Every year 100+ million Mother’s Day cards are sent—72 million for Fathers1. For many, it’s a fun and sentimental task. However, one of the challenges Adults with divorced parents (ACD) can face is finding a card that honors their parent…without lying.
“Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land”(Ephesians 6:2-3).
Sounds good, but…
“Thank you for every hug, word of encouragement, and acts of love you’ve given me.” Nope
“Thank you for always being the shining example of what I wanted to be like when I grew up!” Nope
“Thank you for laughing with us in the best of times and sticking with us through the worst of times! What would we do without you?”2 Nope
I’ve spoken with ACD who struggle with wanting to honor their mother or father, but the typical cards simply aren’t true, or don’t reflect their feelings toward their parent. This can contribute to confusion, guilt, and apathy.
Do I need to send a card?
Depends. Are you not sending a card because of anger, unforgiveness, bitterness, resentment, etc? Or is it because any communication would result in a violation of necessary emotional or relational boundaries (i.e toxic situations, abuse, mental health issues)? In the majority of cases, it’s the former.
This is a time of disappointment for many. Your reality of what could have and should have been plays out against the backdrop of all the “normal” families out there. So “I don’t believe in celebrating the whole holiday thing anyway. It’s no big deal for me”. Sound familiar?
What to do
- Try to identify positive benefits you received from your parent. In most cases, contrary to your feelings, there are a variety of them—a roof over your head, resilience, independence, etc.
- Pray for (and seek through others) Godly wisdom for difficult situations—estrangements, etc. before taking action.
- Consider a blank card and write your own greeting. Don’t send a card that doesn’t reflect how you feel, or is patently false.
- Work through the reasons this is so difficult. Pray that God will reveal the true area of your struggle and any related hurts. List them out. Journal about them. Talk to a friend. Check out the podcasts and other resources on this site that can help.
- Make sure you’ve taken steps to heal yourself and strengthen your marriage so your children won’t ever feel the way you do!
Remember, the “special” day may have past, but the opportunities for individual and relational healing haven’t.