Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The kids made me do it

I really and truly love the people at DivorceCare. They have done so much to heal broken lives within the church and they have made the church a wonderful place of healing and hope for broken people in the community. I really just can't say enough wonderful things about them. Which is why I was so sad to see this pop up on one of the daily emails they send out:

"Children are the leading cause of second marriages coming to divorce," says Gary Richmond.

Mr. Richmond goes on to say:

"They see the stepparent as the enemy, and they strongly defend the missing parent in the home."

Now, to be fair, the entire rest of the email is focused on positive ways that parents can help their children adjust to a new stepparent, and it is good. But the first part of this quote by Mr. Richmond is rather stunning.

First of all, since when are we blaming children for the failure of their parents' marriages? Hey, I realize there are angelic kids (like me, natch) and then there are holy terrors. The post right before this one covered a marriage program by an organization focused on autism, and certainly parents dealing with disabled children face an added strain on their lives, including their marriages. Parents who lose a child to death often divorce. But, really, we're blaming the kids now? How about adults taking responsibility for their actions and their decisions? How about remembering who the grown ups are?

(And, again, to be fair, I think the whole context of the DivorceCare email does that, but yes, this one statement sets me off.)

Second, I'd like to see the statistics to back up Mr. Richmond's statement. And I'd like to see how those stats are being determined. Because parents are told over and over again to let their kids know that the divorce doesn't have to do with them, it has to do with Mommy and Daddy. And if that's the case, how are we sure that Mommy and Daddy have fixed their issues before hooking up with Stepmommy and Stepdaddy? If Mommy was Runaround Sue in her first marriage to Daddy, chances are she'll be the same way with Stepdaddy, and that sure isn't the fault of little Johnny or Jane, no matter how loyal they feel toward Daddy.

Now, my guess is that Mr. Richmond is instead extrapolating and interpreting data, skewing it to suit his purpose. Yes, I've seen the statistics that say second marriages are more likely to fail than first marriages, and when there are children from the first marriage, that likelihood rises. I don't dispute that. And no, it's not always like the Brady Bunch. It might be difficult and there may be days when Mom and Stepdad or Dad and Stepmom wish they could hang the little brats by their thumbs. But the kids can't march off to divorce court and dissolve the marriage. Only the people who made the vows can break the vows.

So, may I submit to you, my readers, that people filing for divorce are the leading (only) cause of second (any) marriages ending in divorce.

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