All of us experience suffering and pain in our lives. Life is full of those unexpected curveballs for which we are completely unprepared. Death and divorce are examples. Although not the same, they are both life-altering and (for a child) equally painful. There have been a multitude of studies on divorce. Most of them focus on the adults involved, and many others on the effects of the children. However, there are few studies that concentrate on the impact that divorce has on children who are now adults. This is surprising, especially if we consider the huge divorce rate over the past thirty years. There is plenty a sample population to pull from in our country alone.
The breakdown of marriage and family that began a few decades ago has produced many adults who are now full of conflicting values and emotions. As children, we are naturally loving and loyal to each parent. Yet after many years of living in a broken family situation, which involves years of turmoil and forced relationships, many adults are still in pain.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:(2384) “Divorce is a grave offense against the natural law.”
In our times, there are numerous “justifications” for divorce. Sins such as adultery, coveting, and contraception are deemed acceptable. There is no fear of the repercussions. There is no forethought into the future pain and complications that the children of divorce must endure for the rest of their lives.
Marriage is a Holy vocation. It should not be entered into capriciously. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: (1653)” Parents are the principal and first educators of their children. In this sense the fundamental task of marriage and family is to be at the service of life.”
The educators of the children! How can divorced parents properly educate their children if they are not a living example of that vocation themselves?
Children of divorce have a greater chance of being incarcerated, they have trouble concentrating in school, and they often have financial difficulties as adults. They often end up unintentionally perpetuating the legacy of parentless children, having multiple children with multiple partners and never really having a family experience. Worse, many have abortions. These adults are less likely to attend church, pray, or even get married.
I do not mean to imply that one should stay in an abusive relationship. This can be unhealthy and dangerous for those involved. However, by making better choices before we act, we may be able to discern any unsavory character qualities in potential spouses before we procreate with them. Any marriage requires work, but both partners must be morally competent to participate. These kind of qualities can only be fostered by morally competent people (parents).
To keeping marriage Holy, one must truly pray and be discerning in choosing a spouse. When children have a good, Godly example of marriage and parenthood, they are on the right path to a happy, healthy and Holy life.
Kersting, Erik. “The Effects of Divorce on Adult Children.” Pointer Online.http://www.uwsp.edu/pointeronline/pages/article
Catechism of the Catholic Church. 2nd Ed. 1997 Libereria Editrice Vaticana.