My Answer: Don't take on guilt for parents' unhappiness

Q: Our parents just told us they're getting divorced. We're not surprised, but they also told us they've stayed together all these years just for our sake, until we were grown. We feel very guilty, because they could've gone their separate ways and been happy if it hadn't been for us. Are we wrong to feel this way? — M.M.

A: You shouldn't feel this way. You had no control over their decision, and you shouldn't feel guilty because they chose to stay together on your account.

In fact, you should be grateful for their love for you, and their willingness to sacrifice their own happiness to help raise you, in spite of their difficulties. Children whose parents are going through a divorce often blame themselves for what's happening — but they shouldn't, and neither should you.

It would have been far better, of course, if your parents had been able — with God's help — to resolve their conflicts and heal their marriage. God knows the pain and heartache that often accompany a divorce, and he wants to help us avoid this because he loves us and wants what is best for us. This is why the Bible says, "'I hate divorce,' says the Lord God.... So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith" (Malachi 2:16).

Pray for your parents, and let them know you love them in spite of what's happening. And pray for yourselves also, that you may learn from their mistakes and build your own marriages on a strong foundation — a foundation based on Christ and his love. God gave marriage to us, and when we commit our lives to Christ and seek his will in our marriages, we can discover the happiness and security that he intended for us to have.


Q: We tried to raise our daughter to do what's right, but she's gone off the deep end and is living in exactly the opposite way. The strange thing is that she still wants to be close to our family. Should we just overlook the way she's living and pretend it doesn't matter? — Mrs. D.G.

A: Our children don't always make wise decisions or live the way we know they should, but they're still our children, and if possible we should do all we can to maintain a relationship with them. Jesus urged us to "be at peace with each other" (Mark 9:50).

Does this mean you ignore what your daughter is doing or keep quiet about your concerns? No, it doesn't, and the reason is because you love her, and you know from your experience (and from God's word) that eventually her sin and rebellion will catch up with her.

Right now, she thinks she's found the road to happiness, but in reality, she hasn't. Ignoring God's moral laws and choosing to live only for the pleasures of this life eventually lead to instability and heartache. The Bible's warning is true: "'There is no peace,' says my God, 'for the wicked'" (Isaiah 57:21).

Be thankful your daughter still wants to share in your family's life. Far too many in her situation become alienated from their families, and when troubles come, they have nowhere to turn.

At the same time, don't give her the impression that you aren't concerned about the road she's traveling — because you are.

You may feel helpless right now, but remember: God is able to do what we parents can't do. Pray for your daughter, that she'll see the error of her ways, and most of all, that she'll turn to Christ and commit her life to him.

(Send your queries to "My Answer," c/o Billy Graham, Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, 1 Billy Graham Parkway, Charlotte, N.C., 28201; call 1-(877) 2-GRAHAM, or visit the Web site for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association:

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