I am fifty-six years old. I got married when I was seventeen and we had four children…. My husband was always unfaithful to me. My children grew up, and I got a divorce when they were teenagers. I worked very hard at up to four jobs at a time so that my children could become professionals. The oldest got married, and then he got a divorce too. My question is: Could it be that my children are suffering the consequences of my problem?

Dear Friend,

We are very sorry to hear about your husband’s infidelity and the resulting divorce. We are also sorry to tell you that children always suffer when their parents divorce. However, it does not do any good for you to blame yourself or to spend time wishing that things had been different.

Most mothers feel some guilt for things that happened when their children were growing up. In your case, the mistake may have been in marrying the wrong man. Your children had an example of unfaithfulness instead of an example of a committed love relationship. Leading up to the divorce, they probably were witnesses to a lack of communication and poor conflict resolution skills, which resulted in bickering and maybe even verbal abuse. That kind of environment causes children to feel unsettled and even unsafe. They have fears about what will happen next. They may be preoccupied, and many have difficulty in school as a result. Statistics show that they are more likely to have emotional problems.

It is true that the children of divorce are statistically more prone to failed marriages themselves. We know that you deeply regret the fact that your son’s marriage did not last, but he and his former wife are adults and they made their own decisions. You are not to blame for what your adult children do, even if they were influenced by your own divorce.

As a child of divorce myself, I suffered from many of the natural consequences that accompany divorce. The instability and fear of what would happen next made me decide that I would be totally committed to the goal of never causing my own children to go through what I had to endure. Many people like me choose to learn from the mistakes of their parents and to not make those same mistakes. Your son had that choice.

You will find it easier to forgive yourself if you see yourself from God’s perspective. He loves you in spite of any mistake you made or any sin that you committed. When He forgives your sins, it is like erasing a chalkboard; what was there before no longer exists. Ask Him to forgive you for your sins and to wipe the slate clean. Then you will find it easier to forgive yourself for all your mistakes.

We wish you the best,