You Can Have a Healthy Family (Even If Yours Wasn’t)

When you think of a family tree, you think of strong branches that represent generations of your family reaching to the sky.

But what do you do when those branches are broken by the storms of life? How do you become a good husband or wife, or a good father or mother, when your past has been marked by abandonment, divorce, or the death of a loved one?

My family didn’t have a family tree. We had a “family bush.” My mother died when I was nine years old. My stepdad abandoned me and my siblings within hours of her funeral, and my biological father died of alcoholism when I was 12. I was placed in foster care and ended up in a home where parenthood was considered a hassle to endure, rather than a gift to treasure.

Broken marriages were so prevalent in Elizabeth Oates’ family that she grew up believing divorce was normal. Every one of her grandparents divorced, a few of them twice. Every aunt and uncle divorced. Even most of her cousins.

Elizabeth hoped to avoid that trend of brokenness. And for a while, she felt successful. She and her future husband, Brandon, dated for 3 1/2 years in college before they got married. Their dating relationship was uneventful and drama-free.

But when they got married, everything began to unravel.

Maybe you’re in that same place. You’re thinking of divorce. You’re tired. You feel like you’ve fought the fight, and nothing has improved. You may even believe in Christ, but you’re struggling to find the energy to press on.

I encourage you to fight for your marriage, and we’ll tell you how on our Focus on the Family Broadcast “You Can Have a Healthy Family (Even If Yours Wasn’t).” We’ve invited Elizabeth Oates to join us in our studios for a conversation about working through your family history, and by God’s grace, reclaiming your family tree.

Divorce doesn’t only affect the married couple. It affects the children. It affects extended family and friends. It affects generations to come.

Divorce won’t solve all of your problems. You’re trading one set of problems for another.  Your former spouse will likely never fully be out of your life. There will be birthday parties, graduations, weddings, and the birth of grandchildren.

Today, we want to give you some tools to create a strong family tree that will thrive. If you’re the first generation that’s holding together, you’re the root of your family tree, and you still want to think about second and third generations and beyond.

Elizabeth Oates discusses her childhood, including a family riddled by divorce, neglect, and addiction, and offers encouragement for becoming the spouse and/or parent God wants you to be. Listen to the broadcast on your local radio stationonline, on Apple Podcasts, via Google Podcasts, or take us with you on our free phone app.

We also have caring Christian counselors on staff, and it would be their privilege to offer you a free consultation. Call us, leave your name and number, and they’ll get back with you just as soon as possible. The number during business hours is 1-800-A-FAMILY (232-6459).

We’ll send you a copy of Elizabeth Oates’ book Mending Broken Branches: When God Reclaims Your Dysfunctional Family Tree as our way of saying thank you for a gift of any amount. For more information, visit our website.

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Jim Daly

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