Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Specter of Divorce

If it seems like I haven't updated much on Connor recently, well he's not doing much. He's started to roll over a little bit, even though his arm stops him from rolling over completely. He's also a holding baby. If he's not being held, he's either asleep or crying. He's also grabbing onto his toes and holding them a lot, which is fun to watch.

Kinsey and I were watching a movie the other day, one I did when I was five. I hope to put it up on YouTube at some point to share it. It was done by Nan Gurley and called A Wider World. It was little vignettes about struggles that kids go through. Mine was about getting a new baby in the house.

Kinsey and I were watching it and one of the scenes is where Mom and Dad are about to go to the hospital to have the baby. I asked Kinsey who Dad was and she said Dad, meaning my stepdad. I looked at her and said, "No, that's Grandpa." She looked at me confused. And it was then that I realized she had no idea that my mom and bio-dad were ever married.

My parents were divorced when I was 11. I was old enough to remember it and remember a lot of the things that led up to it, although at 11, I thought I knew a lot more things than I really did. I remember being scared. I remember wondering if they were getting divorced because I hadn't kept my room clean. That kind of stuff. And a lot of it came flooding back to me as I watched the piece with Kinsey.

My parents' divorce is the reason I have the relationship with Sheryl that I do. I'm honest with her, we try to share a lot of interests together, we work on money issues together. My parents divorced after 12 years of marriage. Sheryl and I don't even use that word, even jokingly, with reference to our relationship. I've seen too many marriages implode from a lack of communication and we will never do that to our kids, but even as importantly to ourselves.

I'm going to have to explain to Kinsey and Connor in more detail some day why they have three grandfathers and only two grandmothers and I'm sure they're going to ask why Mom and Dad divorced, and I'm sure they're going to ask if Sheryl and I will get divorced. I'm going to tell them that we won't and I hope that the relationship that Sheryl and I share can be a model for them, much as the relationship that my mom and (step) dad have and Sheryl's mom and dad have have been models for us.


Scott Freeman said...

Phil, I needed this today. Thanks for the encouragement to be a better model for our children. Some days marriage is hard.
Even for preachers.

Tony Arnold said...

Maria hasn't asked many question about why one set of grandparents live together and one don't (my parents are divorced). But it is coming.

Harder still will be to address the fact that I was married and divorced to someone before I married Anita. Maria won't know if we never bring it up. It really has no bearing on her other than I could use it to teach about marriage.

But when and do I ever bring it up? I don't have any desire to be secretive about it, but at the same time, do I bring something like that up for no reason just to avoid any surprises later?

I pray about that and let the spirit direct when and if. That is the best answer I have for now.


Suzie said...

D.J. hasn't asked yet about my folks. My dad and his wife have a nine-year-old son, so when the questions do come, I know one will be about why his uncle is Grandpa's son, but not Granny's son. As my older brother puts it, our family puts the "fun" in dysfunctional. D.J. was there a few weeks ago when I gave my "testimony" in chapel (Each of the staff members is sharing stories from his/her childhood.) I, of course, shared about my parent's divorce. It was tough to try and tell the story accurately while at the same time seasoning it with grace and forgiveness especially looking in the face of your five-year-old son. I hope I did. Last week, David was talking to the kids about love and he made the point that he loved God first, then me, etc.. One of the kids asked "What if you get a divorce?". David responded that we had vowed that we would stay together no matter what. I looked around the room and counted how many kids came from "broken homes". It was overwhelming. I want to be a cycle breaker. I want the kids I work with to be cycle breakers, too. My parent's sins or mistakes aren't so tragic if with God's help, I can learn from them. Thanks for sharing....

Thomas+ said...

My kids (5 & 7) see so much divorce they even incorporate it into their play. The Disney princes and princesses are always marrying and divorcing each other. They don't at all understand the tradgedy of divorce, let alone the sin issues. However, it is a reality that they have to incoporate because they live in America.

Both of my parents were married and divorced to other people before they married each other. I don't remember not knowing it. I think it would have been worse to find out later. Its like my friends who are adopted and didn't know until the big "reveal." That messed them up more than my friends who always knew.

So, that's what I've got.

DB Carden said...


The earlier the better once she can comprehend what you are talking about. If it were me, I would use it as a teaching tool at a moment she is asking about related matters.

I was 15 when I found out my father was adopted due to divorce and there was this other grandfather out there, but he had died 10 years earlier, etc. It was especially difficult on my brothers that were older than me (in their 20's).

DB Carden said...

I have to add that it was my father's choice to honor his mother by not sharing the information until after she was dead at the request of his stepfather.

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