Broken Families?

I generally have an easy-going personality. I really do. It takes a lot to get me worked up – I usually have no problem letting comments slide right off my back.

But every time someone expresses surprise that my daughter is “doing so well … considering everything” I get this little urge to punch them in the face. The same goes double for the people who use the phrase “Broken family” to describe our family. Those people mean well – I know that they do. But comments like that make some pretty big – and quite negative – assumptions about my family.

Broken things need to be fixed. They are not the way they are intended to be. If something is broken, there is something inherently wrong. The same goes for the (very well intentioned) concern about how our daughter is “dealing with everything.”

Here is the bottom line: We are precisely the family that God has called us to be – and our daughter’s life is better for it. It is your idea of family is that is broken.

A couple of months ago, I showed up at my daughter’s school for a class party. There were not many parents there, so the kids gathered around me. My daughter was explaining her family to her friends, “This is my Dad. I have another Dad, too. And I have two Moms.” To which her friends properly responded: “You have two Dads? No fair!”

Children get it. Children are jealous of the child who is privileged to have two dads and two moms -- two bedrooms and FOUR sets of grandparents to spoil her. It is adults who have hang-ups, not the kids.

Not every divorce works out well. Many don’t – and that pain is very real and important. But I don’t think we can any longer assume that divorced parents are not parenting well together – working together for the well-being of the child. For many families – mine included – it can be the best solution.

And for the children in those situations it can be a real blessing. Four parents to surround you with love. Four parents to guide you and care for you. Just because there has been a divorce in our family does not mean that our family is broken.

How many children grow up in a home that is loveless and cold, because Mom & Dad are staying together “for the good of the kids”? How many children grow up feeling neglected and ignored by one of their parents? Regardless of marital status, those homes are broken.

What it means to be a family is changing in so many ways. So the next time you have a conversation with a divorced parent, stop and listen. Don’t jump to conclusions about how they relate to their co-parent and what it means for their child. Just listen.

Our family is not broken. In the last 3 years, our family has grown larger. In the last 3 years, it has grown to be more loving, and more caring. And I think that is not a cause for concern – it is a cause for rejoicing.

Can we – the church – rejoice with those who rejoice? 
Can we set aside our judgments, and celebrate love-filled families that look different than we expect?

1 comment:

  1. My daughters have often asserted that because we, their parents, divorced, they got the very best that both of us had to offer. Yet as one prepared for the ministry, and both prepared for marriage, church folk wanted to insist that they were not facing the "broken-ness" of their childhoods. Come on church, learn to look at children as individuals and stop searching for boxes to put them in! Let them be who they are, and don't expect them to be mirrors of their parents' marriages, divorces, sexual orientation, ethnicity, earning capacity, professions, educational levels or attractiveness. And don't double whammy the preacher's kid!

    ReplyDelete