Approximately 50% of kids won’t live in an intact family as God designed it – won’t learn the lessons God intended that family to teach. [After looking at stats from lots of sources, the best data seems to suggest that 1 in 2 children will live in a single-parent home at some point in childhood. This post isn’t about debating that number; it’s about the fact that a number anywhere near 50% demonstrates a massive problem – and that problem affects a lot of children.]
Of the approximately 50% of children whose parents do not divorce, a much smaller percentage will have a functional intact family, and a far smaller percentage will actually be part of a healthy, happy family.
And children of divorce (and I am a part of this large population) can tell you all they want about how their parents’ divorce didn’t affect them because they were young when it happened or their parents were civil or everyone was happier this way. But the subtext of these statements is: I still haven’t processed this. I’ve never seen a positive example, so I don’t know what I’m missing. The lessons they’ve internalized to make this feel okay are: Love is an emotion, not an action. It’s okay to bail on a situation if it gets hard. These lessons are incredibly damaging – and are made more damaging by the fact that the kids don’t even recognize these lessons.
The new “normal” way to grow up is a travesty, and it’s eating an entire generation from the inside out.
Think about this: Of the adult couples a normal kid knows, how many have marriages that even manage to appear happy? How many marriages in this child’s world are shining examples of what God designed for marriage? Very few. Far more often, I hear kids talk about not wanting to get married because of how miserable marriage makes you or how your girlfriend will stop sleeping with you when she becomes your wife or how when you get married your attentive boyfriend will stop paying attention to you. These kids haven’t been married. They aren’t talking about their own experiences. They’re talking about the experiences they’ve seen in the marriages around them (and the marriages portrayed on TV and in movies).
Another caveat: We’re not taking the easy way out here: blaming the media. The media would have far less influence on our children if the terrible marriages they saw portrayed on TV were contradicted by what they saw in the marriages around them. But they aren’t. The terrible TV marriages confirm what the kids see in the world around them. Ultimately, we don’t have control over programming. We do have control over our own marriages.
Of course, most young people still do want to get married. The problem is actually sadder than that. Very often what I see in my students is, in a way, worse than not wanting to get married because of how awful all the marriages are around them. Instead what I see is a sense of resignation. The idea that they’ll “settle” like everyone around them has. His wife will nag, but she’ll cook and clean and sometimes the sex will be good. Her husband will be distant, but he’ll provide a comfortable enough living for the family of 4 she has her heart set on. The fact that young people have bought into the idea of settling in marriages should break our hearts. We, as the generation ahead of them, have been such a poor example that they don’t even realize there’s something more. Something much more amazing that God has in store for them.
Before the next post, think about the kids in your life (your own or just kids you’re close to): How many amazing marriages (marriages that don’t settle) do they see in the lives of the adults around them? How can you be a more visible example to the kids in your sphere of influence?
Read part three: (becoming) a role model, part three
Click here for part one: (becoming) a role model, part one
Want to read more?
Start of the fully submitted series: (becoming) fully submitted
Start of the wife series: (becoming) a godly wife
Start of the stewardship series: (becoming) a good steward
Start of the wisdom series: (becoming) wise, part one
Start of the Proverbs 6 series: (becoming) closer to God through Proverbs 6
Start of the Christmas series: (becoming) peaceful
Are you a worrier? Try this post: (becoming) less of a worrier