Divorce & Kids – The Power of Love!
“To the world you may be one person, But to one person, you may be the world.”
My kids were very young when we divorced and nothing took greater precedence than their emotional well-being. Tanya and I agreed that the cause of the divorce was immaterial to our children’s ability to fall asleep at night confident that their world was still intact. Confident that despite logistics-the love, support, and comfort they had always known would always be there. Confident that the bonds of family weren’t being sacrificed on the altar of separation. Confident that despite the changes—little had changed.
No easy task. It meant a 100% commitment to cherishing a single ideal that so many divorces seem incapable of honoring. The ideal that the adults won’t use their children as weapons to inflict pain on each other-while overlooking or ignoring the pain the children experience when used in this manner. It’s hard to imagine a crueler act than diminishing the importance of a mom or dad in the eyes of their innocent kids who only know love for both. Yet despite the obvious-so many divorced couples unleash years of bitterness, acrimony, and hatred upon their divorced spouses through their children. The damage and mental anguish of sons and daughters subjected to this is incalculable and long lasting. Suffice it to say, there are no winners when the children of divorce are persuaded, influenced, or coerced into taking sides.
It was two years into my divorce that a new man entered the lives of my ex-wife and kids. My son was seven and my daughter was five. They were happy and well-adjusted kids because we never poisoned the spiritual well they both drank from. Suddenly though, the specter of this new presence in their lives was troubling and painful for me. My mood wasn’t helped with their innocent and delightful sharing of how wonderful John was and all the cool things he did with them and for them. I could feel darkness creep into my heart along with the anger that accompanied it. There is no worse feeling than the thought that someone new is taking slices of the love pie you’d spent a lifetime creating. My mood was changing and not for the better. I was on the verge of bitterness and anger and was having difficulty finding the brakes.
“It’s not about you..” –Rick Warren
Then one day I heard a wise man on the radio say something that changed my life forever. He said, “I believe a child’s capacity to love is infinite and that if nourished and encouraged, it will grow exponentially.” I was overcome with emotion and excitement and I couldn’t wait to see my little guys and share this amazing revelation with them. The next time they came over to stay with me, I sat them down and gave them, and myself, a gift for the ages.
I said, “You guys know mom is getting married, right? John must love mom an awful lot to marry her and he must love you guys an awful lot too, right? So listen, I need you both to do daddy a huge favor, OK?” Their eyes got big and they sat there entranced and excited at the prospect of doing something huge for their dad. I continued, “I want you guys to love John back. I want you to love him with all your heart for the rest of your lives. He’s going to be there when I’m not and he’s going to have your back when I can’t—and he’s worthy of all the love and respect you can give him. Can you do that for me?”
What happened next is nearly indescribable. My kids were liberated from any burden or guilt to love their mom’s new husband unconditionally with no worries or concerns about how their daddy would feel. As for me? The second I did it, my heart melted with the comforting thought that my son and daughter were going to have hearts bursting with love throughout their remaining childhoods. More importantly though was the fact that not only didn’t I lose anything in the bargain, I gained so much more than I ever thought possible. Such is the nature of unconditional love. Dennis Prager was right. A child’s capacity to love is infinite.