After the Split

"My parents are divorced. Separated from one another. Split, forever. But not the "forever" like their marriage. The real thing. All these years my vision has been blurred, distorting my reality in order for me to remain stable. My vision betrayed me: convinced me to believe my stability was reality. Only now, when I think about it too much (or perhaps just enough), I feel so immensely sad. The weight grabs me from the bottom-most coils of my stomach. . . . I can't rid myself of its heavy, dense burden and it forces me to travel where, for so many years, I have refused to venture."

These are the words of Chana Joffe-Walt, whose parents divorced when she was just six. Now, 10 years later, she speaks candidly in an essay published in Sara Shandler's book Ophelia Speaks, describing the pain she still feels.

Literature on the subject of divorce is rife with strategies for healing, overcoming the past, and putting the pieces back together. In reality, there is no 10-step formula that will mend every broken family. But there are principles that can make a difference. As in any tragedy, when divorce pulls a family apart, prayer is an essential and vital lifeline that can give you a hope for the future and victory over desperation.

Psychologist Judith Wallerstein, a renowned researcher on the effects of divorce, has spent the past 25 years tracking hundreds of children of divorce, chronicling their lives through adolescence to adulthood. Her study reveals that trauma experienced by young children when their parents' divorce lingers throughout their lives. "Unlike the adult experience, the child's suffering does not reach its peak at the breakup and then level off," says Wallerstein. "The effect of the parents' divorce is played and replayed throughout the first three decades of the children's lives."

Perhaps you and your children have endured such a painful experience. Or you may be facing a similar situation. Although the answers don't always come easy, there is hope. During the times when your most earnest efforts fail, you can always direct your children to a Father in heaven who will never forsake them.

Some children think prayer is a monologue where they do all the talking and God does all the listening. But, through prayer they have a tremendous opportunity to converse with and receive wisdom from a loving God who cares. Teach them to confide their pain in the Lord and to depend upon Him for support. An active prayer life is a very real source of strength.