Speaker sheds light on effects of divorce on children, hope for healing

LEO SCHAFER
STAFF WRITER

Joey Pontarelli

Photo by: Rachael Alexander

Despite the raging storm Sunday night, the Gift of Human Sexuality Symposium drew over two dozen people to the Gentile Gallery for the kickoff presentation on healing in divorced families.

In a talk entitled “How Your Parents’ Divorce is Still Affecting You,” Joey Pontarelli, the founder of Restored Ministry, spoke about his experience as a child of divorced parents, and he shared advice on how to begin healing from a divorce.  

Pontarelli cited examples of how children from divorced families suffer in various ways at different points in their lives. They especially experience increased risk of divorce in their own marriages and generally struggle more in romantic relationships, he said.

“It feels like there is a disaster around every corner,” he said. “You are afraid of marriage because you don’t want to repeat your parents’ mistakes.”  

Pontarelli said that good ways to move forward in romantic relationships are to find examples of strong families to learn from, to form healthy expectations of marriage and, of course, to “become the best version of yourself.” 

In response to a growing need, Pontarelli created Restored Ministry to help children from divorced families recover and heal. In addition to the resources the ministry offers, Pontarelli gave several tips for healing, such as naming one’s wounds, finding a counselor or spiritual director, forgiving one’s parents and asking God for healing.  

“If you’re like me,” said Pontarelli, praying for healing may be difficult because “you may have felt in some point in your life, especially after your parents’ divorce, that God abandoned you. … You have my permission to ask God this: Where were you? In the midst of all this pain and suffering in my life, where were you? He’s ready for you to ask that question. And I think what you’ll find is that he’ll say, I was right there with you all along. 

Pontarelli described positive and negative coping mechanisms, and he encouraged listeners to develop healthy strategies to better process their emotions. 

More resources for young adults recovering from their parents’ divorce can be found at restoredministry.com. 

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