Symphonies to Sorrow

  When rocker Aaron Lewis of the band called Staind was thirteen years old, his parents divorced. In a song called "For You," Lewis sings: "To my mother, to my father/It's your son or it's your daughter/Are my screams loud enough for you to hear me?/Should I turn it up for you?" Chad Kroeger, singer/songwriter for the band Nickelback, describes the pain of his father's abandonment with lyrics like these: "You left without saying goodbye/Although I'm sure you tried/You call and ask from time to time/To make sure we're still alive/But you weren't there right when I'm needing you most." Whenever he sings that song, Kroeger told the Washington Times, fans begin to cry, telling the rocker they've been through the same heartbreak themselves. And then there's a song called "Broken Home" by Jacoby Shaddix of Papa Roach. Shaddix describes how he felt when his father walked out when he was only seven years old: "My wounds are not healing/I'm stuck in between my parents/I wish I had someone to talk to /Someone to confide in." These musical laments are a far cry from what the so-called experts tell divorcing parents to expect. As Maggie Gallagher writes in her book, The Abolition of Marriage, one of the driving ideas of the postmarital culture "is that the happiness of adults is so crucial to their success as parents that divorce will make them even better parents." The notion that "divorce is better for kids than staying in a troubled marriage is now the conventional wisdom," so writes Gallagher. But are most kids really better off when their parents divorce? Does divorce actually lead to less hostility between parents? According to Gallagher, all too often, parents fight even more after divorcing than they did while married. In fact, she notes, "Children whose parents were divorced, separated, or remarried [are] twice as likely to need psychological help as children whose parents [stay] in marriage with minor or moderate conflicts." And that's not counting all the other problems that afflict children of divorced parents in higher numbers: teen pregnancy, criminal behavior, drug use, and poor health. Children who do worst of all, Gallagher says, are those from "high-conflict divorced families." Now, of course, divorce can sometimes benefit kids -- but only when there is a long-term, high-level of hostility or violence -- and most marriages don't fall into that category. As the songs of modern rockers indicate, children continue to feel pain from their parents' divorce even many years later. This is one of the reasons God condemns divorce so strongly. That's something to think about in a culture that says if parents are happy, then children will be happy, too. More often than not, it just isn't true. Just ask the real experts on divorce: the kids who have gone through it and who are now writing rock-and-roll symphonies to sorrow. Tom DeLonge of the group Blink 182 wrote this about his parents' divorce in a song titled "Stay Together for the Kids": "Rather than fix the problems, they never solve them/it makes no sense at all/I see them every day/We get along, so why can't they?" -- good question. For further reference: Steve Beard, "Childhood divorce fuels fire of new rock," Washington Times, 4 October 2002. You can read the lyrics to "For You" (warning: profanity) at Staind's website, "Too Bad" at Nickelback's website, "Broken Home" at Papa Roach's website (click and highlight screen to see lyrics), and Blink 182's "Stay Together for the Kids." Also, Everclear's "Father of Mine" expresses the same loss felt by children of divorce. Maggie Gallagher and Linda J. Waite, The Case for Marriage: Why Married People are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially (Doubleday, 2000). Mike McManus, Marriage Savers (Zondervan, 1995). Also visit the Marriage Savers website. Maggie Gallagher, The Abolition of Marriage: How We Lost the Right to a Lasting Love (Regnery, 1996). "President Announces Welfare Reform Agenda," St. Luke's Catholic Church, Washington, D.C., 26 February 2002. In this speech, the president discusses the need for programs that strengthen marriage. Neil Howe and William Strauss, "The New Generation Gap," The Atlantic Monthly, December 1992. Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, "The Girls of Gen X," American Enterprise, 7 July 1999. BreakPoint Commentary No. 020819, "What's in It for Me?: The Selfist Philosophy." BreakPoint Commentary No. 010622, "For Better or For Worse: How to Strengthen Marriages."


Chuck Colson


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