blessed to see the beautiful young woman she is becoming.

Here is part of Lizz's story:

Since the very beginning of time, God said that “it is not good that the man should be alone” (Genesis 2:18) yet all around us couples are divorcing. So many people think that when they divorce the only people they’re affecting is each other but in reality the situation is so much greater. Husbands and wives are forced to face losing a spouse and children are forced to face losing a parent.

When I was four-years-old my father cheated on my mother and I. He chose to be with “the other woman” over us. After my parents were split up for three years, he divorced us. I say that he cheated and divorced both of us because that’s what it felt like. He may have only violated he and my mother’s vows, but he wasn’t leaving just her.

Like my mother, I felt hurt and betrayed. I couldn’t understand why we weren’t enough for him. What did this other woman have that we didn’t? Was there anything that we could have done better? Did he even love us anymore?

Very soon after my parents split up, I came to the conclusion that my father didn’t want me anymore. He wouldn’t have left my mother if he still really loved and cared about me. He would’ve stuck it out, for me. So I decided that if Dad didn’t even want me, who ever would? And from that moment on, I no longer cared. I wasn’t going to even try to make people like me because I thought no one ever would. I became somewhat of a “lone wolf” (just like my dad), I put up walls to protect myself and keep everyone out so not to get hurt again, and my natural instinct became pushing people away and sabotaging every good relationship I had, for the most part. Overtime I became so used to “not being wanted” that eventually I no longer wanted to be wanted. I became the strong person. I was the rock that no one could shake. No one, especially Dad, would ever know that deep down my heart was deeply wounded from just the one “small” decision of whether or not to split up and eventually divorce.

Unfortunately in our house we didn’t talk much about Dad and him possibly divorcing my mother. I still believed in all my heart and soul that my parents were going to get back together. And when my mother was suddenly marrying a different man, I knew that at some point the divorce had been finalized. But no one had given me any warning. I wasn’t ready to move on but I was being forced to against my will. I had no choice but to move on with Mom.

A little over a year after the wedding, Mom gave birth to another child. She had two children from her first marriage (my younger brother and I), had gained a stepdaughter through the second marriage, and was now having a third of her own. I was crushed. Even though Mom was once again married, I was still hanging on to a final shred of hope that she would get back with my father. I’d seen how quick and easy a divorce could be, so why couldn’t she divorce again? But I knew now that she was having a child with her new husband that she would never walk out. My parents would never, ever get back together. And that’s a hard concept to accept.

Obviously divorce is tough on all of the parties involved. But unfortunately the one who is filing for the divorce is usually only focusing on getting out of the marriage. In these situations you have to think about more than just that. You have to think about how the decision is going to affect your children. When I was younger I spent a lot, a lot of years hating my father and saying that he ruined my life because he didn’t think about me when he finalized the divorce. It took me about eleven years to stop thinking that way.

Divorce is something that the child has to carry with them for the rest of their life. Where the parent can move on and marry someone else, a child can’t change who they share half of their DNA with or who they lived with and were partially raised by as a child. Someone else may step in and be a father/mother figure in their life, but there will always be something missing: their other biological parent, even if they do spend every-other weekend with them.

It is especially hard on the child when they still have memories of having a family that consisted of both of their parents. For example, I was four when I moved away from Dad with Mom; my younger brother on the other hand was only four-months-old. I’ve had to deal with problem after problem that was linked to the divorce. He hasn’t had to deal with much of anything. All he knows as a father figure is our stepfather. I can still remember back to the days when it was just Dad, Mom, and I spending time together as a family of three. My younger brother will probably deal with more issues once he’s older and understands the situation better, but he hasn’t so far.

Even though my parents haven’t been together in thirteen years, it’s still hard on me. I know they can and never will be together again but that doesn’t stop that want or desire for them to be together to go away. I had such a hard time dealing with them splitting up that I became an insomniac. I have abandonment issues which were only made worse when my father was deployed overseas due to The War on Terror. For many, many years I dealt with depression and suicide. Because of the depression I have suffered from memory loss. I felt like I lost my entire childhood and had to grow up overnight because I had to act like a grown up and understand everything that was going on in my life. And the list goes on and on. I’m one of the lucky teens to have begun to deal with these issues so early on in my life. Just because I turned out okay, doesn’t mean that every other divorced kid will.

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t meant to criticize divorced couples/families. This is only meant to shed some light on the other people involved when making such a huge decision about whether or not to divorce. I’ve been through it and it’s not fun so I don’t take divorce lightly. No one else should either.

- Lizz


Zaankali said...

Wow! Very well written. I have so many girls in my HS and MS youth groups that have divorced parents and I can tell at different times that they are hurting. It is so hard to get them to trust, open up, and talk it out. It breaks my heart.

Daily Offensive (baha!) said...

I agree and know all too well what it feels like to be a child affected by divorce. My parents (who were pastors at the time) split during my senior year in high school. I was devastated and caught off guard. They had promised me that divorce was to be the final option.

Their separation affected my spiritual growth, as well. For a season, I stepped away from what the Lord had planned for me and did my own thing. Graciously and faithfully, He brought me back to Himself and taught me this:

He will never leave me nor forsake me.

In the last 8 years since the divorce, I have battled with not being a part of a whole family and dealing with a step-parent whom I had no say in whether or not she could join my family. Getting married and having a baby of my own only compounded my sadness and understanding of what had happened all those years ago. But, because He is so good, God did not stop teaching me. He has also spoken, sweetly, to my spirit:

Only I can complete you the way you need to be completed.

At the end of the day, I know that God, my Father, took a horrible situation and turned it into an opportunity to show His love, grace and providence over me.

And he also showed me this- that my parents were not born perfect, but they were covered in the blood of His son, Jesus. In all that they went through and all their pain, He held them just as close as He held me.

Amen! What an AWESOME God we serve!

Praise and Coffee said...

Thanks for your openness and honesty...but then after reading your blog I see you are so absolutely into honesty! LOL.
Love ya!

Mari said...

Wow - she did a great job of putting those thoughts into words.

Linda said...

Great reminder that when we think we are the only ones affected by our decisions we really are not.

Fitter After 50 said...

I can't even begin to tell you that I understand what you're going through. I do have to tell you that you are one remarkable young woman. I would also like to encourage you to pray about putting all of these thoughts into a form of a book because I honestly believe that you can help countless other children by your candid honesty.

Unknown said...

I'm a child of divorce and your words felt like mine. I so didn't want that for our son. But, I did find myself going in that direction.
My relationship with the Heavenly Father has helped my husband and I come together, forgive and respect each other.
Our son actually feels like he's the freak because he has the same set of parents - married to each other.
I told him that he should be proud to be a freak.
Thank you so much for sharing your insight. I wish others could see this.

Heather C said...

((((((((((((((Lizz)))))))))))))))))))) How very brave of you to share with us such an honest and heart-rending perspective! God bless your courage. I can see Him using you mightily already! Thank you. :)

Faye said...


A Stone Gatherer said...

Lizz, thanks for sharing your story! It is very frustrating from a bystanders point of view also when a person says it won't effect the kids in a bad way. I just want to scream "YES IT DOES!!!" Thanks for giving voice to alot of children!

Becky said...

It always saddens me to hear of people getting divorced, especially when children are involved. I believe when two parents have done all that they can (and I mean everything that they can) and still can not make the marriage work, that then, and only then, should they decide to divorce. I then believe that once the decision to divorce is made, that both parents make sure to put their children first. . make them feel special, don't fight in front of them... in fact Mike Mastracci
has a lot of great tips and tools that parents can use to help their children through a divorce in his latest book "STOP Fighting Over The Kids."

E @ Scottsville said...

Powerful post.

Thanks for sharing that with us!

Anonymous said...

My daughter is giving a speech in English today,the topic- "The best gift I ever received." Her best gift? Our divorce. She is grateful we cared about her enough to split up and help the situation. She knows what it was like before and she likes the after a ton better.
I have re-married and have another child as well. We couldnt be a happier family.
It's sad Liz had such a bad time, but it's not all bad.

Lizz said...

Anonymous: I'm glad that your divorce turned out well, really. But you have to realize that in my situation, both my mother and I were happy when my parents were married; neither of us wanted the divorce. Dad was the only who was unhappy. Our situation wasn't bad but he felt his was. I don't know your story so I can't speak for you obviously so this "article" is how I felt with my personality and the mindset that divorce was the last and most undesirable option.

(And thank you, everyone, for your comments; I appreciate the feedback :))

Kathy said...

We have grieved together, prayed together, talked into the late hours of the night together- And I'm so thankful we had eachother through this difficult storm!
I know you wish God had a different answer for how He healed our family-but you know as well as I do-you wouldn't be the beautiful, insightful, spirit-filled women you are today without walking thru it all...
I love you just the way you are and am VERY proud of you! The depths of your grief is a reflection of the great depth of e unconditional love you have for your dad and I pray someday his heart will be whole enough to recieve it!
Love, your mom

Michael and Annalea said...

This is an amazing story of what children feel during such a sad time. So many couples in the christian marriage ministry we're involved in think their kids are "fine". We know, from personal experience, that that's never the case. Even though, thankfully, our marriage was restored, every now and then the insecurities that our children experienced when we were in crisis mode still creep up on them.


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