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13-Year Old Divorced 5 Times

August 13, 2011

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Jenny was sent to me for counseling by her parents. They couldn’t control her anymore and wanted me to counsel her into a right relationship with God. The parents admitted the lack of relationship modeling in their marriage, as well as a lack of parenting skills and wisdom regarding Jenny. They also expressed a hope that I could fix Jenny. Needless to say, I felt as though I was working from a disadvantage. My prayer for Jenny was for God to show her mercy by leading her to himself. If He could use me, in some small way in that process, it would be a great joy and privilege.

Jenny was bubbly and talkative. She was an open book while interacting with me. We hit it off. Within minutes we were talking about some of the more personal things in her life. It was evident she wanted someone to talk to; someone who would not condemn her, but who would listen and even offer opinions in a spirit of encouragement and hope.

She told me that she began dating when she was 8-years old and that she was now on her sixth boyfriend. I asked her why she had divorced five times. She gave me a quizzical look and then asked me what I was talking about.

I date until I’m not pleased with him anymore

I told her that she dates a guy until she gets tired of him. When he no longer meets her expectations, she dumps him. I continued to explain to her that older people do the same thing: when they get tired of someone they dump them. In the adult world we call this divorce.

I asked her what was going to keep her from doing this when she became an adult, since she has a consistent pattern of divorcing as a kid. She told me that she would find someone who would love her and not be selfish. Because our relationship was friendly, warm, non-combative and I knew she liked me, I laughed when she said that.

Then I reminded her that a marriage certificate is a non-deterrent to divorce. It could be meaningless to a selfish person and Jenny, like me, was selfish. She understood what I was saying and readily admitted that she was selfish, though she lives in the delusional world that she will find the perfect man.

It was apparent that Jenny needed counseling, but she was not the only one. Her parents needed counseling as well. They have been setting their daughter up for a lifetime of failed relationships. The point of dating is a mystery to me, unless you’re dating to get married. Dating for dating’s sake sets kids up for selfish patterns that are nearly impossible to break without God’s miraculous intervention.

My recommendation to Jenny was to get in the context of a strong, Gospel-motivated local church where she could be cared for by pastors who would love to lead her. She would also be able to grow in relationships, while observing relationships of older men and women who were further along in their relationship with the Savior.

Jenny really liked this idea. She had no working template of what a relationship should be like. For the past five years she had been figuring it out through trial and error as modeled by the dating culture.