Once or twice a year a student in my office informs me that his or her parents are getting divorced or going through serious marital issues. One student was overwhelmed by the gravity of her situation: After explaining that she knew her parents were glued together for the last few years by her, and that after leaving for college the glue began to crack, she asked me if the divorce was her fault.
Has this been your story, either as child or parent? If so, how can you help those of us who are called to counsel these young adults?
Children — and I say this to parents and to the students — need an emotional and physical base from which they launch into the world of college and then beyond that into their own homes. When that base falls apart, the children have difficulties both leaving and being away.
Some parents who are experiencing serious maritial tension seem to have the notion that when their children go to college those children will no longer need them. Not true — at least for most. It is very difficult for children in college — and younger and even older — to see their home base fall apart.
Many students have told me how difficult it is to go “home” to “two” homes instead of to one, and that they can no longer participate in their family traditions as they did as children. “It’s just not the same,” is a standard comment. “I wish it was,” is the heart-felt yearning.
I’m not sure what you say about such situations, but I often explain to students the following ideas:
First, they are not to blame for their parents’ divorce. They may have been glue, but the glue was created because their parents were experiencing problems.
Second, I try to get them to see that very rarely can they “fix” the problem by going back home. It seems important to me to explain that their parents’ problem is their parents’ problem — and not theirs.
Third, I do my best to listen to the kids who talk to me about such things. But, I realize each time that a hole has been created in their hearts and lives, and sometimes that hole will remain.
I feel sad when this happens for the child sitting in my office.
Parents … Maybe this can be a wake-up call for our marriages. Even adult and young adult children suffer when familes are broken.
A new principle for the blog: The Blogmeister has to weigh in on an issue. Some have recently been writing extensively long comments and even downloading lengthy quotations of Scripture when a reference to the text (e.g., 1 Cor 13) will do just fine. My problem is that many readers have written to me and said they are shut out of the conversation when someone writes in a 2000 word essay as a comment because they feel they can’t follow the thread enough to comment.
So, be warned: comments that are too long will be deleted. Keep to the point; keep it brief; be a conversationalist. Try to keep your comments to 3-5 short paragraphs; reasonable length; imagine how long you would talk when in a conversation. Give others a chance. Get to the point rather than expatiate on your point. We do a good job in how we behave; let’s also respect the thread so all can follow along.
Final point from the Blogmeister: each of your comments comes to me as an e-mail. I’d like to read each of your comments carefully, so thanks for making my job easier by sticking to the point and doing so with some brevity.