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Parents are getting divorced. I don't know what to do. Part 2


Part 2: My parents are getting divorced, and they’re planning to marry different people. This was decided when I was 14 years old, and now I’m 16. I don’t like the idea of them separating, but I don’t know what to do. —Heartbroken, 16, OK

Shayna Answers:

Dear Heartbroken,

Last week we talked about the fact that it’s not always possible to understand why our parents make certain decisions. We said that although divorce seems contrary to the original plan for marriage (Mark 10:9), certain situations make it necessary sometimes (Matthew 5:31, 32; 1 Corinthians 7:15). And even when we don’t understand our parents’ motives, God asks us honor them anyway (Exodus 20:12).

As difficult as divorce is, this week we’ll talk about something that might be even harder: accepting a new stepfamily. If for nothing else, stories about mixed families in the Bible teach us how situations can escalate from bad to downright horrible when we don’t want them to work. Just look at Isaac and Ishmael (Genesis 21:9, 10) or Joseph and his brothers (Genesis 37:12-36).
I won’t suggest that this transition will be easy, because it probably won’t be. What will make the biggest difference? Your attitude about it.

It’s a likely possibility that you’ll end up caught between a biological parent and a stepparent who may hate and gossip about each other. It will be tempting to think about or even act on what you hear. Since you’re in the unique position of claiming both sides as your family, it’s smarter to be a buffer than a catalyst.

Let your parents vent if they need to, but tell them if their constant gossiping is making you uncomfortable. Don’t accept their opinion of another person because you feel like you have to. You don’t have to take sides, no matter what anyone tells you.

People tend to reflect our emotions back at us, so remember this in your interactions with your stepfamily. Flesh and blood is not what makes parents or families. Our parents are people that God ordained to be our caretakers, our spiritual leaders, and our protectors. Even though they disappoint us at times, God asks us to be patient, loving, and kind (1 Peter 3:7-12; Colossians 3:13).

Talk to your new parents and family members even if you don’t want to, and make an effort to get to know them. Even if you’re resentful or angry, try to find at least one thing you like about them and expand from there.

Scheduling one-on-one time with your new family members (last week we talked about doing this with your other siblings) will also help you control—even refine—your attitude. We all have to get along with people we don’t like at school, work, and church. How much more important it is to get along with our family!

Transitions—especially involving our family unit—are hard for everyone. You’re not the only one feeling unsettled, even though it may feel that way. Things are likely to be this way for a while, but Deuteronomy 32:4 tells us that God is our rock. No matter what else is happening, He will never change (Psalm 90:2, Psalm 102:27).

Jesus is also our perfect Parent, who will never leave or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). Don’t be afraid to cling to Him, especially when you feel like you can’t cling to your earthly parents.

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