Collateral Damage // Dr. Chirban

A forty-five year old woman who was twelve years old when her parents divorced shared this experience: “My mom put all my dad’s clothes and lunchbox in the car, drove to the woman he was having an affair with, and had me throw all of his clothes on the woman’s lawn, knocked on the door with his lunchbox and told her to make my dad’s lunch for work the next day.”

That is just one of the many raw and revealing quotes from the book Collateral Damage by Dr. John T. Chirban. The book is written to parents as a guide to help navigate the murky waters of divorce. It focuses on steps parents can take to help their children while also caring for themselves through the process.

The book is based on the author’s story of going through a divorce, his education and experience as a psychologist and a five-year survey that was geared toward the parents and the children of divorce.

Dr. Chirban, through his involvement with the Dr. Phil show, was in a unique position to reach many people with the Divorce Study. Over 10,000 people responded to the survey and numerous quotes, like the one above, are shared throughout the book.  Some of the quotes are from the children of divorce and others are from the perspective of the parents. Many of them are heart-breaking as you read the pain and loss caused by the dissolution of families.

Dr. Chirban speaks to the challenges that children face as their parents go through the divorce process.  While he highlights some positive steps parents can take, he also reveals some of the missteps that have occurred in the lives of many.

Here’s just one example from the Divorce Study:” The study showed that 51 percent of divorced parents said they spoke with their children and believed they had met their needs, yet 87 percent of children reported they had no one to talk to about their feelings during the divorce.” (pg. 22)

One of the many challenges that parents going through a divorce must face is how they care for their children, allow them to express freely their emotions and process their feelings while also trying to work through their own hurts and hangups with the end of the marriage.  Dr. Chirban provides a good resource for parents to use to address both sides of that equation.

While I think this book is helpful for anyone who works with children and families and for people who have already gone through a divorce, where I think it would be most helpful is for those who are considering or in the process of divorce.  Dr. Chirban shares good information that can help parents care for themselves and their children.  The quotes shared and steps given provide parents some clarity during a confusing and emotionally charged season.

I Failed & I’m So Thankful I Did @daytonmomsblog

My wife’s recent post on the Dayton Moms Blog tells about lessons learned through divorce. It’s a well written piece that hits home with many of us. 

I was checking out at a local superstore, and my eye caught People magazine. The July 6, 2009 Issue. I happened to glance and saw the words, “I feel like I failed.” This stirred an emotion in me that I had not felt for many years, and right there, in the check out line, I started to weep.

Read the entire post on Dayton Moms Blog

Undone – a Compelling Memoir

undoneI first heard about Undone from my wife. She is a friend of the author, Michele Cushatt, having attended college with her and now being Facebook friends. I wasn’t planning to read the book because I put it in the category of a “chick book.” I know there are movies that guys refer to as “chick flicks” so I kind of put this memoir into that category – a book for women written by a women. My wife started reading it and kept talking about how much she enjoyed it, so I decided to get a copy. I’m glad I did.

The subtitle of the book is “a story of making peace with an unexpected life.” Not only is Cushatt a gifted writer (she has a way with words), but part of her story had similarities to where my wife and I have been. She writes about the pain of divorce, an ongoing battle with cancer and managing a family with a biological child, two step-sons and three foster children. While I have never struggled with cancer, I related to enduring divorce and experiencing blended families and adoption.

Cushatt writes with an honesty that keeps the reader turning the pages. She shares the lessons she’s learned, the struggles she has add and how she handled adversity – including the good, bad and ugly.

I appreciated her humor that is sprinkled throughout her book. In discussing her diagnosis of cancer and the responses she received from people. This example reveals her sense of humor and she related this response from one person – “And my personal favorite: ‘My friend was diagnosed with the same kind of cancer as you. He died a few months ago.’ Thank you. Super helpful.” Now that’s funny!

This is potentially my favorite quote of the book from a powerful chapter. In chapter 16 she tells about going to Christmas Eve service with her three “littles.” You have to read the chapter to appreciate all that is going on, but as she brings the story to an end, she writes these words that she shared with a friend: “Just because something is hard doesn’t mean we’re not called to it. And just because it’s hard doesn’t mean it’s not good.”

Undone was a compelling read and as I read it, I know the Cushatt’s story is not over. If your life has ever taken an unexpected twist, you will appreciate the words this book contains.

Cohabitation On The Rise

Wedding-Ring-FingerI was watching the TODAY show this morning and they had a piece on the rise in couples who choose to live together and have children together prior to getting married. Here’s one statistic they shared in the report: “Marriage rates are at their lowest point in half a century and the number of cohabitating couples is way up to 7.5 million in 2010. Statistics show unmarried couples that live together are staying together longer than in the past. After three years, 32% were still living together and still unmarried and in many cases, like the Jolie Pitt clan, having children.”

The reporter went on to say this, “It does not surprise me at all that couples are choosing to cohabitat instead of get married. It’s much less intimidating to sign a lease than marriage papers. Couples want what is permanent. A baby is permanent. a relationship, not so much.”

One of the guest hosts of the show that day lives with his girlfriend and they have children together. They brought on an expert in relationships who said she was not concerned with the rise in cohabitation. Her response was this: “I think people want to be committed to one another and they’ll do it. Just in time.”

I know divorce is a scary and painful thing and many people who are now old enough to marry grew up in a time when a high percentage of parents didn’t stay together. Cohabitation is not a new thing and I think it happens in part because couples don’t want to see their relationship end in divorce. Rather than go through that painful process, couples chose to simply live together.

What stood out to me was the general acceptance (at least of those on the show this morning) of those who choose to live together. It seems that the fear of divorce is enough to justify living together and having children apart from marriage. If you look at the statistic shared in the report, only 1/3 of cohabitating couples are still together have three years. It would be interesting to see what happens to that percentage as the years increase.

I think it also shows that people want what God has placed in our hearts – the desire to be loved and to be known. Way back in the book of Genesis, Adam had everything he needed except a “suitable helper.” So, God gave him Eve.

While I know there are various reasons people chose cohabitation over living together, I think this report shows the value of marriage and how important, fulfilling and sometimes difficult that relationship can be. People want relationships to stick. They want their partner to stay.

One of the hosts this morning said, “The end game is sticking together.” That was God’s original design, to stick together. Our culture is reflecting God’s intent – to stick together. As we commit to His way, with His help, we can stick and stay.

You can see the video of this report, as well as a link to the transcript, on the TODAY Show website.

Effects of Divorce on Kids Involvement in Church

churchOne of the regular emails I receive is HomeWord’s Culture Brief. It is designed to help parents and ministry leaders stay current with youth culture.

In the January 18, 2013 edition they referenced an article from the Chicago-Tribune that highlights research that indicates that kids raised in happy, intact marriages are twice as likely to worship later in life than children whose parents divorce amicably.

I think this speaks to different groups – both the church and to parents. The church continues to struggle to address the issue of students that grow up in the church that don’t return once they hit adulthood.

It speaks to parents as yet another negative effect of divorce. I thought it was interesting that the article used the word “amicable” to describe certain divorces. In my experience, I don’t know if you can really put the words “amicable” and “divorce” together, unless it is simply to make the adults in the dissolving relationship feel better about what is taking place.

I certainly don’t have more answers than anyone else; just found this to be an interesting insight into the impact divorce has on the kids involved. While God is certainly able to work in the lives of divorced parents and kids from divorced homes, I think this research sounds another warning bell for today’s families.

Here is that portion of the article featured in the HomeWord email:

Seeking to highlight a phenomenon that has become so common that it’s often overlooked by clergy, a new analysis of data about children of divorce reveals that kids raised in happy, intact marriages are twice as likely to worship later in life than children whose parents divorce amicably. Researchers say they hope the unprecedented project will awaken pastors to a common oversight contributing to the decline in mainline Christian denominations and religious affiliation in general. “Children of divorce are on the leading edge of the well-documented spiritual-but-not-religious movement,” said Elizabeth Marquardt, the project’s lead author. “These are potential leaders. As we grapple with more and more people growing up without a married mom and dad, the church can make more sense of that.

On My Way to Work this Morning… (a repost)

Received this brief blog post today from  I had just come into my office from Wednesday night activities where we talked about loving others and how we often say love, but don’t often show it.  This post really rang true with that and how broken relationships impact our students.


Scott Rubin is the author of it and shares his experience from that morning.

This morning on the way to work, I see two cars coming from different directions converge on a designated meeting spot. A middle school kid hops out of one car and jumps into the other. Going from Mom’s care, to Dad’s care, or vice versa. I’ve seen it happen before with this particular family, and it gets me thinking every time.

– What’s it like to be in junior high and have 2 different households?
– What goes through your mind as you leave one parent, and reengage with the other?
– How does starting your day that way effect how your middle school day goes?

Here’s what I DO know… every time we talk about divorce from the stage in our ministry, the room gets very, very quiet.