by: Ryan Richardson
This is a difficult book to read.
Having said that, more importantly, this is a book that is absolutely necessary and has been needed by many people for decades. Jen Abbas has taken the brave step to address Divorce, an issue that few want to talk about, but that fewer have been shielded from. It is staggering to realize how much of humanity has been affected by the breakdown of marital relationships, and this book shines a bright light on that fact.
But this is a book about coming to terms and finding healing from our True Abba Father, with the foundation that we are His children, firmly planted in His hand. This is how this book functions best. Jen clearly states that, in her experience, many adult children of divorce only begin to fully understand its impact on them when they begin the search for a potential spouse. This is often when it hits home.
I enjoyed reading this book for the fact Jen does not write this book from the angle of blame or from the perspective of a victim, but from the angle of a person that has found healing, and continues to seek that healing and wholeness. The reader is encouraged to, among other steps, make peace with the parties involved, redefine our family relationships, learn how to trust again, and create and re-create our own marriage models. Grieving and reconstruction are part of the process of becoming whole.
Before we can have peaceful hearts, we must grieve our disappointments and hurts. We must give ourselves permission to let the tears flow. Perhaps we see tears as an indication of weakness or a loss of control, and we want nothing more than to be strong and self-sufficient. Understand that grief comes in waves. We can't "get over" our loss in one or two crying sessions. We may grieve for years as new experiences reveal new losses - and that's okay. When feelings of sadness overwhelm us, we need to let ourselves feel them. The only way to deal with loss is to go through it. p.32-33
The author draws on scripture and provides tangible steps to get through the pain and heartache associated with divorce. It will take time to develop the trust necessary to be successful in our most intimate relationships, but even before we reveal our heart, we can be wise by carefully selecting friends who reflect the qualities of a trustworthy person. p. 124
Generation Ex is not an easy read, but a very timely one.
Dear Amy (Formerly Dear Abby), July 10, 2004
My parents divorced when I was a baby, and my father married again immediately. He divorced my first stepmother when I was 14 and soon after remarried again. I'm in college now. My dad did everything "right" when I was little. I have fond memories of piano lessons, family dinners, school functions and special outings. I cherish all of that and am willing to give him credit for it.
However, negative comments about my mother were allowed in his home, and as I was a "daddy's girl," that had a lasting impact on my relationship with her. He made some bad decisions with issues of child support, forced me into the middle of it, and then said a lot of hurtful things. I also know that his treatment of both my mother and my first stepmother (whom I am still close to) was anything but admirable.
I know that the last issue doesn't involve me, but I'm still angry, and frankly, don't think very highly of him. We get along wonderfully, mainly because I repress my true feelings. We love each other. I just feel as though I'm expected to get over that stuff - to be a bigger person and forget it, because I've always been expected to be the "grown-up" with him.
Whenever I have made comments about how I'm feeling, he's skirted them to make himself look good. I want him to take ownership and make an apology.
- Ex-Daddy's Girl
Let me start by saying that we all want "ownership" and apologies from the people in our lives who have messed up so badly. Now I need to tell you that the kind of person who bad-mouths a mother to a daughter, involves his daughter in child support disputes and in general expects his daughter to be "the grown-up" in the relationship is not likely to "own" or apologize well. I mean, you can try, but you're not likely to get satisfaction.
Here's what you can do: Love him anyway. Not by glossing over his mistakes - and trust me, these are serious failures on his part - but by appreciating what he did well while accepting his flaws and horrible lapses in judgment, and promising yourself that you will never parent so poorly as he did.
If you can take this relationship off of the high heat, stop worrying about whether you're a current or an ex-"daddy's girl" and change your standards in terms of always having to get along "wonderfully," it will be easier to say to your father, "Dad, you blew it." And he's more likely to reply, "Yeah, kid, I did" than if you demand an ownership and an apology.
You might benefit from reading "Generation Ex: Adult Children of Divorce and the Healing of Our Pain," by Jen Abbas (2004, WaterBrook Press).
(Send questions via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail to Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611.)