Kids are Resilient

“When I was 22 years old, my parents were divorced.  Even to this day, their divorce is the hardest thing I’ve ever been called to cope with because of all the ramifications of their split.  David Gushee’s book, Making Marriage Right (actually Getting Marriage Right) says it’s normal, according to hard research, even for adult children to rank their parents’ divorce as the number one pain-point in their lives.”  [Sarah Sumner, “Where is God in Tragedy,” Relevant (Nov/Dec 2011), p. 49]

A month later, in the next issue of Relevant (Jan/Feb 2012), one letter writer thanked the editors for the article “Where is God in Tragedy,” saying that having read the article, he felt validation of his deep pain.  He was 20 when his folks divorced.

When our son Brad was in Lebonheur Children’s Hospital a number of years ago, we were in a waiting room anxiously pacing because Brad was about to have some surgery.  While we waited, another set of parents was waiting, too.  Their child, a boy around four, was about to have surgery; one in a series of surgeries he was having to repair damage to his limbs.  The summer before, that child was playing in his yard when his older brother inadvertently ran over him with the riding lawnmower.  That poor child had to have surgery after surgery to reconstruct his arms and legs.

We talked some about the emotional health of this four-year old.  His dad said something to us that we will never forget.  He said, “Kids are resilient.”  Yes, kids are.

We won’t forget his words because we think of them every time we hear a husband or wife talk about the pain that their children will experience because they are pursuing a divorce.  “Kids are resilient,” they say.  Yes, kids are.

But to concede that a kid can survive divorce because she is resilient is NO reason to move forward with the actions that will lead to the incredible pain, the “number one pain-point!”  Would anybody say that running over a child with a lawn mower is somehow excusable trauma because he is resilient?    Of course, not.  Everybody would turn back the hands of time in that deal if they could.  But many parents continue the path to the divorce court, excusing the trauma upcoming in the lives of their children, with the words, “Kids are resilient.”  The lawnmower couldn’t be stopped by the adults around.  Most divorces can.  And most divorces should.

Nearly every time we talk about the pain that children of divorced parents experience, somebody makes the comment that it isn’t good for a child to live in a home where there is constant fighting and bickering either.  We admit, that’s true.  So stop it.  And if one of the adults in the marriage relationship is willing to stop fighting even if they doubt the willingness of the other, then let that one stop it.  There is another option besides divorcing or continuing the fight.  This is, in fact, the best option.  Stop the continual fighting!

Here’s something you can do immediately to get your marriage off to a better future.  Read Matthew 5 and determine that you will live in regard to your spouse like Jesus said to live in those verses.  Even if you don’t believe in Jesus, do what he said to do in the Sermon on the Mountain and you can have a marriage that will be better than most. Certainly better than what you’ve got!  And then your resilient children can use that resiliency for something else.  Something less painful than divorce!

If you need to know Matthew 5 quickly, here’s a summary:

  • Control your anger.
  • Work out disagreements quickly so that they don’t get worse.   Get help with this if you need to.
  • Don’t call each other hurtful names when you get angry.
  • Keep your thoughts under control.  Job said that he made a covenant with his eyes not to lust after a woman.
  • Keep your word.
  • Turn the other cheek
  • Go the extra mile.
  • Love your spouse even when you don’t like him/her.
  • 6 thoughts on “Kids are Resilient”

    1. Found your blog via Ashley at Katharos. Very good!

      In a week or so I’m going to feature some “Articles Worth Reading” on my blog and would like to include this one.

      If you get a chance, please visit Family Fountain.


    2. My parents got divorced when I was 17 years old. I remember thinking, “it’s about time!”. All I can ever remember them doing is arguing, everywhere we went. I didnt think it affected me until 13 years later, when I happened to be involved in my own ugly divorce. I remember calling my father for advice, and although I won’t print what he said, it made me realize that the only example I ever had on how to be a husband, was him. I love my father dearly, always have, and always will. He was there for every scrape, bruise, pitch, catch, disappointment, and milestone in my life. He showed me lots of love and lots of discipline. He taught me the value of saying yes sir & maam, and no sir & ma’am. But he did NOT teach me how to be a good husband. Luckily, I have had some amazing men in my life since then (RM) that have shown me how to love my wife as Christ loved the Church. So, with all that said, though I felt i was pretty resilient when I was 17, I didn’t learn the actual fallout of my parents’ divorce until I was 30.

    3. Thanks for sharing your personal experience with this Matt. One of the books that has been written recently about the impact of divorce on kids is “The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce: A 25 Year Landmark Study.” You’ve lived the results of this book – and like you say, years later really recognize it. Of course, lots of people in our culture have. We have to be informed, intentional, and holy as we lead the children in our communities through grief and healing. Grace and Peace to you and your family.

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