William G. Bass was engaged in a meeting with a local church, working in the neighborhoods of a small town in southeastern Florida. He and I had been asked by someone (and my, how you never seem to know just who) to find time to visit a recent convert who had been worshipping with a digressive group in town, seeking perhaps an encouraging word.
As mentioned in the first post, this is to address the lies and excuses parents often give to make themselves feel better about seeking a divorce when children are involved. I, who had parents divorce when I was in elementary school, want to use the Jon and Kate Plus 8 season to reveal some of these lies.
The eight year old twins are really stepping up and helping out with the sextuplets and with the household chores. This is not something to be praised but to be saddened over. The eight year old twins are sacrificing their childhood. They must become “parents” to the younger six because Jon and Kate are not together. Since one parent needs help, rather than play and enjoy a child’s life, the older children are forced to step up and act like parents. This is not praiseworthy but shameful. There can be future resentment when these two get older, when they look back and realize they could not be kids like they wanted because mommy and daddy could not get along.
“If you can be friends and get along, whether you are married or not married, and they can see the relationship is important and we are coming together for them, then it is really benefiting them (the children) in the long run.” No, in fact this is more confusing to the children. If you can be friends, civil, and come together for your children, then be together for your children. If you can pull this off for a few hours a day, then pull it off a few more hours a day, and then go to your separate rooms after the children are asleep. To think that you can provide the same stable, loving environment, married or not, is a terrible deception. The children will not see it like this at all. The children will not see the relationship is important when the parents are not under the same roof.
“None of this is their (the children’s) fault.” No child understands this nor feels this way. Parents can tell their children until they are blue in the face that it is not their fault. But children always project divorce upon themselves. Children cannot help but think if they had been a little more obedient or acted a little bit differently that their parents would still be together. They cannot help but think of all the times that they caused problems or stress through their actions and think that their parents might still be together if they had only been better. Children will go through this emotional anguish even when told it is not their fault. This is certainly be true in the Jon and Kate situation with 8 children. Because there are so many of them, they will think that they caused their parents to get a divorce.
We must get away from thinking that children are going to thrive and flourish under a divorce. They will be okay because children are resilient. Sure they will survive this. But is that what we really want for our children? Do we want them just to survive the pain that we as parents inflict on one another? We want to give them the very best in life and meet their emotional needs. Yes, the children will be okay. But that is not the goal of parenting. Otherwise we could lock children in their room with food and water and declare successful parenting simply because the children “survived.” The scriptures tell us that the goal of parenting is to teach, train, nurture, discipline, love, and build up our children. Divorce does not do this for our children.