The lost generation? Saving today’s kids from the long-term effects of divorce




It is important for anyone living with or working with the child of divorce to understand the long-term legacies of divorce on children. As a single parent, grandparent, mentor or church leader, you can help an individual child to better cope and potentially even lessen the impact of a particular long-term legacy. Your input today may help lessen the severity of the impact in the future.

The Zander Story
Zander was an elementary age kid who wanted to join our praise team at the church where I played keyboard. He played loud, wanted to sing solos and imagined he was a rock star. He also missed a lot of practices.

As other members began to complain, I started inquiring about why he was missing rehearsals, arriving late for church and in general getting to know him personally.

Because his mom had remarried many thought he was growing up in a two-parent family.

Here are some particulars about him:

  • He lived with mom, step dad, birth sister and half sister.
  • His step dad had children that visited their house every other weekend.
  • He had to share his birth mom with stepsiblings, half sister and his birth sister.
  • He went to his birth dad’s every other Sunday and sometimes on Wednesday night – when we rehearsed
  • At birth dad’s there was a step mom and her children
  • His stepbrother was older and a big football star with one of the colleges
  • Zander felt like he couldn’t do anything to measure up to his dad’s expectations

I think because I took time to care and be interested in him, we developed a strong connection. To this day, years later, we are still friends on Facebook.

Some long-term legacies of divorce

  • An increased likelihood of divorce as an adult

Judith Wallerstein, in her book, “The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce” states that many adult children of divorce live in fear that they will replicate their parents’ history of divorce.”

One man shared with me, “My parents divorced after seventeen years of marriage. When my wife and I celebrated our 18th anniversary I literally felt myself breathe a big sigh of relief. I felt we had made it home free.”

  • Depression and anxiety

Many teens and adult children of divorce never get over the feeling of loneliness they experienced in their younger years. They experienced overwhelming sadness as children and depression as teens or adults.

Other adults feel a constant anxiety that something bad is going to happen to them or loved ones.

  • Anxiety about relationships

They worry that they won’t know how to form long lasting relationships. Many simply don’t know how to be married. No one taught them about marriage. No one taught them about resolving conflict with the person they love the most. 

  • Increased risk of suicide

Suicide in teens of divorce is very high. For a lot of teens suicide seems to be a plausible solution to their many problems.

  • Delinquency in teen years

Because teens don’t have the cognitive brain functions of an adult, they don’t have the ability to make wise decisions and choices. Some teens have too much unsupervised time on their hands.

  • Poor school Performance and high drop-out rates

Many teens struggle with school. As school becomes difficult and cumbersome they drop out.

  • Substance abuse

Reliance on a substance makes things seem easier and they think it helps dissipate the anger and hostility that has becomes a way of life.

  • Promiscuity and Unwed Teenage Pregnancy

A lot of young girls will turn to boys to fulfill the role of the father that they feel deserted them. Others watch the revolving bedroom door of one or both parents and wonder why they can’t do the same thing. No one takes the time to teach them about moral issues, about that one special love or about birth control.

  • Pulling away from the Lord in adult years

Many are immature Christians are frozen in spiritual time warp of where they were as children when the divorce happened.

It doesn’t have to be that way
Divorce doesn’t have to destroy a child’s future. We have many happy and healthy adults in our society today that have survived the divorce from childhood. Many have taken the trials from childhood and have used them to propel themselves into a better lifestyle.

We have church leaders, especially a lot children’s ministry leaders, who have made the decision to move forward and impact the Kingdom. We have doctors, lawyers, teachers, college professors, governing officials and many other successful adults who have survived.

What can you do to keep our society from losing another generation to divorce?


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  1. Pingback: DC4K » Question of the week: Does your children’s ministry mirror your community? WARNING – you may not like these numbers!

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