A GROWING TRAGEDY - Parents Without a Mate Children Without a Parent
Donald D Schroeder
How does one cope with a fractured family?
HERE is a subject on which The Plain Truth must speak out! Latest evidence reveals that in growing numbers of inner-city public schools in the United States upwards of 90 percent of students have experienced a fractured home through divorce, separation, desertion or death. At least 20 percent of students across America are experiencing a one-parent home. Among black children in the United States it's 50 percent. And think of the consequent effects — financial stress, emotional grief, loneliness, altered social relationships, perhaps unwanted independence, or dependence on social assistance. Something drastic must happen in values and attitudes to stop this spiraling breakup and destruction of families through divorce, separation and desertion. The good news is this spiraling breakup of the home will be stopped — and sooner than this world imagines! But how do we humans avoid fracturing families? And what if the family is already fractured beyond repair? The answer is you need to learn and avoid the causes that either bring about or have already brought about these devastating problems. Where do you learn the causes? Remember for every effect there is a cause! There is a cause for every good thing in life and a cause for every kind of human misery. The cause of human misery is broken law. You see, the Creator God, at the beginning set in motion laws that would make for complete happiness, joy, love, prosperity — all the good things one could ever imagine. When we break these laws they break us. The result is heart-ache, sorrow and broken homes. To remedy already tragic situations we need to turn to God for help and advice. He reveals his advice — his purpose — in the pages of the book we call the Holy Bible.
No Time for Wrong Decisions
The early days, months or even years after a young family is fractured is an emotionally trying time. It is a period of deep and at times, extreme feelings — even a period of irrational or impulsive emotions and "needs." It is precisely at such emotionally disturbed times that many parents and children make major wrong decisions in their lives. Too often in society a younger divorced or deserted mate, perhaps even a widowed mate, panics because of financial, emotional or sexual needs. He or she rebounds into a hasty or careless marriage. Or into a sexual fling. Or a school-age youth tries to cope with unresolved family problems by abuse of alcohol or drugs or by engaging in sex. Or drops out of school or runs away. What was an unfortunate family problem now worsens into a more complex personal tragedy. Too many have not learned to endure any suffering or are not willing to take time to work their way through a difficult period of adjustment to their situation. If there is only one thing you who read this article remember, then remember this: at a time of emotional upset or confusion it is important to take time to bring emotions under control and to resolve feelings toward others before making vital decisions that will affect your or others' lives. If you're presently in an unfortunate family or personal situation, if you feel emotionally impulsive — that is, you are not in control of your feelings — don't make any big decisions or take a critical action in that state of mind. You will probably regret it later! Persons with confused emotions need proper counsel, advice and support. They need someone of sound emotional state with whom to talk out their problems. But where can they turn? Some encouragement and help can come from a sound-minded friend. But what is most required is wisdom — an understanding of God's laws of cause and effect (Jas. 1:5-6). Human problems are caused by breaking God's spiritual or physical laws. Instead of bottling up emotions, letting them eat you up or destroy you, seek wise help and counsel. Realistically face facts about each situation.
Seek Sound Spiritual Guidance
God's true ministers, who know and keep God's laws, are always ready to help you. And you may need to seek legal, financial or health assistance if necessary. Take time to work through to sound decisions. Don't expect all problems to resolve themselves painlessly. Don't turn to palliatives. There is no true or lasting solution in drugs, alcohol or frenzied living. One single parent summed up the wisdom needed to cope with a fractured home: "You can't escape all the hurts. You have to work through them. But let your hurts turn into manageable memories before you make a big decision — especially remarriage!" It is not the policy of The Plain Truth to endorse specific social organizations or agencies that deal with various family — or personal — problems. The value of any such organization or agency depends on its leadership, values, purposes and policies. The Plain Truth's focus is to lead individuals to understand the cause of human problems and resolve not to repeat them. Some organizations are especially helpful in that they encourage individuals to realize they are far from alone in their problems. But whatever advice you receive or decisions you make, you must judge it all against the revealed laws of God (Matt. 4:4). There is no other source of true, revealed knowledge!
Don't Worsen the Situation
Most divorced persons are so wrapped up in their personal emotions they don't realize how much of a shock and surprise it was to the children when divorce was actually announced to them — even if there had been a long period of marital strife between mates. Some authorities estimate 80 percent of pre-school children are given no explanation at all at the time of divorce.
Something drastic must happen in values and attitudes to stop this spiraling breakup of families through divorce, separation I and desertion.
Children are often confused and stunned. Because many of these children have misbehaved during the period of marital strife, many of them feel they are the cause of the breakup. They need to know they are not. Sin is the cause. Your Bible says, "Sin is the transgression of the law" — God's law (I John 3:4). Children usually have little to do with a final split. Divorced mates must be careful not to compound problems by letting children feel guilty for parental marital failure. Another common damaging practice between separated mates is using children as messengers of bad feelings, problems or as bill collectors. If you need to communicate with a former mate, call or write personally. Don't ever put children in the middle of situations you don't want to deal with or situations fraught' with misunderstanding or hostilities. Divorced or separated parents often make the mistake of cutting their former mate down in front of their children. Most children have deep feelings for both of their parents even if parents can't get along."It's like destroying half of me," said one child. A 13 year old said it well, "My father has to understand that when he shoots arrows at my mother, they first have to go through our bodies before they reach her." If you are not in custody of your children, but are the "weekend father" or "weekend mother," there are pitfalls to be aware of. Remember you are still responsible for the sound guidance of your visiting children. Don't allow "anything goes" when children are in your temporary care. Children may try to play one separated parent against the other to get something they want (junk food, candy, toys). And don't bribe children to make up for marital mistakes. For an extensive period of time, most children of divorce have a deep down desire for reconciliation between the parents. When that is not possible, remember that children need time to realize it. If a mate rushes foolishly into another marriage before these feelings are resolved in their children, they are courting resentment. Young children of divorce often fear that if parents are willing to stop loving each other, they will also stop loving them. These children need to know both parents still love them and feel a commitment to them. That love must be proven by actions. The most emotionally tragic situations for children of divorce occur when the parent of custody demands that children totally renounce all love and affection for the separated mate as the price of acceptance and affection. If parent-child circumstances permit, it is important that non-custody parents try hard not to miss regular times with their children. Such parents should make it clear from the beginning that their children can contact them any time the need arises. That shows a commitment to care for them. A deserting or disinterested parent leaves behind a legacy of depression and damaged self-esteem in children; the feeling that they are not worthy of being loved. Imagine the impact that will have on their concept of love and future marriage as they grow up! Don't make the mistake of dropping high moral values because of a separation or divorce. A sad case in point: One father maintained a close family and carefully taught his daughter all the way up into teenage years to be chaste. He allowed himself to become involved with a young girl at work and experienced a tragic alienation from his wife. The teenage daughter saw it as hypocrisy — which it was — and suddenly and totally rejected the right values the father had taught her. "If he can misbehave, so can I," she reasoned. Divorce does not bring freedom from family responsibilities as many feel. Single parents bear heavy pressures. They get bogged down struggling to cope. These parents and their children need to break their routine, get enough right social outlets and interests. Here's where concerned friends or other families can offer occasions for uplifting diversions or assistance.
Widows, Widowers Too
Widows and widowers too are victims of fractured homes of a different sort. Widowers are more prone to alcoholism, accidents, various ill-nesses and suicide. Why? Because many men never expect to survive their wives and are little prepared to take care of themselves, a house-hold or children. Too many try to escape loneliness in drink or a hasty remarriage. Statistics show half of these marital ventures end in divorce or abandonment. All individuals who have lost a mate need to take time to recover equilibrium before making serious decisions. Avoid going to extremes. Be positive. Make the most of your situation and opportunities. Seek wise counsel. There may be a better way of dealing with problems than you are now considering. Think of alternatives. Most of all, resolve not to repeat past mistakes.
Only True Solution
The scriptures place great responsibility on society to care for the fatherless and widows — and, in fact, to prevent the situation from arising. Read these scriptures for yourself — Deuteronomy 14:28-29 and 26:12 — where God places financial responsibility on society to help those in need. The apostle James defined true religion in these terms: "To visit the fatherless and widows [that most certainly includes modern fractured homes] in their affliction..." (Jas. 1:27). There is only one ultimate solution to today's problems. Jesus Christ must return to earth to restore the government of God and to establish a society in which humans are taught the purpose of life and how to have happy, stable marriages. Then homes will not be fractured through divorce, separation or desertion — the major causes of fractured homes in Western nations today. You can have a happy marriage now. Write for our free booklet Why Marriage? and reprint articles, "Seven Steps to a Good Marriage," and "The Care and Feeding of Marriage." Fortunately, growing numbers are heeding God's instruction through the pages of The Plain Truth. They are beginning to fulfill the prophecy, to "turn the heart of the fathers to the children" — that must come first — "and the heart of the children to their fathers" (Mal. 4:6). If you are a victim of a fractured family, or know of one that is — make sure you resolve not to repeat mistakes! And take time to make sound decisions in your life based on God's revealed laws!
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