Adult children of divorce: Time alone won’t heal childhood wounds


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Divorce has life long consequences. If a person was young when their parents divorced they have had to face processing several childhood milestones with only one parent. If they were older, such as a teenager, their parent’s divorce may have them questioning their entire value system.

Some research shows the younger a person is when the divorce happens, the more times they process it. Every time they experience a new developmental stage they reprocess the divorce. For preschoolers this will be when they start kindergarten. Again when they go from the early elementary years to the later grades. When they go into the teen years and begin dating, get married and have children will be other times they process the divorce of their parents.

If a person is older when their parents divorced then they may wonder if everything they are basing life decisions on is based on faulty thinking. It is as if the entire foundation of their belief system has a deep crack in it. They don’t know when that crack is going to split wide open and their entire life is going to collapse.

Adult children of divorce outcomes

  • Many have a well-rehearsed ability to hide emotions.
  • Divorce issues skew perspective and outlook on relationships and marriage.
  • They have trust issues.
  • They fear abandonment by their spouse.
  • Some have problems with self-confidence.
  • Forgiveness has not been modeled for them so many tend to hold grudges.
  • Pulling away from God.  As our society develops a deeper understanding of the long-term affect divorce has on the adults many researchers are finding adult children of divorce pulling away from the Lord in adult years. Some research shows that as many as 62% of  adult children of divorce leave the faith of their parents.
  • Some adult children of divorce are immature Christians frozen in spiritual time warp of where they were as children when the divorce happened.
  • Spiritually many children stop developing after the divorce, never to develop a faith walk or a level of trust that the Lord desires from each of us.
  • Many tend to carry over anger toward the earthy parent to their relationship with God, the Heavenly Father.
  • Many adult children of divorce can’t understand what a marriage relationship should look like.
  • Some divorced adults share that they undergo profound spiritual confusion.

If you or someone you know is struggling as an adult child of divorce, there is an excellent program called “Chained No More”. Slowly through this 13-week program you can learn to break the chains that hold you bound to your childhood.

Leaving the divorce legacy to the children

A few years ago on a very early Monday morning my husband and I began our day by sitting in court with a father while his wife, the mother of his children, was being arraigned. She was in our DivorceCare class and the father had her arrested for slashing his tires.

As we spent the morning together I asked him if he knew Jesus Christ as his Savior.

He surprised me by saying,

“Yes, I was saved when I was 11 years old.”

I asked him several more questions to make sure he understood. He did. I believe that he understood and that he was saved. But then he said something that struck a chord with me.

He said,

“We went to church a lot before I was saved. And then right after I got saved, my parents got a divorce. Within a year we just quit going to church. I know I should go to church now that I’m and adult and a father but I have never developed the habit of getting up every Sunday. I work hard during the week and I sleep in on Sunday mornings.”

This man is ending his second marriage. He is leaving the divorce legacy to his young children one of which was an infant. What is going to happen to his little girl when she grows up? What will she base her relationship on in regards to marriage, relationship with God and His family?

If you are an adult child of divorce what are some of the ways the divorce of your parents have influenced your adult life?


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2 thoughts on “Adult children of divorce: Time alone won’t heal childhood wounds

  1. My name is Robyn Besemann and I am indeed the developer and author of “Chained No More…A Journey of Healing for the Adult Children of Divorce”.

    The most significant thing we see in participants is that they define themselves by what they were told by flawed people or circumstances in their past. Childhood brokenness is usually the basis for the issues they struggle with as adults (anger, fear, depression, abandonment, lack of trust, broken relationships, etc.)

    Without the healing arms of Jesus, they carry those issues through their entire life and affect the next generation and….so the chains go on. Once they see where their true identity lies (in God’s view), mtey can begin to rise. A miraculous transformation!

    • Thanks so much Robyn for weighing in on the adult child of divorce. You know because you hear their stories. Linda

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