Issues and Answers

Decreasing The Risks To Children During Divorce

Three Angels Broadcasting Network

Program transcript

Participants: Shelley Quinn (Host), Richard D'Avanzo


Series Code: IAA

Program Code: IAA000223

00:29 Hi, I'm Shelley Quinn,
00:30 and welcome again to Issues and Answers.
00:32 You know, the Bible says in Proverbs 3:5-6:
00:36 Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
00:38 and lean not on your own understanding.
00:40 In all your ways acknowledge him,
00:43 and he will direct your paths.
00:45 Well, today we're going to see how we can take that advice
00:49 and actually apply it to very, very difficult situation.
00:54 And that is for any parent who is going through a divorce
00:58 and they have children who are suffering the consequences.
01:02 We have back with us again, a returned guest.
01:05 And that's Dr. Richard D'Avanzo.
01:07 Well, thank you. Dr. Richard,
01:09 so glad you're back here. Thank you.
01:10 Now, you are a Christian psychologist.
01:13 And councilor, you're a professor
01:16 at the Florida Christian University.
01:19 Right. In.. Florida, in where? Orlando.
01:22 Orlando, Florida and you've written a book
01:25 by the title of "When the Vow Breaks."
01:28 And finding hope, healing
01:30 and forgiveness, when the marriage ends.
01:32 We're gonna be talking about something that
01:35 you've gone through personally. Yeah.
01:37 You were 61 yrs old, when your wife of 35 years
01:41 came to you and said what? It's all over.
01:44 It's all over? Yeah.
01:46 And your children were grown at that time.
01:48 Yes, they were 18 and then the rest of them,
01:52 three of them were in their 20's and one was 18.
01:55 Now, for those who haven't heard you before,
01:58 you have a biological son
02:00 and three adopted children. Correct.
02:03 Even though they were grown, how did this affect them?
02:07 Well, they were refugee children,
02:09 one from Vietnam and two from Cambodia.
02:12 And you know, they had lost their parents
02:15 and now that the grief was
02:17 that they were losing a second time.
02:20 They were losing the family unit,
02:21 but you don't have to be a refugee child, do you?
02:24 No, no, no, any child is going to really feel the pain in that.
02:30 And different children express it different ways,
02:34 sometimes you never know until many years later.
02:38 So, today I'm happy we're gonna be talking about
02:41 some of those things that can reduce the effects of divorce.
02:44 Amen, amen. Now, when a child,
02:50 particularly in the younger years it seems,
02:52 how does this affect a child, when they go through a divorce.
02:55 What are some of the negative effects
02:57 that children can have from the divorce procedure?
03:00 Well, you know when they're very young,
03:03 you know perhaps younger than before their teens.
03:07 They probably will think that they caused the divorce.
03:11 You know, it's very frequent
03:13 that they will think that they did something
03:15 that caused mommy and daddy to separate.
03:19 And that guilt is, it just weighs heavily upon them.
03:23 And when they get into their teens and beyond,
03:26 they sort of, well they know
03:29 what parent had the bigger part to play in that.
03:34 And they sometimes suffer from that
03:41 in different ways and some go and into
03:45 early drinking and drugs and sex
03:53 and negative life behaviors to bury the pain.
03:59 Children who are going through a divorce,
04:01 no matter what their age,
04:02 they are at risk for emotional problems, behavioral problems.
04:06 And what we're going to be focusing on today
04:08 is how to decrease the risk for children who are going
04:13 through a divorce and immediately afterward.
04:16 Now, in your book, I've got some points written out
04:18 that I thought we just, I'll just talk about
04:21 what you said let you expand on it. Okay.
04:23 In the book you said that it's critically important
04:26 to set aside time each day for God, why?
04:32 Well, you know, a parent going through
04:35 this kind of situation is awesome,
04:39 it's painful and they're so wrapped up in their own emotion,
04:43 in their trauma of the divorce
04:45 that sometimes they can't even think straight.
04:49 And they sometimes even forget
04:51 that the children are going through a lot.
04:54 And so we need an abundant
04:56 amount of strength beyond ourselves
04:59 and so by focusing upon our relationship with God,
05:03 seeking God to carry me through this divorce
05:07 and my children is going to be very vital.
05:11 And that means, I've got to spend time
05:12 on my knees before God, more than once every day.
05:18 Because I've to ask and know that God's
05:21 gonna give me that kind of strength and wisdom.
05:24 And the guidance. Yes.
05:26 Leading you, that's good. He will guide, He will council.
05:29 That's good. He's a wonderful councilor.
05:30 Yes, He is.
05:32 Okay, the second point you made was spend time in intimate
05:37 bonding with your children day, daily.
05:39 Yes. Excuse me.
05:41 You know that's so important
05:43 and that's spending time, quality time.
05:46 You know, you want to take some time out.
05:48 I just say, you had three children,
05:51 you know it's good to spend time as a family,
05:53 all three children, but it's very important
05:55 as frequent as possible, to take one child and say
06:00 come on Johnny, let's you and I go out and get an ice-cream.
06:04 And you bond together with him
06:06 or another child likes the bike ride, let's go out biking.
06:10 You know, you got to spend intimate one on one,
06:13 eyeball to eyeball time with that child.
06:15 Because that child needs to feel that security,
06:19 that well my other parent left and are you gonna leave?
06:23 Right. And you said no,
06:25 I'm here, I'll never forsake you.
06:28 Because that's what you're hearing from the Lord,
06:30 because you're bonding with the Lord.
06:32 And you're hearing the Lord say I'll never forsake you,
06:35 and you can pass it on. Amen.
06:36 Because we're gonna be carried through this.
06:39 Now, you know it seems to me the parent
06:41 who has custody this would be easy but how does,
06:44 what does the parent who does not have custody
06:47 how do you maintain that daily contact?
06:50 Well, it can't be daily other than maybe by phone, right.
06:54 And we're gonna discuss some of those points.
06:56 Oh, good. Little later. Okay.
06:57 Because that is the vital. All right.
06:59 Now, your third point, learn to enjoy your children
07:03 give them a lots of attention, affirmation
07:06 and physical reassurance and hugs.
07:08 Yeah, you know some children
07:10 need more than others, but all children need it.
07:14 And that needs physical touch, hugs, affirmation, I love you.
07:19 You know, sometimes we're so rot with so many emotional pains
07:24 that we only can see everything through negative glasses.
07:27 And so we see what they're doing wrong
07:29 or they're not doing right.
07:30 No, that's why we need the strength of the Lord.
07:33 Amen. Lord you come in me with your love
07:37 and let me flow to my children and enjoy my children.
07:42 In other words do things laugh together, have fun together.
07:48 Okay, good doctor I don't want to throw you furlough,
07:50 but let me ask you this question.
07:52 What about those children who are resentful
07:55 because of the divorce and they're mad
07:57 and they're angry at the, say the mother has the custody
08:00 and they're angry, they're blaming her?
08:03 How does a mother reach out to that child to embrace them,
08:07 if they don't want that physical contact, what would you do then?
08:10 Well, you know you have to realize
08:11 that the child is probably striking out at the
08:15 custodial parent because they're more convenient to do it.
08:18 But and then hard parts he doesn't really
08:21 or she doesn't really mean that.
08:23 You know, at the whole issue of separation,
08:28 the unity of the family, every child wants that unity.
08:33 And some let make a known more than others
08:35 and some acting bad behavior, or some acting bad behaviors,
08:38 some acting and you know, he's older,
08:41 very quiet about it, you don't hear a thing.
08:44 But all of them are affected and so only by love,
08:48 the love that God gives to us, can we penetrate through that.
08:53 We have to learn, I'll mention it again later
08:55 because it's so important.
08:56 Don't major in the minors, okay.
09:01 In other words, major in the majors the real big things,
09:04 the important things, just because
09:06 or maybe he didn't do this little thing.
09:09 Don't worry about it; don't make a big thing out of it.
09:12 Because everything become like, and minors could become majors.
09:15 Would it be wise council if a parent is experiencing
09:20 that rejection from their children,
09:22 the custodial parent is experiencing that rejection.
09:26 Would it be wise council to say
09:27 don't take their acting out personally?
09:30 Yes, don't take it seriously,
09:33 just don't major in it, let's put it that way.
09:35 Okay. You know,
09:36 go on and try to find alternative things of,
09:39 what they like to do, come on, the child likes to go hiking.
09:44 Come on you and I are going, oh! I don't want to go hiking,
09:46 oh! I don't want. Well, we're gonna go hiking,
09:49 once they get out there, they're gonna enjoy it.
09:52 And you keep doing, you may have to work at it.
09:53 The child has been wounded very badly and he has not...
09:58 or she has nothing to do with that
10:00 didn't cause it or anything.
10:02 Now, if they're young, they sometimes think they did,
10:04 so you have to reassure them. When, the time is appropriate.
10:09 Boy, no wonder a parent needs to spend so much time
10:11 on their knees before the Lord. Yes, yes.
10:13 Okay, you make another point.
10:15 Set reasonable limits and boundaries,
10:18 because it helps your children feel secure.
10:20 Yes, yes. You know sometimes
10:22 we feel so guilty because you know we've,
10:24 the families all their and we let them do everything or if
10:28 and you're non custodian, you're bringing
10:29 all kinds of gifts and promises or we're gonna go to Disney
10:33 and we're gonna do this and we're gonna.
10:35 You can't keep half of those promises, not good.
10:40 So, you got to be bonding to those kids
10:43 in positive ways and fulfill your word.
10:47 And when you say set reasonable limits and boundaries,
10:50 how about on their acting out, how much of that do you accept?
10:53 You have to set a limit, okay I mention you,
10:57 and you don't have the minors okay.
10:59 But they are certain limits;
11:00 children will test those limits more than ever.
11:03 Every child does, but more than ever,
11:05 because he wants to know or she wants to know.
11:08 You know, is mom still in control here.
11:12 Because as nothing worse than the child being control.
11:14 Amen. See and soon or later
11:17 as we talk about later and as we've talked about
11:19 the point number one is that mom is
11:22 letting that child knows that God is in control.
11:25 Because God is love and I'm gonna love you.
11:28 Amen. Well, regardless of how you act.
11:31 I see, you know I don't, I don't.
11:36 You did something wrong here, this is not right
11:38 but I still love you. Amen.
11:39 And I have start to reprimand you and give you a hug.
11:43 Now, you got to have the grace of God behind you,
11:45 because you're all depleted,
11:46 you're emotional, you drained yourself.
11:49 You need the strength of God, but God will give it to you.
11:53 He promises, yes. That is Corinthians 12:9:
11:56 "That His grace is sufficient, that His
11:58 power is made perfect in your weakness."
12:00 Okay, a fifth point is to offer brief prayers at meal times
12:05 and bed time allowing God to be a constant
12:08 gentle reassuring presence in their lives.
12:10 Yes, yes. It's very important
12:12 but don't make these long winded prayers and everything,
12:16 make it short and make it sweet, make it simple.
12:19 But make sure that you know
12:23 depending upon the age of the child;
12:25 you want to be sure of that you somehow
12:28 begin to foster the idea that maybe they might pray too.
12:32 See and so, you make it so sweet and short that,
12:38 oh! Johnny you could do that now you know,
12:40 wouldn't that be wonderful God, God will be so pleased
12:43 and I think you like that.
12:46 So, you look for the right timing
12:48 and in the beginning it may not be that way,
12:50 but at least the child knows that you're connected to God
12:54 and God is security.
12:57 And you gain security,
12:58 so if mom is gaining security from God, maybe I can too.
13:04 Okay, you say to pray for the other parent too,
13:07 it is vital for your children's healing
13:10 that your children know especially by example
13:12 how important God is to you?
13:14 They need to witness you trust in God to carry you on
13:17 and then through this different, difficult time.
13:19 Yes, yes, especially the parent, that's the non custodial parent.
13:24 You know, that parent will always be that child's parent,
13:28 he can never divorce that parent.
13:31 And so, that child has a bond to that other person
13:36 and so they're just hurt terribly
13:39 when if the mom is the custodial,
13:42 she has bitterness and she says bad things
13:46 you know criticizes and so forth.
13:48 But if she prays you know, help dad to find that job
13:55 or to overcome this problem of addiction or whatever,
14:00 because God loves him and we love him.
14:05 That sounds good.... Boy, I tell you that heal
14:06 a child and that child loves to hear that
14:09 and maybe shock to hear in the beginning.
14:11 Because in the very beginning, you may not have done that.
14:13 You know, but you can start anytime.
14:16 What a witness to your children? The sooner the better.
14:18 Yes. You say show your children
14:21 by example that we need to treat everyone lovingly
14:24 and kindly no matter how they treat us in return.
14:28 Yes and of course starting with parent
14:31 that's left is a fantastic way to start, because you start.
14:37 See the children, you can preach them,
14:38 will you got to nice to everyone,
14:40 people won't hurt you and all of that.
14:41 But I want to see it in you, mom.
14:43 Right. I want to see in you, dad.
14:46 And so the custodial father or mother
14:49 regardless of which one is which,
14:50 non custodial or custodial, this goes for both. Amen.
14:57 Another point you made is resolve your hostilities
15:00 and resentments toward your former spouse.
15:03 You know, if you miss last program
15:04 we talked about forgiveness and what it is and what it isn't.
15:09 The bottom-line is it's a choice;
15:10 it's not negotiable for Christians.
15:12 Yes. We've got to forgive,
15:14 but this is so critical, this resolution of your hostilities
15:19 and forgiveness is a step really that you must go through
15:24 to be able to do anything that we're talking about today.
15:27 Yes. That has to be there and just to reiterate
15:30 what we said last time you won't feel like forgiving.
15:32 Right. Okay, so this is something
15:35 that you're gonna do, because God wants me to do it,
15:37 because God loves me with an everlasting love
15:40 and He wants the best for us. Right.
15:43 See and that's what opens the flood gates for God
15:46 to pour his goodness and the strength because you know,
15:48 my weakness is strength comes in.
15:53 And you know, it occurs to me as we're talking
15:56 that if a parent is say let she is the mother in this example.
16:01 If the mother is the custodial parent
16:03 and she is able to forgive the father,
16:06 then she is going to help facilitate
16:09 forgiveness for her children for their father.
16:11 And then you know, we discussed last time
16:14 that when we have bitterness or unforgiveness in our heart
16:18 that it will get into a route of bitterness and resentment
16:22 and that just blocks off the flow of God's life in us.
16:26 So, by the parent making this step to forgive,
16:30 then really you're opening the way for
16:33 the flood gate of God's love to just bathe your child as well.
16:37 Right and this is a process, it doesn't happen in one time,
16:40 it's a process you keep on working
16:42 toward it and you will get better.
16:44 Enjoy your children; love your children,
16:47 no matter what they do, what they don't do.
16:49 I'm gonna standby, I never will leave you.
16:52 Amen, amen. Okay, maintain as much
16:56 of the pre-divorce family routine as you can.
16:59 Yes, you know I mean if you're having dinner at a certain time.
17:02 If you're doing a certain chores at a certain time,
17:05 you're doing certain activities,
17:07 try to keep that as normal especially in the beginning.
17:10 Because there's enough disruption
17:12 without the other parent there
17:14 and so you just keep some of the same thing,
17:17 it keeps the family a little stable
17:19 or more stable, much more stable.
17:21 So, that's important keep this, try to keep the same routines,
17:26 and also by the same time, you want to begin to
17:28 develop some new traditions. And that's good.
17:32 Yeah, see some new things, so that the family continues
17:36 to grow and God will bless you and help you.
17:40 That's good; if possible continue the primary residence
17:45 for at least the short term like the reminder of the school year.
17:48 Yes, yes. You know, lots of times you're
17:50 so emotionally rot, what he did was just
17:55 female and she, what he did, we're up and out of here,
17:58 we're getting out of here, we're not staying around.
18:01 You know, you know you may feel
18:03 that emotion and that's understandable,
18:06 but don't go with it.
18:08 Because that hurts the child, he's got enough,
18:11 she's got enough disruption already,
18:14 that mommy or daddy isn't around anymore.
18:19 Stay there let him finish the school year;
18:21 try to keep everything as stable as possible.
18:24 Okay, now what if the child is, say in college,
18:28 what if the child is married already themselves,
18:31 how does that affect them?
18:33 Well, it's not as important obviously,
18:35 you know I'm thinking more of the younger child
18:38 who is in school up to 12th grade or living at home.
18:41 Okay. Try to maintain
18:44 the extras of life such as sports and music lessons.
18:48 Yeah, that goes along with this,
18:50 what we just said keep the same routine,
18:55 keep as little disruption as possible in the family.
18:59 And you know, sometimes it's hard,
19:01 I mean you know funds aren't there
19:04 and so we maybe can't do music lessons
19:06 and maybe the child is very talented.
19:09 You maybe able to work something out with
19:12 a music teacher and say look you know,
19:15 I'll take care of your kids in exchange for you
19:18 giving Mary some music lessons.
19:22 You know there are ways that you can barter those things,
19:24 but try to keep them going. And if you happen to be the
19:27 non-custodial parent, who's supplying the funds,
19:30 dig into your pocket a little deeper,
19:33 those kids deserves it. That's good.
19:36 Okay, you also mentioned in your book
19:39 and we're speaking about the book
19:40 "When the Vow Breaks" visitations to the
19:44 non-custodial parent are important.
19:46 The more the contact the child has with both parents,
19:49 the lower the negative risks of divorce upon the child.
19:52 Yes, that is very vital, you see many times
19:56 you know mom is sitting there and she said,
20:00 he'll never see you again, you know,
20:02 I mean that's the way she feels, you know.
20:05 You know... but you don't hurt him, you hurt that child.
20:11 That child needs more contact, and the more contact
20:15 that child has with the other non-custodial parent.
20:19 The less likely they're going to have in getting into early sex,
20:23 early drugs, early alcohol and addictions of various kinds.
20:28 Poor academic success,
20:32 all the things that couple in there.
20:34 So, by you doing these things, you lower that risk.
20:38 I see, and of course if that child
20:41 or if that parent was abusive in any way,
20:44 and they were... Well, that's a different story,
20:46 yes, if they're harm;
20:48 your first obligation is to protect that child.
20:51 I mean there' no question about that
20:53 but in most situations it's more emotional trauma
20:58 that you're dealing with and bitterness and so forth
21:01 and that's why forgiveness is so important.
21:03 Amen. Right, you also point out,
21:05 if you're the one making child support payments,
21:08 make them willingly and on time,
21:10 failure to do so communicates to your child you don't care.
21:14 That child knows, you know, that child knows
21:17 that if you're not making those payments on time.
21:21 And you know, and I would say this to mom,
21:23 you know, in this type of scenario.
21:25 Well, don't go out and say, well, you know
21:28 when you go see dad make sure that he,
21:30 tell him that we haven't had our payment
21:31 and we need it to pay our rent and we need this.
21:33 Don't involve the child; keep the child out of it.
21:38 That's why you need this, some bit of reconciliation,
21:42 a peaceful working relationship,
21:43 and this must be worked on as soon as possible.
21:46 So, that you can talk back and forth
21:47 for the benefit of your children.
21:50 And it takes to, so this is what we've got to do.
21:55 It's not advisable you say to date during the first two years
21:59 following the divorce, it's too threatening,
22:01 the children have already lost one parent,
22:03 now will they lose you? Yeah, yeah this is it,
22:06 you know the child is there, and he sees
22:10 this new person coming into the way, to the scene.
22:14 And now you're getting very infatuated and interested in.
22:17 I'm losing contact with mom now,
22:20 am I going to lose her, what's gonna happen to me?
22:23 See and you're also gonna be very careful.
22:25 Moms, I'm telling you this, now, when that guy comes in
22:30 and then he starts wanting to date you,
22:32 he's gonna date your children.
22:34 Okay, he's gonna smooch them, and he's gonna be nice them,
22:38 bring little gifts and everything.
22:39 Because he knows that's the way he's gonna get to you.
22:42 And that's true, so you have to be very careful.
22:46 Look, it's gonna take a couple of a years
22:49 to nurture the bonding that's necessary
22:54 to help your kids heal. And help you heal.
22:56 Yes, but you have to heal,
22:58 and then he'll help them heal, you see.
23:02 So, that's very important for those kids. Amen.
23:05 And they have to know that... that mom is there.
23:09 Now, when you start dating, don't bring that person home.
23:14 You know, don't bring him home,
23:15 you know, and don't let them be known to those children
23:18 unless you have come enough contact with that person
23:21 that you feel that this person maybe next, your next husband.
23:27 That's the time to bring him home,
23:29 because if you bring him home too early and it falls apart,
23:31 then they all... and they bond to that that particular fellow.
23:34 Then they lost another person and it's not good,
23:37 it's not good and very careful.
23:39 Look at moms, let me tell you moms,
23:43 your first priority are your children.
23:45 Number one, let God fills the loneliness,
23:49 that God fill the emptiness, your needs.
23:52 But your first requirement is your children.
23:55 You can speak right to our audience.
23:57 Yes, I tell you that, I really mean it,
23:59 you have to focus your mind on your children,
24:06 because who else is going to?
24:09 The T.V., the peer groups.
24:12 No, no, you have to do it and it's with love,
24:17 by the love God in you to pass it on to your children.
24:21 Bond come together, enjoy them
24:24 and have fun, do things together.
24:26 Find ways to do things, if money is short, find ways to do it.
24:30 And...and you're going to the park,
24:32 you're going swimming, going whatever.
24:35 You know, it occurs to me, Richard,
24:38 the one thing that I teach, I always tell people
24:40 the most important decision that you'll ever make in your life,
24:43 is to accept Christ as your Savior
24:45 but the second most important decision
24:47 you'll ever make in your life is who you marry.
24:49 Yes. And I can see, you know,
24:52 I praise the Lord, I'd never been through, yeah, a divorce.
24:58 I can see that there's so much
25:00 that people who've not been through,
25:02 particularly someone with the child,
25:04 if you've not been through this, you have no idea
25:08 the pain and the trauma, yes,
25:09 and that great reliance you must have up on the Lord.
25:13 But you've written this book, When the Vow Breaks,
25:15 by Richard D'Avanzo available at the ABC book store,
25:19 released by Pacific Press.
25:22 And I know that all of that of what you've learned,
25:25 or what you're teaching here, you learn through experience.
25:28 Yes, yes, and then through counseling
25:30 and giving divorce care seminars,
25:32 I've come into hundreds of people.
25:35 And one thing I'd like to pass on for those people
25:37 out there who are not divorced yet, with children especially.
25:43 Let me tell you, the research is showing
25:47 that your children would better off in a dysfunctional family,
25:52 than in a divorced family.
25:55 So, the old story of staying together for the kid sake
25:59 is really better. The research would begin
26:01 to substantially that, but you know,
26:03 twenty years ago, and fifteen years ago,
26:05 and ten years ago and they weren't saying that.
26:07 But now this research is showing that it's better off.
26:10 And not only that for the children but for yourself.
26:14 Because they say, if you can stick it out,
26:16 they took surveys those people who were having
26:20 dysfunctional or breaking up marriages
26:23 and those five years later.
26:26 Those people who stuck it out during those five years.
26:31 I think this statistics were 80 percent of them
26:33 said that their marriages were better than they were ever.
26:38 Look, reach for the Lord, have help Him to have you hold on,
26:43 and if at all possible do everything to avoid the divorce.
26:48 Do everything you can, separation for awhile,
26:53 anything you can to try to be patient,
26:56 wait upon the Lord, let Him come in.
27:00 You know the waiting time can be the most valuable time.
27:03 A time for connecting with God.
27:05 Amen, well Richard, I'm really glad that
27:08 you connected with God in a deeper way
27:10 through your divorce and that.
27:11 Now, you are sharing your experiences in your book
27:15 and the wisdom that God has given you through,
27:17 just being on your knees and connecting with Him.
27:20 And now through counseling,
27:22 and you're sharing that with others.
27:23 And I just want to thank you so much
27:25 for being with us again. Yeah, my pleasure.
27:27 It's been a delight to having you here.
27:28 Thank you. For those of you at home,
27:30 I hope that you've enjoyed today's program.
27:33 It will be re-run sometime in the near future,
27:35 so you might tell someone that you know
27:37 who needs to hear this message to tune in.
27:40 And I pray that the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
27:44 the love of the Father and the fellowship
27:46 of the Holy Spirit will be with you always.
27:49 May God continue to bless you. Thank you for joining us.


Revised 2014-12-17