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Mentors,
My ex-husband and I divorced when my son was very young. I got custody, and he lived with me for the last 17 years.  He had a very rough year this past school year, between his studies and playing on the soccer team, and he asked to spend the summer with his father in Montana.  I agreed, since he didn’t always get to do that because of his soccer schedule.  That has turned into him wanting to stay with his father fulltime.  He came home this last weekend and spent more time with his friends than with myself or his sister. I’m very hurt and angry; for 17 years he was my world, and now I feel farther away from him than Montana.  Any help from parents that deal with the same thing or spiritual guidance would be appreciated.-Anonymous

 

Dear Anonymous,

Whenever there is a divorce with children the possibility of complications exists. Even though one parent has custody, both parents have legal and moral responsibilities. This situation, though unfortunate, is not uncommon.
Two things here cause me concern:

  • The statement: “For 17 years he was my world.”
    Obviously, your son’s decision has upset your world. My concern is this is an awfully large burden to place on a 17-year-old’s shoulders. He is not responsible for your peace and happiness. You are.
    God never intended for us to find peace in anyone other than Him.
    In Ezekiel 14:3 God says of the elders of Israel, “These men have set up idols in their hearts.” God is saying that the human heart can take any good thing and turn it into an ultimate thing. An ultimate thing is something we deify in the center of our lives, asking it to give us peace, significance, and security—the ultimate things only God can provide.

If you love somebody so much that they take the place of God in your life you are guilty of idolatry. Many bad things can result:

· Disappointment—When you put someone you love into the ultimate position then both you and the one you love are set up to be bitterly disappointed.
· Manipulation—Love idolatry opens the door to being manipulated by someone else or it tempts you to be manipulative of others in order to get your way.
· Loneliness—Ironically love idolatry leads to loneliness. This burden can become so great that children enter adolescence or young adulthood and rebel against it by turning against you.

It is impossible for an adult to carry this burden, much less a teenager. All parents deal with the temptation of attaching our greatest hopes and dreams to our children, children who are never capable of fulfilling those hopes and dreams.
All of our relationships are made stronger when they are kept in proper balance. This happens when we make Jesus Christ our world.

  • The implication that your son is being asked to carry out the divorce.

Are you concerned because your son is in Montana or because he is with your ex-husband? Children have to the right to know and love their parents, whether or not their parents love each other.
My advice, unless there are moral or physical dangers involved in your son being with his father, is that you give him your blessing and make sure he knows you are there for him no matter what.
Then, pray for him, every day, and trust the Lord. Ask the Lord to fill the empty spot you feel with service to others in His name. Take advantage of the opportunity this gives you to focus on your daughter. There are others who face the same empty nest issues. Reach out to them. Help them to see by the example of your life that true peace comes from the Lord.
Dr. Carl White


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