Tag Archives: divorce

Children of Divorce

Two new books written by Catholic authors—”Primal Loss: The Now-Adult Children of Divorce Speak” by Leila Miller, and “Marriage and Equality: How Natural Marriage Upholds the Ideal of Equality for Children” by Jennifer Johnson—explore the inner turmoil of children of divorce, the lifetime consequences of divorce, and the unique pastoral challenges divorce presents for children, whether young or adult.

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CWR: What surprised you most about the book contributors’ answers? Are there any unintended threads running through the book?

Leila Miller: What surprised me most was the raw pain, even and especially after so many years, and the fear of their true feelings being discovered. It was shocking to me! The pattern of the children protecting the feelings of the adults, sticking to the narrative they’d been given, and then acting out (or inward) in destructive ways as a way of coping with the explosion of their families—it was repeated again and again in their stories. Several of the contributors, upon reading the finished book, expressed shock that they were not the only ones who experienced the same feelings and patterns of behavior. In fact, some of them were surprised to see that certain entries were not their own! That is how similar many of their interior stories are.

Another surprising thing was that the devastation did not depend on the age of the child at the time of the divorce. Whether contributors’ parents had split when they were infants, small children, teens, or adults (even in their 30s!), the devastation, confusion, and sense of upheaval was profound. Also, whether the parents’ marriage had been abusive or low-conflict had no real bearing on their pain. We are told that “good divorce” is not damaging to children, and yet my contributors say otherwise.

The victims of divorce speak

Primal Loss: The Now-Adult Children of Divorce Speak,” by Leila Miller

Marriage and Divorce

“Don’t Divorce: Powerful Arguments for Saving and Revitalizing Your Marriage” is a book Diane Medved says she had to write. “Don’t divorce!” the psychologist and author writes.

“Mending the marriage is good for you and for your partner. Overcoming your problems will teach you how to prevent future problems in your marriage and with others. Facing your issues rather than running from them will provide insight about yourself, your needs, and areas where you need to improve. Elevating your communication and accommodating another will immediately improve your daily existence.”

Improving daily existence sounds compelling. And so does joy, which she urges and sees the potential for, having worked with countless men and women in her practice, and having experienced the heartache of divorce and the joy of successful marriage herself. She talks a bit about it — and some of the sensitive, grueling questions it raises.

Resisting the Divorce Momentum

Grace and Impossibility

What I find most troubling about the current controversy over whether the divorced and civilly remarried can be allowed to receive Communion (while living in the state of adultery) is the way the debate seems to obscure the whole issue of free will and grace. This is not simply a dispute over moral norms or sacramental discipline; at its very heart is the whole question of the power of God’s grace in the soul of the sinner.

Those who say that a person living in adultery may find it “impossible” to obey the sixth commandment – by logical extension any of the commandments in a difficult situation – are in effect demeaning either the operative power of the graces flowing from Christ or the operative freedom of the person struggling with temptation or living in sin.

If the operative grace of Christ is not sufficient to enable the sinner to reject the sin, repent, and do what’s necessary to change a sinful way of life, then just how powerful can that grace really be? When Paul begged Christ three time to remove the thorn in his flesh, which he attributed to Satan, Christ replied: “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor 12:9)

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What is going on today, however, is not exactly a form of neo-Pelagianism, but rather a new form of quasi-determinism. While Pelagius exalted free will to the heavens, the modern denial of the power of grace is based on the reduction of free will to a slave of the passions. Free will is so utterly weak, that in difficult situations, it cannot begin to cooperate with God’s grace. Thus obedience to the will of God becomes “impossible” in some cases, a position condemned at the Council of Trent for important theological reasons.

If God’s grace is so weak that it cannot heal the weakness of the will and enable it to overcome temptations, or moral conundrums – especially those related to the flesh – “my grace is sufficient for thee” is reduced to a platitude or banality, a nice saying, but ultimately meaningless for real life. Maybe Christ should have said, “Sometimes my grace is sufficient for thee, and only sometimes it is made perfect in weakness, but not always, in tough cases.”

Today, the penetration of the Christian ethos by various forms of determinism, especially by a rabid psychological determinism, has radically demeaned free will and human dignity and the power of actual operative grace, while absolutizing the grace of justification. It is more like a resurgence of extreme Calvinist determinism but without the element of negative predestination.

Is His Grace Truly Sufficient – or Not?

See also “The Pastoral and Moral Crises That Lie Ahead” by Fr. Mark Pilon

Fathers Need Children

This is the great paradox of our time: In 2017, it has never been easier for us to satisfy our wants, but we seldom have been more dissatisfied. In the United States, in Europe, in Latin America, and even (more quietly) in parts of Asia and in Australia, there is a sense that things are not going quite right, that the old order — not only in politics but also in commercial and religious life — is dead on its feet. People have turned to leaders and movements of very different kinds — Hugo Chávez, Marine Le Pen, Donald Trump, Black Lives Matter, black-mask anarchism — in search of alternatives. In a sense, they are all the same: Those who had felt themselves to be on the outside looking in are now on the outside looking out.

Once, the question the ambitious and dissatisfied asked themselves was: “How do I climb that ladder?” Current tastes run more toward smashing the ladder and the hierarchies for which it stands in the name of . . . whatever: feminism or anti-feminism, black liberation or white nationalism, global justice or national sovereignty.

We spend our days surrounded by great miracles and minor irritations.

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We do not have a problem of privation in the United States. Not really. What we have is something related to what Arthur Brooks (“the most interesting man in Washington,” Tim Alberta calls him) describes as the need for earned success. We are not happy with mere material abundance. We — and not to go all Iron John on you, but I think “we” here applies especially to men — need to feel that we have earned our keep, that we have established a place for ourselves in the world by our labor or by other virtues, especially such masculine virtues as physical courage and endurance. I suspect that is a big part of the reason for the exaggeratedly reverential, practically sacramental attitude we current express toward soldiers, police officers, and firemen.

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The newly unemployed man of 40 seeking to reinvent himself is not in the most promising position.

Two things are going on here related to American unhappiness: The first is that as our economy becomes less physical and more intellectual, success in life is less like war and more like chess, and extraordinary success in life — i.e., being part of the founding of a successful new company — is a lot like being a grandmaster: It is an avenue that simply is not open to everyone. It requires talents that are not distributed with any sense of fairness and that are not earnable: Hard work is not enough.

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But the marriage and family that once was a source of security is today a source of insecurity, an unstable and uncertain thing scarcely defended by the law (it is far, far easier to walk away from a marriage than from a student loan) and held in low regard by much of society. Again, this works differently for men than for women: A single mother is still a mother, but a father who lives apart from his children and their mother is not a father in full. If he is not fixed in this world by being a father and a husband, and if he has only ordinary, unexceptional employment, what, exactly, is he? Self-sufficient, perhaps, and that isn’t nothing. But how does he stand in relation to other men, to his neighbors, and to those who came before him and will come after him? His status is vague, and it is precarious.

And there is the paradox within our paradox: The world is wondrous and beautiful and exciting and rich, and many of us have trouble finding our place in it, in part, because it is wondrous and beautiful and exciting and rich, so much so that we have lost touch with certain older realities. One of those realities is that children need fathers. Another is that fathers need children.

But these are what my colleague David French calls the “wounds that public policy will not heal.” Our churches are full of people who would love to talk to you about healing, but many have lost interest in that sort of thing, too. And so they turn to Trump, to Le Pen, to Chavismo (which is what Bernie Sanders is peddling), and, perhaps, to opiate-induced oblivion. Where will they turn when they figure out — and they will figure it out — that there are no answers in these, either?

And what will we offer them?

On the Outside, Looking Out

Marriage – Love and Respect

Married men are healthier, wealthier, and happier with their sex lives.

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There is no doubt that marriage requires sacrifices, and lots of them. Successful marriages require men to work harder, avoid cheating, spend less time with friends, and make a good-faith effort, day in and day out, to be emotionally present with their spouses. Many men find these sacrifices hard.

But it turns out that the sacrifices pay for themselves and more. Contrary to the view that marriage is just a ball and chain for guys, the benefits are substantial. Marriage offers substantial returns on men’s investments in money, sex, and health.

Hey Guys, Put a Ring on It

Every relationship requires a masculine and a feminine energy to thrive. If women want to find peace with men, they must find their feminine—that is where their real power lies. Being feminine isn’t about being beautiful or svelte, or even about wearing high heels (although those things are nice). Being feminine is a state of mind. It’s an attitude.

In essence, being feminine means being nice. It means being soft instead of hard. And by “nice,” I don’t mean you should become a mouse. (That’s the narrative the culture sells, but that doesn’t make it true.) Men love women who are fun and feisty and who know their own mind! But they don’t want a woman who tells them what to do. As a man named Chuck once wrote on my site: “A strong woman is awesome. But she must be inviting and be able to mesh into an actual relationship. Needing to dominate and overpower, that is a no go.”

Society is creating a new crop of alpha women who are unable to love

Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs

I’m still emotionally disturbed by my parents divorce sixty years ago.

The Sexual Revolution has been going on for my entire lifetime. Millions of people have been harmed by its empty promises.

Whether you are a Child of Divorce, a Donor Conceived Person or a Refugee from the Hookup Culture, the Ruth Institute is here for you. You will find friendly (virtual!) faces, listening ears and powerful information.

The suffering from the Sexual Revolution has gone on long enough. Are you with me? Let’s begin.

Ruth Institute

I am a sixty-one year old adult child of divorce. My parents divorced in 1956 when I was two years old. My mother remarried in the same month that the divorce was final. My mother had full custody of me, and my new step-father raised me into adult-hood. I had minimal contact with my natural father especially after he remarried a couple of years later and produced four more children. He became busy taking care of his family, like we all do. But his absence in my life as I was growing up bothered me emotionally a great deal.

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For many years of my life until recently I thought my father had done somethings wrong or had not been a good husband to my mother and somehow screwed up the marriage. I was angry at him. I could not relate to him when I did see him, so I went long blocks of time, years, without having contact with him. I loved him, he loved me, but we had zero relationship. I also missed out on relationships with my aunt and grandparents on my father’s side. My father passed away ten years ago, and my aunt and grandparents are also gone. My aunt passed away last about ten months ago, and I all of a sudden had access to family photos, scrap books, misc. documentation. This prompted me to research my mother and father’s marriage and divorce all those years ago.

I found out that my mother became dissatisfied in their four year marriage and hooked up with a friend of my father’s (while she was still married to my father). This new man in her life became my step-father, who raised me. I did not know this information until I was sixty years old, just a few months ago. All through my life none of my elders told me what really happened, not even my father. For at least fifty years I had misplaced blame for my parents’ divorce. I blamed my father. When my father remarried, he was married until death, about forty-five years. My mother has been married four times during her life.

I’m still emotionally disturbed by my parents divorce sixty years ago.

See also “Retreat offers hope and healing for survivors of family breakdown

Social and Economic Costs of Legal Abortion

Fifteen years ago I published a paper on the “Socioeconomic Costs of Roe v. Wade.” In it, I estimated the impact of legal abortion in reducing the U.S. population (about 20% so far) and concluded, “taken in its entirety, legal abortion is perhaps the single largest American economic event of the past century, more significant than the Great Depression or the Second World War”….

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Legalizing abortion raised crime rates immediately and with a lag by turning new fathers back into men without dependent children.

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As Janet L. Yellen—yes, that Janet Yellen—and her husband George A. Akerlof were surprised to discover, legalizing abortion contributed to a retreat from marriage: “Although many observers expected liberalized abortion and contraception to lead to fewer out-of wedlock births, in fact the opposite happened [particularly] because of the erosion of the custom of ‘shotgun marriages.'” The role of legal abortion is obvious from its exact proportionality to the divorce rate (see Figure 9).

Social and Economic Costs of Legal Abortion (footnotes omitted)

The data from both samples provide clear evidence that parental divorce dampens educational drive. Among the young people surveyed in the prospective study, those who had experienced a late parental divorce were almost twice as likely as peers from intact families to drop plans for college or university education, becoming “undecided” as to their educational future (Odds Ratio of 1.8). The statistical linkage between parental divorce and diminished educational ambitions likewise shows up in the cross-sectional data, which establish that “adolescents who experienced parental divorce during childhood or adolescence were more likely to have undecided educational ambition, compared to their peers from continuously married parents (O[dds]R[atio] 1.3).”

“In conclusion,” the Oslo scholars write, “experience of parental divorce seems to be associated with undecided educational ambition among 18/19 year-old adolescents.”

Losing a parent to divorce affects educational ambition