The screaming was so loud she wanted to hide. Her hair flew behind her as she raced down the hall and burrowed under the covers on her bed. It didn't stop the noise. All she could think of was how to make it stop and she knew she needed to create a distraction and at eight year's old, her options were limited. She began to cough and she coughed until she forced herself to vomit just to stop the screaming and the repeated use of the word divorce. Finally, as she too began screaming, alerting her parents that she was sick, the voices stopped. The attention shifted and her father came to her side. Amidst the tears and mess she was sitting in, she begged her Dad to put aside talks of divorce. His response left her feeling worse than before, no reassurances, just an indifferent shrug, a non-verbal signal that even an eight-year-old knew meant he'd lost hope for his marriage.
I'm blessed to share a time of prayer with 7 eight-year-old girls each week.
I've been meeting with these girls for 3 months now and I'm used to the typical prayer requests, a neighbor's hamster was attacked by their dog, a cat ran away, even a very sick grandma. The requests are a window into the hearts of these sweet girls who are beginning to experience some tougher life issues.
Each week that we are together tightens our bond and just as I see among my teen girls, they become more willing to let me in. Yesterday the dam broke and a few of them shared the heartache of divorce through a child's eyes.
The stories bubbled to the surface peppered with shaky voices and averted eye contact. Even at their young age, the girls who had experienced divorce were the first to comfort those that revealed their fears. One revealed the pain of a custody arrangement and another loosened her grip on her
anxiety over her parents constant arguing. The girls who had never experienced these issues were oblivious to the hurt the others were revealing, a perfect reflection of their own innocence. Perhaps their parents don't argue, perhaps they live with a single parent already, perhaps they balance other issues that force them to grow up quickly also. We are all faced to maneuver some type of struggle in our lives...some of us earlier than others.
If you are a child of divorce, I'm sorry. It hurts and there is always a struggle to balance the what-ifs with what might have been. If you are considering a divorce and the options seem limited in your life, please don't assume your child is oblivious to what's happening in the other room. Cartoons can't drown out screaming and buying them gifts builds nothing but suspicion. If divorce is inevitable, and all counseling options have been exhausted, talk to your child. Secrecy breeds fear and to a child who is afraid, life's problems seem insurmountable.
Not every marriage is able to be 'happily ever after' but our kids deserve a love of a lifetime from two parents who adore them and put their needs above their own when necessary.