Monday, December 22, 2008

When the elephant leaves

From a dad, writing in the Chicago Trib:

Most parents, whether together or apart, try not to have the messy circumstances of their own lives bleed into the world of their children. How many shoppers this season have said that they are determined not to let the dismal economy dampen the holiday? But sometimes truth is a missile, unavoidable. Kate remains young enough not to realize how her existence is different from that of many classmates because her mother and father do not live together. But the wheels are turning. She groups her beloved stuffed animals in family units. There must always be a mother and a father and a baby. That view of what is "normal" is bound to change. At some point, one of those elephants is going to take a powder.

Newsweek on divorce

Newsweek has a good article on the challenges of post-divorce parenting from the parent's perspective, along with a video featuring a 14-year-old girl talking about her daily life shuttling between two parents.

Star 88.3 interview

Here's a link to an interview I did with Melissa Montana on Star 88.3 out of Missouri. And here is part two of the interview.

Playing the trump card

From an article about Child of Divorce, Child of God on the Christian Grandparenting Network web site:

If you have ever played a card game involving the use of a "trump" card or suit, you know the frustration of playing what you think is a winning hand only to have it trumped by someone else. Now is the time for Christians to play our "trump card" -- our belief in an all powerful and loving God...As grandparents, we know all about the ravages of divorce, even as Christians. If you are living with the reality of divorce in your family, this is a place where "intentionality" is crucial. We are in a unique position to help our grandchildren of divorce find healing and hope. But it means we must build a solid framework of truth about the God who IS, and that He really does care about the burdens and wounds they bear.

Friday, December 05, 2008

BreakPoint on Child of Divorce

Today's BreakPoint commentary features Child of Divorce, Child of God. You can read the transcript or listen online here.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Time for Hope

Beginning this week, you can see a taped television interview I did with Dr. Freda Crews on her program titled Time for Hope. The program will be available on the Time for Hope web site, and you can click your state on this map to see when the program will air on television near you.

Divorce in WorldView

BreakPoint WorldView magazine is running an excerpt from Child of Divorce, Child of God. You can subscribe online for free and get links to a number of reprinted and original articles on a variety of topics from a decidedly Christian viewpoint.

Crosswalk excerpt

Crosswalk.com is running an excerpt from Child of Divorce, Child of God on their web site. Check it out here. And while you're there, leave a comment to let them (and me) know what you think.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

On the radio and online, Monday

You can hear me talk about Child of Divorce, Child of God on Monday at 1 p.m. Central time for 45 minutes. I'll be on Northwestern College Radio's Along the Way program. The web site for the program is here and the streaming audio, where you can listen online, is here. If you live in the Twin Cities, Duluth, Fargo, Sioux Falls, Waterloo or Madison, you can listen on the radio.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Can you hear me now

Audio of my interview earlier this month with Ted Elm on WWJC's Northland Notebook in Minnesota is available online here.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Where in the World is my book?

Thanks to Susan Olasky at World magazine for reviewing Child of Divorce, Child of God. The review is available by subsciption only on World's web site or in the current print issue. Here's a teaser:

"Her memories strike a balance between ugly reality and compassion—this
isn't a blame-throwing volume, but it also won't provide comfort to those
wanting justification to divorce."

Friday, October 24, 2008

Heartbreaking

From a column in the Telegraph:

I am still trying to come to terms with my parents' divorce, 54 years ago. I've recently spent time with my 92-year-old father whom I hadn't seen for 25 years, and before that, for nearly 30. Following the divorce, Dad moved to Canada to start a new life and we heard little from him. He bought a computer for his 90th birthday and we began emailing, which is how we came to meet again. The two weeks we have just shared were very special. I felt a mixture of great happiness, because we got on so well, and sadness because I have missed so much.

Read more here.

Zing or sting?

Coming soon to a theater near you, a hilarious satire about grown children of divorce still caught in the crossfire. Hahahaha, I'm laughing already. At least it's billed as a dark comedy. The writers of the screenplay had this to say about their script being picked up by Miramax: "We're very glad to get the validation from Miramax, especially since we've been working on the script longer than any of our parents were married." Mom and Dad must be so proud.

Reality check for mom

From an Ask Amy column, a reader writes about her daughter's lingering emotions four years after the parents' divorce:

But my youngest daughter, 15, is having the hardest time coming to terms with it all. She is moody, gets upset easily and still yearns for life as it was before. She was very close to her dad, but he does only an average job of staying in touch with her. But I feel by now she should be used to life as it is.

How much longer is this going to take?


Oh, dear. At least Amy was willing to serve up a little reality for this mother. Read her answer here.

Redecorating divorce

From an advice column in an Oklahoma newspaper:

DEAR MI-LING: I am nearing the end of a painful divorce. I want to redo my home and make it my own, leaving behind all of the bad memories of this relationship. Is this healthy for my school-age children or should I keep some of the old memories in the house to help them feel comfortable?


Click here to read Mi-Ling's answer.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Across the amber (air)waves of grain

If you live in Duluth or Portland, you might have heard me on the radio today. Ted Elm of Northland Notebook in Duluth, Minnesota (WWJC) had me on his show this morning. This afternoon (their time), I talked with Georgene Rice on KPDQ in Portland. Next week I'll be doing several taped interviews that will air at later dates and times. More to come.

Splitting up our selves

If you live in two worlds, are you still just one person? That's the question that seems to be asked in a book for children called A Heart with Two Homes. From GTR Newspapers:

In a beautifully simple and accessible way, along with wonderful illustrations, the book tells the story of a young girl named Elizabeth; “Lizzie” to her mom, and “Beth” to her dad. “Lizzie” is a girl who is a “girly-girl” when at home with her mother because she and her mother spend time doing girl things, and she wants to please her mother. “Beth” is a tomboy when she is at her dad’s house because they spend time doing sports, and she wants to please her dad. It’s a story about a young girl who moves from being “Lizzie” to “Beth” on a regular basis, who feels increasingly distressed that she is being dishonest about who she is because she had two “different selves,” and who eventually is able to integrate “Lizzie” and “Beth” and just be a girl with a one heart named “Elizabeth” who has two loving homes.

The author, Monica Epperson, is a Christian whose faith informs her writing about the topic of divorce:

“Starting when I was very young my mother told me that I always had and always will have a Father in heaven. Consequently, even though I experienced five divorces before I was 12, I have never felt fatherless. I have always known that I have a Father, that He has always loved me and that He will never leave me.“ In fact, Epperson is already busy writing her next book, “Never Left Fatherless.”

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Challies review

Click here to read Tim Challies' review of Child of Divorce, Child of God. Many thanks to Tim for the great review!

Just a side note: When I read Tim's review there was one comment from a guy who wondered how the book would be different if written from a male perspective. He hadn't read the book, but if you're like him and wondering whether this book will be specific to my own situation as a child of divorce and a woman, let me assure you that's not the case. While I do tell my own story of growing up as a child whose parents divorced when she was three, I also interviewed others and include their stories as well. The book includes stories of people whose parents divorced when they were children, teens and even adults; stories of people whose fathers were the ones who left and others whose mothers were the ones who left; and, yes, stories of both men and women who had experienced the divorce of their parents.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Never forget

Photo taken in 1991 from Empire State Building.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Allergic to divorce

Have you noticed how many kids today have allergies? Researchers in Germany might have an explanation for this trend. Apparently, they've connected immune deficiencies, including asthma, allergies, and eczema to childhood stress and specifically to the separation or divorce of one's parents.

Meet me in St Louie

I'll be on KFUO, broadcasting out of St. Louis, today at 5 p.m. Eastern. You can listen online here.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Radio interview

You can listen to me live on WMUZ (Detroit) on Monday, September 8 from 1:00 to 1:30 pm Eastern. Follow the link to listen online.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

9Marks Buzz

My pastor, Mike McKinley, just posted a gracious recommendation of Child of Divorce, Child of God on the 9Marks blog. If you're a pastor or lay leader and aren't familiar with the 9Marks blog, you should check it out; it's a great group of pastors who discuss theology, church life, and the occasional scary baby video. (I'm sure a lot of people thought he was cute, but that kid freaked me out more than Chucky.)

Detroit radio on Monday

I'll be doing a live radio interview on Monday, September 8, with Bob Dutko of WMUZ in Detroit beginning at 1:00 Eastern and lasting for a half hour. If you're not in the Detroit area, you can listen online.


Stay tuned for info on future listening opportunities!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Tune in

I'll be doing a 45 minute live radio interview with Neil Boron of WDCX FM in the Buffalo, New York/Toronto area this coming Tuesday, September 2, from 3:15 to 4:00 p.m. Eastern time. You can listen to the program streaming live over the Internet at www.wdcxfm.com. We'll be talking about the book, so tune in to listen.

Later in the month, I'll be doing a 25 minute live radio interview with WWJC in Duluth, Minnesota. That interview is scheduled for 10:05 to 10:30 a.m. on September 25th and should be available by live stream on www.wwjc.com.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Sibling squabbles

Yesterday's Washington Post reported that Cindy McCain has two half-sisters, one of whom is upset that Mrs. McCain talks about herself as an only child. Then, Vanity Fair in Italy broke news that Senator Obama has a half brother who lives in poverty in Kenya.

The implication in both cases seems to be that we should blame the famous half siblings for something, but is that really fair? Who knows what bad blood has passed between Mrs. McCain and her half sister, but I would guess that the half sister's rage is really toward her father who abruptly and without explanation cut her and her children out of an inheritance they apparently expected. Senator Obama has only met his half brother twice. Neither of them ever lived with their half siblings.

I blogged some time ago on the distinctions that children of divorce often make between family relationships. It's not surprising to me that Mrs. McCain and Senator Obama feel disconnected from people who share a parent and little else with them. Mrs. McCain's half sister expressed anger at hearing the Senator's wife describe herself as an "only child," and if she said she was the only child of her father, I can understand the half sister's dismay; but what if she said she was the only child of her father and mother? Another story altogether.

Ah, the complications that divorce brings into our lives!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

What's a dad to do?

Did you notice all the moms at this year's Olympics? This writer did:

Indeed, the number of superior male athletes at the Olympics who look to their mother, as opposed to their father, for inspiration is astonishing. Basketball superstar LeBron James was raised alone by his mother Gloria to whom he remains especially devoted. Jamaican uber-sprinter Usain Bolt ran straight to his mother Jennifer's arms after breaking the world record in the 100 meter dash and becoming the fastest man alive. America's best male sprinter, Tyson Gay, is so close to his mother Daisy that he phones her every day and especially an hour before he races to help calm his nerves. The list goes on.

Leading him to ask, are men necessary? Maureen Dowd asked that in a recent book title. Boteach's conclusion, however:

And then I remembered. Yes, there was one big thing. I alone could love their mother. That was not something she could do on her own. I could teach my children by means of living example the glories of devotion to a special woman who sacrifices so much on all of our behalf. I could show my children that love was not a fantasy concocted in Hollywood or invented in a novel. I alone could demonstrate to my children that their mother was precious and that love was real. No one could do this but me. I was necessary after all, as was every other father and husband.

In other words, the greatest gift a man gives his children is to love their mother. By doing so, he imparts the lesson that there are things in life more glittering than gold and more precious than rubies.

A mother's response

This is a perfect follow up to the article I just posted:

I won’t sit back, though, and let this ruin me. But I will look at my children every day for the rest of my life, and see the pain and hurt their father caused by walking out. The distrust, anger, and pain that this has carved in their life will never be erased. How can I be so sure? I was the child of a divorce. This is not something a child gets over. Divorce is something children learn to live with because their parents have given them no choice.

My ex asked me during the whole separation process, “Do you really think the kids want me stay married and be unhappy?”

Um. Yeah. I do. It’s called love: unconditional, selfless, pure love. This is a value that is slowly diminishing in our society.

Someone should be committed

With all due respect to this columnist, he has missed the point. Apparenty, in an earlier column Neil the columnist advised a man to leave his wife. A reader offered this protest:

This life is not all about you. Your happiness is not the center of the known universe. This man has three children, a wife and I imagine friends and extended family who will also be fractured from this, and all you talked to him about is his happiness. Do you think children or young adults will be happier because one parent decides to pursue their own happiness?

Unmoved, Neil the columnist responds:

No, I would argue that couples, even couples with children, should not stay together if they are psychologically divorced — or if one of them is. It’s too cold an environment to bring kids up in, and it’s unhealthy for everyone involved. Few marriages are made in heaven, but no one should have to tolerate hell forever.

What Neil fails to realize is that the end of an unhappy marriage for the person who feels trapped in it may feel like an escape from hell for him or her, but it is really just the beginning of hell for the kids whose lives will never be the same. And, can't you just imagine this conversation: "Kids, as you know, I psychologically divorced your mother five years ago." Huh?

Now, try imagining this conversation between a father and his adult child: "Son, marriage with your mother has been difficult and not at all what I expected. Still, I made a commitment to her and to you kids and no matter how difficult things were, no matter how much I was tempted to think that I might be happier if I left, I couldn't do that to you all. I love you and I want you to know that commitments are important and you are important. It's important to stand by your commitments, Son, even when they are difficult to follow through on."

Hmm. That's probably just too crazy to imagine.

Dropping the ball

Boston Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek and his wife Karen filed for divorce this summer. The couple has 3 young daughters, ages 3, 6, and 8.

HT: Catherine Larson, wife of famous Red Sox fan Mark Larson

Now you see Dad, now you don't

Children of divorce sometimes talk about having to be selective in their memories, parsing out the stories of vacations and holidays and fun times depending on which parent they are with at the moment and which parent was or was not a participant in the original festivities. We lose something of ourselves by having to carefully edit our speech. Now it seems, we're in danger of having our visual memories edited for the comfort and convenience of others as well.

Idealized images, she said, can give people “a new script for dealing with problems families have always had: family members who don’t get along, divorce.”

“If you can’t have the perfect family,” she added, “at least you can Photoshop it.”
HT: Gina Dalfonso

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Top 10 list for the book release

Well, the day has finally come and my book, Child of Divorce, Child of God: A Journey of Hope and Healing, is about to hit a bookshelf near you! I am so inexpressibly grateful to the many people who have supported me and encouraged me through this process. As the official release date (September 1) draws near, I wanted to let you know of some final ways that you can help. With a nod to David Letterman and to Jen Abbas de Jong (from whom I stole some of these ideas), here are the top 10 ways you can help make this book launch a success:
10. Buy the book! It’s available online at Amazon, Parable, Christian Book Distributors (CBD), Barnes & Noble, Borders, Books-a-Million, Target, and Lifeway Christian Stores to list a few.
9. Ask your local book stores to carry a copy.
8. Ask your library to carry a copy. Don’t forget your church library.
7. Tell others about the book. Some suggestions: adult children of divorce, parents who are divorced, your pastor, anyone who ministers to young adults, Christian counselors, local Divorce Care or Divorce Care for Kids leaders.
6. If you have any contacts with local media who might want to run a review, write an article, or do an interview with me, please tell them the about the book.
5. I’m willing to travel as needed (and as my budget allows), so if your church or a group you are involved in would like to have me come and speak for a special event, I’d be happy to do so (and even happier, for those out of town events, if the group will pay my travel expenses); I’m also happy to do book signings. (Note to my Illinois friends: I’ll be in IL for a wedding in mid-October.)
4. Write a review of the book on any of the online retailer sites.
3. If you’re part of a book club that reads nonfiction, suggest Child of Divorce, Child of God.
2. Consider buying extra copies of the book and giving them out to children of divorce, pastors, counselors or others who might be interested.
1. And the number one way you can make this book launch a success…PRAY! Please pray with me that this book will make it into the hands of many hurting individuals and that they will find the hope and healing that only comes through Jesus Christ!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Books are here!

After a long absence from the blogosphere--during which my wonderful parents spent two weeks doing back-breaking labor, painting and installing laminate flooring at my house, not to mention hanging new lights, replacing bad outlets, making snacks at the most opportune times, and conducting a neighborhood seminar on the poisonous plants of northern Virginia--I am excited to report that a small stack of my books is sitting next to me as I type this! My author's copies arrived on the FedEx truck today, rescuing what was otherwise a very stressful and frustrating Monday.

I sent out emails today offering to speak at several local church-based divorce support groups. If you'd like me to speak at a gathering, do a booksigning, or do a Q&A or guest column on your blog, contact me through the link in my blogger profile.

You can now read an excerpt of the book on Amazon, so go check it out! (See the link to the right.)

Monday, July 14, 2008

All I can say is, wow...

Seen in the Washington Post:

"She was always my hero when I was growing up. . . . I feel like I have to be the mother now." -- Brooke Hogan, daughter of former pro wrestler Hulk Hogan and sister to the incarcerated Nick Hogan, speaking to "Access Hollywood" on her strained relationship with her mother, Linda, 48, who is dating a 19-year-old former classmate of Brooke's.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Learning to juggle

From Dr. Joyce Brothers' column:

DEAR DR. BROTHERS: I'm 16 years old, and I play three sports and am an editor on the school paper in addition to volunteering at the local hospital and our homeless shelter. I've been dreaming of going to a top Ivy League school my whole life, and I'm doing everything I can to get in. I'm terrified that I won't get in, and I'm totally stressed out. On top of all this, my parents are getting a divorce. It's really hard to be at home, and I don't know what to do. How can I keep my schoolwork up, keep doing all my extracurricular stuff and keep my home life together? -- D.H.

80 years, still hurting

From a column in the Toledo Blade:

Father's Day was never a favorite holiday for me as a child. When I saw it coming on the calendar I was uneasy. Would it be my Sunday to be with my dad? If it weren't, I would have to wish him a Happy Father's Day on the Sunday before or after.

As a child of divorce, who as a senior citizen still feels the pain, I share these personal experiences for divorced single parents. It is not a request for sympathy, but a message that I hope will sink in to single mothers and fathers.

We all hear the staggering numbers of today's divorce rates. Back in the early '30s, on the brink of the Great Depression, it was quite uncommon. I was 3 years old. All I remember is that one day my dad didn't come home from the post office, and from that day on I saw him every other Sunday, according to a court order, and two weeks in summer.

The other dads

From an op-ed piece in the Baltimore Sun:

...the United States has a proud past of notable stepfathers. George Washington, the "father of our country," was a stepfather to Martha's children. Dr. Seuss was a stepfather, as was the famous baby doctor Benjamin Spock. So too were authors C.S. Lewis and E.B. White, actors Ashton Kutcher and Brad Pitt, Sen. John
Kerry and singer Johnny Cash.

Former Presidents Bill Clinton and Gerald Ford had stepfathers who adopted them. Meriwether Lewis, the great explorer, had a stepfather, as did Booker T. Washington, Charlton Heston, jazz artist George Benson, country singer Shania Twain, authors Anne Perry and Truman Capote, and presidential candidate Barack Obama.

Dads in church

Brad Wilcox had a nice piece in the Wall Street Journal last week about the influence of church communities on fatherhood.

...religious fathers are more likely to devote time, attention and affection to their children than their secular peers. For example, compared with dads who indicate no religious affiliation, fathers who attend religious services regularly devote at least two more hours per week to youth-related activities, such as coaching soccer or leading a Boy Scout troop. Churchgoing fathers are also significantly more likely to keep tabs on their children, monitoring their activities and friends. Finally, religious fathers are about 65% more likely than unaffiliated fathers to report praising and hugging their school-age children "very often."

Travel tip

You know you've stopped for lunch in a high crime neighborhood when they have to padlock the toilet paper.





Seen at an Arby's near Fredericksburg, Virginia.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Crash helmet for divorce

From a review of A Nation of Wimps in the Wall Street Journal:

...even as parents obsessively strap bike helmets on their kids' heads and squirt antiseptic gels on their hands, the adults themselves cavalierly break up families with divorce and tolerate the rampant sexualization of prepubescent girls. In short, we're focusing on the wrong risks.

Splitting pennies


Financial planner Linda Leitz has a new book out to help divorced parents talk with their kids about money. Called "We Need to Talk: Money & Kids After Divorce," Leitz's book is designed to help parents understand how the financial strains of divorce affect children and how they can help children feel able to do their part to make things easier financially without feeling the adult-sized burden of financial worries.

Amy-able wedding advice



Dear Amy: My daughter is getting married this summer. She is 22. Her biological father left us in 1994 for his secretary and has since married her. He pays child support and calls once in a while, but he was distant through her "terrible teens." I remarried in 1996. Our combined kids were 5, 6, 7, 8 and 10 at the time we married. My husband and kids have been close, and now that there is a wedding, the secretary/second wife has contacted our daughter and asked about the ceremony. She wants to make sure my daughter's biological dad walks her down the aisle. She says only the biological dad should do so. The kids and I believe the stepdad should be involved because he has chosen to be a part of the kids' lives for more than 12 years, dealing with cuts, scrapes, car crashes, boys, school, etc.I would not dream of excluding the stepdad or the new step-secretary-wife of the biological dad. This must be a common problem. What do you suggest? How can both dads be involved?—Wondering Mom




Click here to read Amy's sound advice.

Monday, May 12, 2008

BreakPoint weighs in on divorce

Today's BreakPoint radio commentary features the post I did on "Redeeming Divorce."

...as Kristine Steakley, author of the forthcoming book Child of Divorce, Child of God and a blogger at The Point, wrote recently, “God offers us a better comfort. He doesn’t give us acceptance; He gives us redemption. . . . His comfort does not say, ‘Well, that’s just the way things are; better get used to it.’ Rather, His comfort says that our world is essentially broken and that our only hope is the redemption that He himself offers.”

And that is the message the Church must send to the Divorce Generation. The brokenness caused by divorce is palpable. The pain is real. There is a reason God says, “I hate divorce.” But He is also the God who makes all things new, Who binds up the broken-hearted.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Not the reality you wanted

Glenn Sacks, on why a reality TV show aimed at humiliating deadbeat dads is a bad idea:

"The worst part about Bad Dads is the way it publicly humiliates children of divorce by depicting their fathers as not loving or caring for them. These children did not volunteer to be humiliated on national television."

Beyond the headline

This headline keeps popping up in my inbox:

Study: Impact of divorce on kids less damaging


For years, social scientists have believed that children of divorce have had more behavior problems than kids growing up in two-parent homes.

But the impact may not be as damaging as previously believed, according to new research to be released Friday.

Instead of comparing these youngsters to those with intact families - the usual methodology - a more accurate assessment would be to evaluate them before and after the marital dissolution, argues Alan Li of the RAND Corp.


or not:

Robert E. Emery, a professor of psychology at the University of Virginia, takes issue with the conclusion. While Li may not have found increased negative behavior, less quantifiable is the hurt that can reverberate across a lifespan, he explained.

"For example, graduation and weddings can be turned into anxiety-ridden events for children whose parents are divorced . . ." Emery wrote in a response to Li's findings.

Monday, April 14, 2008

The dog ate my homework


So, there I was on a sunny Saturday, sitting indoors and proofreading the typeset copy of my book manuscript, when a knock came at the door. It was my neighbor Kim, dropping off the hedge trimmer that I was borrowing. She borrows my weed whacker and I borrow her hedge trimmer. "Why delay?" thought I. "I'll just trim the overgrown shrubbery right now and get it over with." So out I went and trimmed and shaped until the shrubbery looked more like delicate garden landscape than wild untamed wilderness. I returned the hedge trimmer to Kim's front steps and walked back to the house with a sense of healthy satisfaction.

Then I opened the front door.

Only then did I remember that I had left my typeset manuscript sitting on the sofa in the same room as a certain furniture jumping dog. Said dog was happily shredding and eating page 27.

Luckily, that was the only page the aspiring book-destroyer had gotten to. I sent a sheepish email to my editor asking if he could scan page 27 and email it to me. And for the rest of the day, I remembered to put my manuscript on top of the TV armoire whenever I needed to get up from the sofa.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Charlton Heston, child of divorce

From an article on the late actor's life in the Washington Post:

John Carter [the name Heston was born with] was born in Evanston, Ill., on Oct. 4, 1923. He spent his early childhood in St. Helen, Mich., where his father was a deputy sheriff.

In a memoir, he wrote that his parents' divorce when he was 9 was a wrenching surprise. He soon took his stepfather's surname, Heston, to hide what he considered the shame of the divorce. His professional name was a combination of that and his mother's maiden name, Lila Charlton.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Pre-orders available

My book, Child of Divorce, Child of God: A Journey of Hope and Healing, is now available for pre-ordering on Amazon.

The release date is September 1, but if delayed gratification doesn't bother you, go ahead and order now and you'll have your copy when it's hot off the presses.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

One teen's question

From the Detroit News:

(I haven't visited the site mentioned below yet, so I can't vouch for it.)

Bill Sears endured a childhood trauma that has been, and will be, faced by millions. He survived the death of his parents' marriage. He had to pick sides, counsel his parents, and learn how to interpret his feelings. Pretty heavy stuff for a little kid.

Now, nine years later, Bill is as close to an expert on these kinds of things as a 16-year-old can be. And he's willing to help anyone -- parent or kid -- he can.

A voracious reader and researcher, Bill studied divorce law to learn what rights children have. Just as important, he listened -- to friends at first, then to friends of friends, and now to just about anyone. He started billsarena.com, the self-described "Internet's Best Divorce Site for Kids by a Kid." It's a blog, a forum, and a news portal for information on parenting.

"I saw what I had gone through, and I didn't think it was right. No kid should go through this," Bill said. "It took a brutal emotional toll on me. I was 7 or 8 and they split. It was a metaphorical tug of war and I just want to say: Are you aware, parents?"

Monday, March 24, 2008

Mission Possible


Simon Baker (not the actor) on his book, How To Be A Great Divorced Dad:


"In the press all you hear about divorced dads is the sad man in the fast-food restaurant with his kids or the bloke trying to avoid maintenance payments but I think there is a huge number of men out there who have fantastic relationships with their children after divorce," he says. "I thought it was very important that men understood that that was possible." But the key here for Baker is the word "possible" - not "easy".


..."It shouldn't be a case of 'I'm free from my wife now so I'm going to go out and buy a guitar and the biggest stereo ever because now I can kick back'," he says. "What you should really be doing is buying a washing machine so your kids have got clean clothes for school."

Hillary's mom, child of divorce


From the Los Angeles Times:


She was only 8 years old.

Her mother had lost custody of her in a divorce. And her father was putting her and her 3-year-old sister on a train from Chicago to Los Angeles -- by themselves, without adult supervision. It took three days to reach their grandparents' home in the San Gabriel Valley. Once there, they would not be made to feel welcome.

The older girl, Dorothy Howell, now 88, is best known as Dorothy Rodham -- the mother of Hillary Rodham Clinton, the New York senator and Democratic presidential candidate.



(Photo from The Washington Post)

Monday, March 17, 2008

No way to tell


From a book review of Graham Swift's novel, Tomorrow:


The parents of 16-year-old twins plan to announce their divorce to the children -- tomorrow. Thus, much of the novel happens the night before, inside the mother's insomniacal mind. (This is not to betray any surprise -- the reader learns of the announcement on page 5.) And yes, Swift is writing from a female point of view.

The story, then, is of the night before tomorrow, as Paula, the wife and mother, replays her married life -- the full story which she would like to tell her children -- while her husband slumbers next to her. Of course, there is no way to tell the children of divorce the whole story, so a wistfulness falls over her recollections. Really, she is telling herself the story of her marriage, and this is the heart of the novel.


The New Yorker panned this novel (see Amazon's editorial reviews) and I'm not rushing out to read it. But I was intrigued by the reviewer's statement above that "of course, there is no way to tell the children of divorce the whole story." I'm sure that's true in the sense that there are things that happen between two people in a marriage--especially one that lasts 16+ years--that no one else is going to fully understand. And I would certainly agree that parents don't need to (and probably shouldn't) trot out every detail of their marriage's failures for their kids' inspection. Still, it troubles me--not that the novelist would depict the mother as feeling this way, but that the reviewer would accept it as absolute truth.

Then again, maybe it just struck me as a vivid contrast to the post I just did on the NPR "This I Believe" essay.

Truth be told

From one of NPR's "This I Believe" essays:

Adults always insist that children be honest, but how many of us are honest with our kids, particularly about the tough stuff: death, sex, corruption, our own failings?

I believe in telling children the truth. I believe this is vital for their understanding of the world, their confidence and the development of their morals and values.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Tips from a kid

Vanessa Van Petten has an article on her web site with 4 tips for parents to make life easier on children of divorce -- from someone who's been there:
  1. Get doubles of everything
  2. Make a launching pad
  3. Send out a memo
  4. Find other young people

Friday, March 07, 2008

Laugh on Friday

Here's a little tongue-in-cheek humor from the irreverent blog Stuff White People Like: #66 Divorce

Look at the sets of jobs below

Job Set A
marriage counselor
family therapist
lawyer

Job Set B
wedding planner
caterer
80s DJ
photographer
videographer

There is basically a large sector of white workers with arts majors, that would otherwise be unemployed were it not for the high rate of divorce. So just like the love of lawyers, getting divorced is a way to give back to the community. Not getting divorced would have same effect as pulling Shell out of Nigeria or call centers out of India. People would be on the street and a civil war would break out.

The list in Job Set A deals with the actual act of divorce. Married couples like to go to lawyers, counselors and therapist before, during, and after a marriage. There really is no need to pay $300 an hour to talk to someone who has read a lot of eastern European authors, but Hollywood has done a great job of popularizing this profession, and as mentioned above, there is a charitable aspect to this as well.

The list in Job Set B deals with weddings. First of all white people love throwing weddings, and if the first wedding did not go according to plan or if a close friend’s wedding had clever invitations, better desert or a samba band, then the act of the divorce serves as gateway to give it another shot. Secondly many white people in their late teens / early 20s make the mistake of taking film or photography in college. Since Hollywood can not employ everyone, the wedding industry is the one field that allows all these poor arts majors to pay for their rent and their first divorce later.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Protecting baby

From an article in the Washington Post:

Parenthood...is turning the "whatever" generation into hyper-vigilant homebodies.

"We're the first to be raised in day care in record numbers. Forty percent of us were latchkey kids. We were raised on television and Star Wars. We have an abiding fear of being left alone or feeling abandoned, so we will do anything to avoid recreating that in our own children's experience. We're ultra protective," said Susan Gregory Thomas, author of Buy Buy Baby, a book about baby-product marketing.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

File under "independence"

I write in my book (look for it in August!) that we children of divorce are an independent lot. Many of us had to take on adult responsibilities when we were kids, which led some of us to adopt a maturity and independence that was beyond our years.

Some things never change.

I needed a new filing cabinet at home, having outgrown the old two drawer I've had forever. So this afternoon, I headed to Office Depot and purchased a lovely ready-to-assemble light cherry four drawer filing cabinet, on sale no less. The furniture salesperson at the store used a dolly to wheel the box to the curb while I folded down the seats on my Jetta and pulled it to the front door. Admittedly, she was a bit heftier than I am, but she hoisted the box easily into my trunk and off I drove.

Arriving home, I realized the furniture lady must have a weight bench at home. There was no way I could even get the box out of the car, much less into the house and up to the second floor. No neighbors were home, so I closed the trunk and thought "Well, I can always get help later."

Then it occured to me: who said I had to carry the entire box into the house? Why, I could just open up one end and carry the pieces in a few at a time. Brilliant! Trying to corral all the bits of styrofoam that had cradled my new cabinet in its box, I slid all the drawers and side pieces and who knows what kinds of connectors out of the box, making trip after trip into the house where I piled them all onto the sofa. Where they now sit, until I get up the energy to carry them up to the second floor and into my office for assembly.

I had a few passing qualms about depriving someone of their spiritual gift of heavy lifting, but that didn't stop me. I am woman, see me carry a few pieces of pre-cut lumber at a time. All the while, though, I did roll my eyes at myself over the silliness of trying to do it all without any help. Independence can be good, but it can also be a mask for pride...and it can make our jobs a lot harder when we should be asking someone to help shoulder the burden we carry.

For now, I just need to clear off the sofa so I have a place to sit down.

Modern love

I was blessed today by this modern rendering of the Beatitudes from Jesus' Sermon on the Mount:

Blessed are you who are depressed, emotionally fragile, mentally exhausted-the whole creation, everything under God’s jurisdiction, has been given to you to delight in with your maker.

Blessed are you children of divorce, you who lost sons and daughters, fathers and mothers way too early…you who have cried until your eyes were bloodshot and your head throbbing-your comfort has come.

Blessed are you who have been compassionate, kind and gracious while everyone else around you is clamoring for power and money, stepping on you to get it…and you let it happen-God has honored your humility by giving you the world itself as a playground.

Blessed are you that have pushed back the plate, or had the plate taken from you; blessed are you who have doubled-over in ache for God…it is time to feast on His holiness and goodness until you can’t take anymore.

Blessed are you who have given too many extra chances, you who have forgiven the one who cut you the most deeply-only to be treated like hell all over again. Drink deeply of the grace of God, he has taken pleasure at your tenderness.

Blessed are you whose heart has still longed for God, even when you felt like a storm of anger and lust raged all around you-you have clung still to your vision of him. God knows you long for holiness…and his response is to let you see all of his colors and beauty with those war-torn eyes.

Blessed are you who [have] been in the middle of a fight and been smacked and punched, bruised and trampled yourself trying to bring peace into the middle of chaos, God calls you beloved sons and daughters.

Blessed are you who have had the people closest to you make fun of you for following Jesus, you who have been rejected by your own flesh and blood because of your love for God-you too are the recipients of God’s whole elegant creation, to rule and reign with him over it.

Every time you have been insulted, every time you have been tortured, every time you have been lied on and laughed about…it’s reason to break out the streamers and party hats, time to sit down for the best steak and the finest wine, your reward is exponentially greater than your suffering. Your name has been added to a prestigious list of prophets who experienced the same things, and you share in their reward!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Third time's a charm

I am a child of divorce. My mother married an abusive man, then left him when I was four. I never saw him again.

Mom remarried when I was six to the man I would call Dad, who adopted my brother and me. I barely remember the first father, and the second I idolized. He wanted me, adopted me, gave me his name.

But my adopted father was an attentive, angry, and intelligent man. His mood swings were intense, unsettling, and confusing. I never knew which personality I’d get on any given day, but it was normal for us.

Read the rest of the story and find out about the third Father this child of divorce found here.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Broken from the start

In an essay in Real Simple magazine (March 2008, page 79), Jennifer Baumgardner writes of the child she had with a man she did not marry:

Still, while I believe that this coparenting arrangement is best for everyone, Skuli, now three, might not agree. The other night, after a family dinner, Gordon was heading out the door when Skuli said, "I don't want Daddy to go. He should stay." Gordon's face crumpled, and I felt like a witch. As our son gets older, I am going to hear this more, I assume, as we take on more of the contours of a traditional broken home. I feel a pang of loss that we can't all hang out in bed Saturday mornings and read the paper. I get weepy when I see that Ford Freestyle commercial where the family has a fun day at the beach and then drops the dad off at his prefab divorce apartment. The tears well for a few reasons: the sadness of Skuli's having to say good-bye so often to one of his parents, but also the reassurance of knowing there are so many once-together parents who now have joint custody (and manage just fine) that Ford is marketing to them.

Seriously wrong ideas

When I was a kid, if I complained about my arm hurting (for example) for no good reason, my mom would jokingly say, "Let's cut it off, then." No, it wasn't child abuse--just sarcasm and a way to get me to have some perspective on a minor bump or scrape.

One could hope that the author of this piece were using the same tactic. Sadly, I think he was actually serious.

What of the children in a society that is moving inexorably toward consecutive plural marriages? Under present arrangements in which marriages are ostensibly lifetime contracts and then are dissolved through hypocritical collusions or messy battles in court, the children do suffer. Marriage and divorce turn lovers into enemies, and the child is left to thread his way through the emotional wreckage of his parents' lives. Financial support of the children, mere subsistence; is not really a problem in a society as affluent as ours. Enduring emotional support of children by loving, healthy, and friendly adults is a serious problem in America, and it is a desperately urgent problem in many families where divorce is unthinkable. If the bitter and poisonous denouement of divorce could be avoided by a frank acceptance of short-term marriages, both adults and children would benefit.


By the way, this was written in 1966. There's nothing new under the sun, as Solomon once said.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Release date

I'm smack in the middle of copyedits for the book, which are due later this week, so posting may be a little delayed. But wanted to share the good news that we have an official release date for the book: August 1. I've already seen one online bookstore that has it listed in their catalog. Put it on your reading list for that late summer beach trip!

Monday, January 28, 2008

One step removed...or not

Every divorce blog out there has been linking to this new study that says divorced people are less likely to be taken care of by their children as they age. I haven't linked to it because I had yet to see anyone saying anything that seemed particularly insightful...until now. Elizabeth Marquardt published an op-ed piece in yesterday's Washington Post on the supposed trend. Here's a short excerpt:

In his study, Temple University's Davey found that aging stepparents were only half as likely as biological parents to receive care from grown children. "Society does not yet have a clear set of expectations for stepchildren's responsibility," he observed.

You can say that again. All stepchildren and stepparents forge a relationship in their own way. Some become deeply attached, some are virtually strangers, many fall somewhere in between. Even when stepchildren and stepparents are close, the deep ambiguity of the relationship can make losing a stepparent to death or divorce a profoundly lonely experience for the child. A friend told me about a colleague who had recently nursed her beloved stepmother, a woman she had grown up with, during a long illness. Even as she mourned her stepmother's death, the woman was mystified and hurt by the lack of support she had received from many friends and co-workers, who'd wondered why she would go out of her way to provide long-term, hands-on care to someone who was "only" a stepmother.

Her story was all too familiar to me. When I was 13, my beloved stepfather took his own life. He and my mother had been divorced for several years, but from the time I was 3 years old until they separated when I was 9, he had been my in-the-home father, a man I'd fallen in love with not long after my mother had. His death was devastating for all of us, but my immense grief, which stretched through my teenage years and into my 20s, was made all the more lonely and isolating because almost no one around me -- friends, teachers, many members of my extended family -- recognized that I'd lost anyone of importance at all.


There are parents who leave, never to be heard from again, who are complete strangers to their natural children. I think we're usually apt to admire children who can overlook years of neglect to care for a parent who falls into this category. By the same token, as Marquardt points out, there are stepparents who hold as deep or deeper a relationship with their stepchildren than do the children's absent natural parent.

Some time ago, I blogged here about the different words we sometimes use to define step relationships. Those words often reveal the different levels of our connectedness to our family members. Until now, no one seemed to be considering this study in light of the varying degrees of connection that children have with their stepfamilies in particular.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Who has custody of his privacy?

Here's a twist on the old "competing worldviews" issue that children of divorce often face with their parents:

The Boldts began arguing over custody when their child was 4; custody eventually was granted to the father. Their dispute over circumcision began when the boy was 9, after James Boldt converted to Judaism and he wanted the child to be circumcised as part of the faith.

The father contends their son wants to be circumcised; the mother says the boy opposes it.


The family court judge has sent this one to trial court. I'm sure they'll resolve it somehow, but really, there has to be a better solution than one that subjects an almost teenage boy to having the entire world know about the status of his foreskin.

Friday, January 25, 2008

ACOD's on Oprah

Today's Oprah features adult children of divorce. A kind friend is TIVOing the episode for me. In the meantime, check out the online material at Oprah's web site.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Unveiling

Over the weekend, I got the cover art for the book. I really like it! As my friend Lori noted, it captures a sense of family as well as a hint of loss. Would love to hear your feedback!

February is Child of Divorce Month at the Movies

Thanks to Catherine for the tip about another new movie with a February release date featuring a child of divorce, Definitely, Maybe:
Ryan Reynolds stars as Will Hayes, a 30-something Manhattan dad in the midst of a divorce when his 10 year-old daughter, Maya (Abigail Breslin), starts to question him about his life before marriage. Maya wants to know absolutely everything about how her parents met and fell in love.

Apparently, what ensues is a movie version of How I Met Your Mother. Speaking of sitcoms, Ryan Reynolds, who plays the dad in this movie, also starred in one of my favorite now-defunct TV comedies, Two Guys, A Girl, and A Pizza Place.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Healing on film

Sorry for the long silence on the blog. The baby dog is indeed a baby with a teeny-tiny baby bladder that needs to be relieved several times each night still, although I swear I am watching him grow right before my eyes--I think he's doubled in size in the week and a half that I've had him! He's a cutie pie, but, boy, could I use a full night of uninterrupted sleep!

Catching up on my inbox, I saw a message about a limited-release Christian movie about divorce scheduled to hit select theaters the day after Valentine's Day. According to Christian Post, Me & You, Us, Forever "will look at the damaging reality of divorce on spouses, children, families and friends as it aims to put forth a message for the hurting that healing is possible." The film is billed as a love story, interrupted by thirty years. Looks interesting.

To see a list of theaters that are showing this movie, click here for the official movie web site. No one in Virginia is showing it yet, so if you happen to see it in your area, check in here and let us know what you thought.