How Do You Cope with a Parent’s Divorce?

By Aaron K.

Before I was born my parents had a beautiful, exciting marriage. They were a young family with the American dream gleaming in their eyes, ready to embark on life’s journey, hand in hand together; they were prepared to face the joys of life as well as the unknown, and possibly frightening, aspects of the future.

A few years before I was born, my stalwart father had experiences which brought him severe bouts of depression. Unfortunately, this wasn’t a week, a month, or even a year of feeling down in the dumps. It was over ten years. When he finally came out of his depression I was around the age of seven. Because I was so young, all I remember is how their relationship was from that time.

I grew up thinking that my parents had a perfectly normal relationship. They never argued in front of me; they never yelled at each other; they took us to weekly church services as a family; they even had date night. I saw no contention so I assumed that everything was dandy. My fragile reality shattered in a single car drive with my dad 11 years later. This thunderous news hit me like a bucket of cold water. After driving in the car for about ten minutes the conversation took a dive. It went something like this…

“Hey dad, how are you doing?”

“Not so good AJ. Your mom and I aren’t getting along too well.”

“Can’t be that bad can it? Not like a divorce or anything!” (I said this jokingly. Oh, the irony!)

“Sorry AJ, but things aren’t looking good; I really don’t know what to tell you. I think we are.”

It’s astounding how those simple sentences changed how I viewed my parents’ relationship. I thought everything was great between them and that they loved each other. I was terribly angry, confused, frustrated, and distant with my mother when I found out it was she who wanted the divorce. Why on earth would she want that? I couldn’t comprehend her reasoning.

After a while, my mother and I had a tear-filled conversation and she came to the conclusion that the only way a 17-year-old boy would understand would be to ask God in prayer to open the eyes of my understanding. In the Bible, James tell us that if any of us “lack wisdom, let him ask of God…and it shall be given him” (James 1:5). I know this meant to pray for answers, so I did; however, being stubborn and dead set that my mother was in the wrong for doing this to me, I prayed to prove her wrong. I really believed that God wouldn’t let it happen. After I prayed with what felt like was all my will power, Christ began to soften my heart and I began to think of things differently.

After weeks of further prayer and reading of the scriptures, I came to realize that Mom had endured over ten years of being with someone she didn’t love for the sake of raising her children in a home with two parents. What a demonstration of love! No longer was I angry at my mother for divorcing my father; no longer was I upset that things couldn’t go back to the way they used to be. No longer was I just thinking about me, myself, and I. Nevertheless, I was still stressed because my parents used me as a messenger, and no one likes to be the bearer of news which makes people frustrated or angry. As I continued to pray I gained the inner strength to tell my parents to stop using me in this way and the stress was relieved.

Time passed and the Lord helped to come to an understanding that my father and mother are both my parents, and love me, but that they have their own relationship as well. Children play a role in that relationship and it’s important to know that they need to try to support both sides. If two close friends have a relationship which is coming to an end, you don’t pick sides. You don’t throw one of your friends under the bus. You support and love them both and try to help them cope with the loss. So it is with parents. Both need love and support when going through a divorce. Christ didn’t withdraw his love from anyone and we shouldn’t either.

Jesus Christ suffered in the Garden of Gethsemane and willingly took upon Himself all the hardships, trials, afflictions, and sins of His people for the beautiful reason that He would understand how to best help us become stronger through trials and forgive us for our mistakes. Because He did this, he saved me from self-destruction. He taught me how to understand, support, and love. Should I have chosen to not reach out to him, I might have chosen many alternative routes to help me cope with this trial, many which would not be for my welfare later in life. Remember there’s always at least one person whom you may turn to, who knows the exact circumstance you’re in. He’ll guide you and show you the way to achieve the best results for your situation. You’ll be surprised as to what He’ll reveal to help you.

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