For Children of Divorce Believing in God as Trustworthy Parent May Be Difficult

Having just finished Caryll Houselander’s The Reed of God I was considering reading her autobiography, Rocking Horse Catholic.  Today I ran across this passage from it where she is talking about her reactions after being told by the nanny about her parents’ impending divorce which particularly notes the ability of a child of divorce to continue believing in a loving and trustworthy Father God:

“It is much to my parents’ credit that, though they had long been bitterly estranged, they had never quarreled in my presence; but the suddenness with which the blow struck me did nothing to soften it. My home—the house built on a rock, as I had supposed it to be—was to be swept away, and (as Beatrice took care to tell me) the reason was that my parents had quarreled. My sister and I quarreled very often, and it had always been impressed upon us that we must ‘make it up’ before we went to sleep at night; to let the sun go down upon our anger was considered to be tempting Providence; one of us might die in her sleep, leaving the other to a lifetime of remorse! That grown-up people ever did quarrel was a new and shocking idea, but that, when they did, the quarrel could never be made up at all was something utterly beyond my understanding. It shattered my faith in grown-up people—most of all in fathers and mothers. Emotionally children identify their parents with God. They stand for the things that the idea of God stands for to the human race as a whole—security, home, refuge, food and warmth and light, things taken for granted as unquestioningly as the love which provides them is taken for granted, and with the same innocent egoism of childhood. On the day that a young child learns that his trust in father and mother was misplaced, above all if one or the other has sacrificed him to some other love, emotionally if not consciously his trust in God is shattered. He will not, of course, reflect that circumstances may have overcome his parents; he looked to them for the invulnerability, the unchanging love that belongs only to God. This is why it is important to teach a child’s mind as well as his heart. He needs dogma: the religion that consists of nice feelings, hymns and prayers at Mother’s knee is simply a snare set for his feet. The seeds of revolt against authority had been sown in me even before my home was broken. Now that attitude crystallised. It has complicated my life ever since.”

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