Why does God hate divorce? Why does divorce break the heart of our God? I believe, among other things, it is because of what it does to the family – the picture of our relationship with Him and the foundational building block of society. More specifically, I believe that God hates divorce because of what it does to the children of those families that suffer the tragedy of divorce.
You see, divorce not only tears apart this most important of human relationships, it has long-lasting and devastating effects on the children of families that suffer this tragedy. Now, to be sure, we live in a society that is becoming increasingly more comfortable with divorce. We now have “no fault divorces,” (which, by the way, is a misnomer. It’s always somebody’s fault. In fact, the old saying is true, “it takes two to tango,” but that’s for another post) and expedited processes to allow the family to fall apart faster.
The idea most widely accepted today is that if two people don’t want to be together, if they’re not happy, then it’s better to get it over as smoothly and as quickly as possible. Sign a few papers. Pay a few attorneys. Line up a rental truck. Divide up the belongings and be done. Simple, right? No harm, no foul, right? Wrong. Because along with the broken home come broken hearts, and often, broken lives.
When Kim and I first started talking about getting married we had a mutual agreement. We would never even utter “the D word.” We thought that if we never said it, then we would never do it. Simple and naïve, I understand, but we made it through those first rough years together as we learned how to live as one and not two. Now, fifteen years later, we not only have ourselves and our lives to think about, we have two children, and one more on the way, to consider.
So, with all of that as background, I want to share with you some of the observations that I have made in my 15 years of marriage and ministry about how divorce effects children.
Why does divorce hurt children?
* It marks the total collapse of the family unit. As a result the child feels frightened and alone. This loneliness and fear doesn’t subside, but often becomes even more persistent and can last a lifetime.
* The couple’s ability to be parents is greatly diminished. They become preoccupied with their own emotions and needs in the critical months and years of the divorce.
* Divorce gives rise to conflicts of loyalty within the children. Should they take Mom’s side or Dad’s side? They get caught in a love and loyalty tug-of-war between the parents.
* As a result of their uncertainty about the future, children of divorce often develop deep-seated insecurity. Also, being so dependent on one parent can create a great deal of anxiety.
* The anger and resentment that is so prevalent between the parents often creates intense fear in the child. The younger the child is the more damaging the contentious climate can be.
* Children often take upon themselves a great deal of anxiety in regards to their parents. Often they worry more intensely about their mother in particular, since the departure of the father was such a terrifying event.
* If the family has to move, a child may lose a parent who stayed home, a home, a school, a church and their friends. Divorce represents the loss of so many things that a deep depression is often the result. Yet, sadly, few parents recognize this depression in their children.
* Lastly, statistics show that the children of divorce have a greater likelihood of experiencing a divorce in their own marriage, thus perpetuating this tragic cycle.
You should know that the trauma of divorce is exceeded only by death, Children experience a deep loss and suddenly feel vulnerable to forces that are far beyond their control. These feelings and fears affect them for years – often the rest of their lives.
So, I share today’s post as a plea for parents to protect their marriage, if not for their own sake, for the sake of their children.