November 15, 2012
From The Desk of Carol Soelberg:
When one considers the factors that have contributed to the on-going effort to dismantle traditional marriage, there are many “culprits” to consider. Not the least of which is the 1970’s advent of so-called “no-fault divorce.” Add to that the normalization and now validation of pre-marital sex and unwed childbearing, the widespread acceptance of non-married couples living together (cohabitation), and this last 15 years we have witnessed the relentless push of gay activists to put in place same-sex marriage. Yes, both heterosexuals and homosexuals share responsibility and have contributed to the toxic mix.
I, like many of you, have witnessed the heartache and long-term disruption and disadvantage that enter our children’s lives when marriages fail to form or aren’t properly considered, nurtured, and maintained. To say that divorce “flips a child’s world upside down” is, sadly, a huge understatement. Today we want to touch on a couple of things: 1) How we impact our children when our marriages break down. 2) A perspective on the future of traditional marriage vs. same-sex marriage.
For the first topic, we share with you research and insights from two young adults who are focused on pro-family advocacy and policy. As you read through their article below, consider how you can make your own marriage better and how you can help those who might be struggling with theirs. We also recommend that you go to the UFI website (here) and see more detailed analysis and research on divorce – especially if you or someone else you know is considering it.
They’ve won a battle, but definitely not the war
Much has been made about the past election and a popular vote that legalized same-sex “marriage” in three states. To hear gay activists, advocates, and pundits tell it you would assume that same-sex marriage was on the brink of being legalized around the world! But a little perspective is in order.
First off, Minnesota – one of the four states with ballot initiatives on same-sex marriage – did not legalize same-sex marriage. In fact, Minnesota has a statutory law precluding same-sex marriage. However, this time around citizens were not successful in their bid to encode the traditional definition of marriage into their state constitution. This is something that happened one time before – in the state of Arizona. However, two years later the state of Arizona repeated the amendment process and now has a state constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman.
On election day 2012, three states -Washington, Maryland, and Maine -did legalize same-sex “marriage” via popular vote. This is the first time in the U.S. that citizens of any state have voted for legalization. There is no denying that proponents of same-sex “marriage,” scored a significant victory, but has the tide unalterably turned in their favor? We think not and submit that their enthusiasm should be tempered by these facts:
* Pro-traditional marriage forces were outspent by more than four to one.
* The three states, Washington, Maryland, Maine, are all very liberal states –“very blue” as they say.
* The margins of victory in these states were relatively small – indicating not a huge ground swell of support for same-sex marriage and behavior. As The Heritage Foundation has pointed out, the percentage of voter support for traditional marriage significantly outpaced voter support for the conservative presidential ticket.
* Thirty-one U.S. States have constitutional amendments defining marriage as between a man and a woman. (We include Hawaii in this list, recognizing their amendment includes a legislative component).
* Twenty of the 31 states have amendments that additionally ban civil unions or domestic partnerships.
* In addition to the 31 amendment states, eight states have statutory bans on same-sex marriage.
Read those last three bullet points again! They are important.
The vast majority of the U.S. has already voted to support and protect traditional marriage. Aside from the nine states that now have legalized same-sex marriage (only in three did citizens actually vote in favor of legalization), just three states remain that have do not have an amendment or statutory law prohibiting same-sex “marriage.” (See the chart below). Please do not be disheartened and certainly don’t buy the media spin that same-sex marriage is now a done deal.
Pro-family/pro-marriage advocates in the U.S. have built a huge firewall that we now need to support and protect. We also need to reach out and work to put in place protections for the remaining states that are vulnerable. There is much to be done and rest assured that gay activists -emboldened and invigorated by their recent success – already have their strategy in place and are moving forward. But people who support and love traditional marriage and family move forward too!
We are saddened for the states that have had same-sex marriage forced upon them by the courts and want to point out that the biggest concern for all should be the recognition that activist courts might now use the recent same-sex marriage victories as an excuse to conclude that the citizens of the U.S. now want same-sex marriage legalized throughout the country.
While we don’t have a direct voice to the judges who wield control in these decisions, we can certainly exercise influence on them by supporting pro-family political leaders and by promoting traditional marriage. Over and over again, we have witnessed the strength and success of a few brave and relentless advocates. We invite you to BE that advocate in your community. We can show you how and help you make sure your vocal support for marriage is strong in your area. We invite you to join us in this critical effort.
Divorce: A Child’s World Flipped Upside Down
by Mikaela Ferry & Jessica Sattler
My roommate’s story of divorce
I distinctly remember the day when my roommate told me about her parents. She had just received a phone call from one of her parents, who had divorced, and was very upset about the conversation that had taken place. She broke down crying and told me that her parents had just had another fight and wanted her opinion, in other words, to take sides.
I remember her saying that she didn’t want to be a part of her parent’s divorce anymore. She was six when her parents divorced and that action had impacted her life ever since. Once, while watching the movie Mrs. Doubtfire, she told me that her mom had just given her up without a fight. My roommate felt abandoned, had trust issues, worried about maintaining a relationship and developed an anxiety disorder as a result of her parents’ divorce.
My roommate’s experience is just one out of the millions that have experienced divorce. More than one million children in the U.S. experience parental divorce every year.(1) About forty percent of all children will experience parental divorce before reaching adulthood.(2) Demographers estimate that about one half of first marriages initiated in recent years will be voluntarily dissolved.(3) In other words, about fifty percent of first marriages will end up in divorce, negatively affecting the lives of family members.
This recent increase is detrimental to society and individuals because of the negative, long-term effects that divorce has upon families and children. Children who are raised in divorced or remarried families grow up to adulthood in a different culture from the child raised in an intact family. The scarring effects of parental divorce persist and can set in motion a chain of indirect, stressful reactions and circumstances that affect an individual later in life. An indicator of such stress in childhood is that its influence persists well into adulthood.
The forms of psychological adjustment resulting from parental divorce.
The number of negative life events to which children are exposed is a consistent predictor of their ability to adjust. “With regard to cognition, children who place some of the blame for the divorce on themselves tend to be more poorly adjusted”.(4) In addition to self-blame, the study found that children’s perceived lack of control over events mediated some of the impact of the divorce-related stress on adjustment. This means that a child, who experiences the divorce of their parents, feels helpless. This inability to control what’s going on around them is scary and they don’t know how to handle it. Their new need to adjust to having two bedrooms, two houses, and single parents isn’t smooth. Some children have a sudden desire to control everything around them and begin to feel frustrated and angry when something comes up that they can’t control.
Developing interpersonal relationships are affected by parental divorce
Some long-term interpersonal problems are trust, fear, or a struggle with long-term commitments. A twenty-five year study by Dr. Wallerstein portrayed how parental divorce developed interpersonal problems. One of the people that she interviewed explained how divorce had an effect on her life.
“Today, I still find myself thinking a lot about my folks’ divorce. I can never escape the part of my past, as it shapes so many of my beliefs and reactions to the world today.”(5)
Some had the pessimistic view that “If you don’t marry then you don’t divorce.”(6) Being disappointed by the two most important people (their parents) in a child’s life may lead them to have ongoing trust issues with others.
Economic hardship and academic achievement of children of divorce
Economic hardship and academic achievement seemed to be interconnected when measuring the negative impact of divorce.(7) A decline in economic resources might cause disruptive events such as moving to poorer neighborhoods, changing schools, and living on a smaller household income. Divorce rates are higher among those with lower levels of household income, lower educational attainment, and those living in rented accommodations.(8) As a result of divorce, such changes and instability in a child’s life during a time already marked with ongoing uncertainty potentially upsets a child’s ability to learn.
Divorce can cause children to feel that he or she is losing everything they considered familiar and safe. Adults who were impacted by divorce had lower rates of university education and higher rates of unemployment.(9) A possible reason for this could be that economic hardship due to parental divorce may lead some children to abandon plans to attend college, resulting in lower occupational attainment and wages throughout adulthood. Once a child loses the support of one parent, it is harder to gain an education, thus causing a downward spiral.
If the marital relationship has a lower level or frequency of conflict, then divorce can be avoided altogether. It is a goal that should be strived for – for the sake of the couple as well as the child. In many cases, parents can resolve their problems and even come out with a stronger relationship through counseling, therapy and a commitment to work out problems. No child should have to experience depression, abandonment, interpersonal hardships or adjustment conflicts because of their parents’ decision to divorce. Divorce should be a last resort.
Work it out rather than divorce.
After researching, we have come to the conclusion that it is better for parents to stay together rather than divorce. Much heartache and stress could be eliminated if divorce was avoided and parents worked together for a common solution to life’s problems. Divorce teaches children that relationships cannot last and that the only solution is to dissolve them quickly and completely.
Divorce is not a single event, but a multistage process which radically changes family life and relationships. As a family, we want to keep those relationships together. Divorce separates the interests of children from the interests of their parents and children are its first victims. Please consider the needs of your children first!
1. U.S. Bureau of the Census (1998). Statistical abstract of the United States (118th ed.).Washington D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office. US Bureau of the Census, 1998, Table 160).
2. Amato, P. (2000). The consequences of divorce for adults and children. Journal of Marriage and Family, 62, pg. 1269.
3. Ibid, pg. 1269
4. Ibid, pg. 2081
5. Wallerstein, J. S. (2005). Growing up in the divorced family. Clinical Social Work Journal, 33, pg. 402.
6. Ibid, pg. 411
7. Amato, 2000
8. Strohschein, L. (2005). Parental divorce and child mental health trajectories. Journal of Marriage and Family, 67, pg. 1287.
9. Huurre, T., et al. (2006). Long-term psychological effects of parental divorce. Eur Arch, Psychiatry Clin Neurosc, pg. 259.
Mikaela Ferry, BYU-I student
Jessica Sattler, BYU-I student