Sunday, February 12, 2017

Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse on "Healing Family Breakdown" retreats

Dear friends, I'm going to be doing and saying a lot on the marriage and divorce front in the next few months, as I get closer to releasing my next book, Primal Loss: The Now-Adult Children of Divorce Speak. As a woman blessed with an intact family (my parents have been married 52 years), I had no idea what divorce does to children, other than the fact that I knew it was painful and they suffer. I took my parents' marriage for granted, and I barely gave a thought to what my life would have been like had they divorced. 

After reading through and editing the words of almost sixty adult children of divorce for my book, I can no longer turn a blind eye to family breakdown. 

Today I want to introduce you to the Ruth Institute's Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, whom I have admired for many years, before she ever knew who I was. She is doing so much good work, and I cannot say enough about her, her colleague Jennifer Johnson, and the mission of the Ruth Institute. Please take a moment to learn about one of the Institute's latest programs, from Dr. Roback Morse herself:

Divorce hurts kids. The wounds do not go away. When I saw the extensive discussion on Leila’s Facebook feed, I knew I wanted to share this report with you, her readers. 

Since 2013, the Ruth Institute has been creating materials and programs designed to assist what we call the Survivors of the Sexual Revolution. Our thinking is that every round of the Sexual Revolution has harmed millions of people. Future developments destabilizing marriage, including genderless marriage, will continue to harm even more people, even more deeply. Yet, the constituency for natural marriage has been eroded, due to the relentless promotion of the redefinition of marriage and related topics. 

The Healing Family Breakdown Half-Day Retreat is the latest of our innovative programs to help people see the connection between family breakdown in general, the ideology of the Sexual Revolution and the harms they personally have experienced. The Ruth Institute held its second Healing Family Breakdown Half-Day Retreat on February 4, 2017 in Lake Charles, Louisiana. 

The Retreat succeeded in several important respects. Participants: 
  • learned empathy for their family members 
  • felt permission to experience whatever emotions they may have had about the disruptions in their families. 
  • pledged to stay involved in further Ruth Institute educational programs. 

The Retreat consists of a combination of short talks, guided meditations, and small group discussions. This format gives people the chance to do more than just learn about family breakdown in the abstract. The Retreat format allows people to process the full impact of family breakdown on their families. 

This Retreat is a multi-generational event. We held it at the Catholic Student Center at McNeese State University in Lake Charles. Naturally, students attended. Because of our contacts in the whole community, adults of all ages attended. The mix of ages allowed people to hear the story of family breakdown from the perspective of others in their families. 

One woman said, “My son, from my first marriage, got kicked out of school at age 8. He told me that he felt as if he didn’t really fit into the family. I couldn’t understand what he meant until I heard others talking about their experiences today.” 

A young woman said, “My parents are divorced and I have issues with my dad. One man at my table, who has been divorced twice, is struggling with his daughter. I feel as if I can see my dad’s point of view in a way I never could before. Listening to him helped me a lot.” 

We introduced people to the concept of “disenfranchised grief.” This refers to a social situation in which people feel that they are not permitted to feel their sadness. My colleague, Jennifer Johnson contrasts the loss of a parent through death, with the losses of divorce. Grieving the death of a parent is perfectly understandable and socially acceptable. But the child of divorce or a reluctantly divorced spouse often has no space in the family system for grieving their losses. 

People seemed to feel relieved that they could experience the full range of feelings associated with the disruption of their families. 

Our goal at the Ruth Institute is to build up a network of people who can offer these Retreats in their own communities. After all, Jennifer and I cannot be everywhere at once! All these people will be better spokespeople for marriage within the wider culture. They will see the connection between the ideology of the Sexual Revolution and the serious harms they and their loved ones have endured. And most importantly, they will not be talked out of any of this by a slick advertising campaign, promoting the next round of sexual adventures or family deconstruction. 

The campus minister, Fr. Nathan Long, concurred with us that this Retreat was a spirit-filled event that benefitted everyone who attended. We are looking forward to spreading this new program throughout the cities where we have contacts, and beyond. 

Thank you to the Little Catholic Bubble Readers, for doing your part to support the Children of Divorce, the Reluctantly Divorced, and other Survivors of the Sexual Revolution. 

You can learn more about the Healing Family Breakdown Retreats here. The Ruth Institute Store has a variety of pamphlets, reports, and books to support healing. You may also wish to share your story of family breakdown and surviving the Sexual Revolution on our Tell Ruth the Truth blog. Or, just subscribe to our free weekly newsletter, and receive a free gift. 

Thank you, Dr. Roback Morse!!

Bubble readers, please feel free to share this with your friends and family, and with your diocese if they would be interested in hosting a Healing Family Breakdown Retreat. 

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