Whorled View

May 29, 2008

Reconnecting with kids after divorce

As a family we’ve been reading “7 Habits of Highly Effective Families“, and lately we’ve been reading about the unique challenges divorced parents have.  No matter who you are or what you’ve done, my heart goes out to you if you are having a difficult time reconnecting with your children.  As mentioned in the book we’re reading that’s perhaps the most difficult challenges you’ve had to face.

In my family I know that’s been the case.  I’m not divorced, but like everyone I have many friends and family members who have been.  We’ve made some real effort as children, all of us have, since my parents divorced a dozen years ago, to get over feelings of resentment and betrayal.  Our parents have made some real efforts to try and reconnect with us kids to mend those ties as well.

Although you may be divorced I must point out that there is a good chance that this entry doesn’t apply to your situation.

With that in mind, let me also say that I know that regardless of the circumstances divorce is devastating and few people deserve the pain of a divorce, and yet almost half of all Americans will experience that pain.  Besides, many of you if not most (at least most feel this way) endured a terrible relationship for the longest time before you were divorced.

Also, many of you, after many years of the divorce are still beating yourself up over it.  Stop doing that.  I’m certainly not doing that with this blog entry.  You need to forgive yourself if you think you need forgiving, and you need to forgive your ex because if you have spite it is just gnawing at your soul and rotting in your gut in a way that just hurts you in the long run.

My main intent is in this entry is to help those of you who are challenged by the idea that even after many years some children still haven’t forgiven you.  Many of you feel that they have no right to be angry because of the divorce.  If you feel this way then you are probably already doing all the wrong things to reconnect with your kids, even though you think you’re doing the right things.  I strongly suggest that you can start the path to reconnecting with your kids if you read the book “7 Habits for Highly Effective Families“.  If you want your kids to “get over it”, then this book will help you help them get on that path.

It will make you feel better, largely because it will help you understand and get you on that path to reconciliation.  It’s also just an amazing book for anyone and everyone – and, no, it isn’t for perfect families … quite the opposite.  It’s written for you, and for me, and for everybody regardless whether they’re married or have kids or not.  Everyone is after-all a family member no matter what, and although each family is vastly different we all deal with the same kinds of issues even if they are at different levels.

If you’ve made some real efforts to reconnect with your children then that’s wonderful and I applaud such efforts, and as a child of divorced parents I hope you continue doing that (but make sure you’re doing the right things).  Especially if it doesn’t seem to be working, find out what might work, and keep working at it.  Sometimes it may feel like it isn’t working, but in truth you’re making deposits into an emotional bank account that was probably far more withdrawn than you may have ever thought, but in time you will find those deposits were worth it if you don’t give up.

As a family today we read something from that book that was profound and especially applicable to this topic: “I’ve come to give a simple four-word answer; ‘Make, and keep promises’ … I’m convinced you would be hard-pressed to come up with a deposit that has more impact in the family than making and keeping promises … the promises we make in the family are the most vital and often the most tender promises of all … Even when promises have been broken in the past, you can still [say]: ‘Will you please give me one more opportunity? Not only will I come through, I will come through in gangbuster style.’ … Dealing with a difficult problem, and a mistake in an honorable way, [makes] a massive deposit in [thier] emotional bank account.”

I know that works with me.  “Make, and keep promises”, is one of the best formulas for success in life, and especially for mending ties that were damaged by broken promises. But you have to both “Make” and “keep” a promise that they’d appreciate.  That may even mean they may want you to promise to leave them alone for a time – now you must promise to honor that wish, and you have to keep it, no matter how much it hurts you.  Don’t promise something they don’t want, and don’t break the promise whatever it is.  Lastly, you also have to expect nothing in return (that’s discussed later in the book) or it will only eat you up inside, in which case it may do the same to them.

Hey, nobody said it would be easy, but these efforts are worth it.

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February 8, 2008

Watch the Anti-Mormon-flavored PBS program “The Mormons”, or not

If you missed it 10 months ago don’t despair … recently reshown (as was “September Dawn”) to coincide with Romney’s epic struggle against the msm-nominated McCain , you can watch it Monday night on PBS.

What am I talking about? I’m talking about the most one-sided and history-selective treatment of the Mormon church that has ever been wrongly portrayed as a balanced treatment of the church. I actually don’t have a problem with all the anti-Mormon media that honestly admits that it intends to be highly critical and not give a balanced view because at least those treatments are at least honestly disrespectful. I’ll take honest disrespect over dishonest respect any time of the day.

But this one pretends to be something that it isn’t: Balanced. Some history: A couple years ago producers of the PBS series “American Experience” approached the Mormon church with a proposal to produce a “balanced” view of the Church in a 2 part documentary. Church leaders obliged and were interviewed as promised. Boy were they surprised when it aired.

Apparently “balanced” meant that they would give the same amount of time to a couple church leaders and BYU professors, as with excommunicated members, as with apostate ex-mormons, as with a couple of non-mormon intellectual critics, as with a couple evangelical anti-mormons, as with a non-representative members who made bad decisions or had ideas that weren’t backed up by official doctrine, and then they gave like 5 minutes to one good-representative lds family (out of 4 hours). So if you combine the time spent on negative and critical messages compared to positive messages the ratio was something like 5:1.

That would be fair I suppose if the church does 5 times more damage than it does good, but if you look at the statistics of Mormon communities you’ll find quite the opposite dynamic: the presence of the Mormon church (at least statistically when you look at family values, crime, suicide rates, graduation rates, education, etc) has a tremendously positive effect on communities. Christ said “By their fruits shall ye know them” (what I like to call the divine litmus test), but for whatever reason this maxim is never applied to modern-day Mormons or modern-day Mormonism.

I blogged on the program when it first aired back in May of 2007. You can read my summary of it if you don’t want to waste your time to find out how one-sided and selective it was (see here for part 1 and here for part 2).

Don’t get me wrong – it was done very professionally by Hollywood standards, narrated by a well known actor (David Ogden Stiers, the uppity surgeon from Mash) with nice camera work, with the deceptive appearance of good research, commentary by self appointed experts sitting in comfy chairs in wooden walled offices, paranoia enabling sensationalism, and most of all: artistic liberties (ie. innuendo, fact wrangling, and most of all: extremely selective history coverage).

So if you watch it then please remember the divine litmus test (“By their fruits shall ye know them”) when you consider what most of your Mormon neighbors are about. What do THEY do? How to THEY act? Then consider the amazing social statistics of communities with lots of Mormons compared to anywhere else. If you’re an atheist and thus don’t like the idea of “By their fruits shall ye know them”, consider this adage: “Actions speak louder than words”. It means the same thing. Our beliefs guide our actions and words so you can really get to know us by what we do on a daily basis.

Otherwise you can watch a million programs called “The Mormons” and never still have a clue what a “Mormon” is. Don’t be scared … we won’t bite, and we probably won’t even convert you. In fact we’d love to give you the other side of this documentary so you will truly have a “balanced” perspective.

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