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No More Broken Homes

In the not so distant past, people would say a child came from a “broken home” if the child’s parents were divorced. And this was considered a great tragedy. Many people, who really needed to separate, stayed together "for the sake of the children." Although each situation is different, I can assure you that when a parent is miserable and stays in a miserable situation for the children’s sake, the child learns that miserable is normal for relationships. She also learns how to put up with misery. Tosha Silver, a writer and astrologer, told me that she considers a family “broken” when people who obviously dislike each other stay together for the sake of the kids.

And I agree.

Tosha (who has done over 30,000 readings on individuals) has worked with countless couples who continue to stay together—even when the kids are begging them to separate. Tosha has often heard children say they were relieved and grateful that their parents finally told the truth them about their relationship. The truth is that children are very astute about his. Even the youngest of children can sense that there is something wrong. Because these same children aren’t mature enough to know it’s mommy and daddy that have the problem, they blame themselves for the divorce. They also believe that if their home is broken, they must be somehow broken, too.

I'll never forget the day my 15-year-old daughter said, "When I go to college, I won't be coming home for vacations." She was really informing me that being with both of her parents was just too stressful and unpleasant for her. Though we didn't fight openly, the growing incompatibility was palpable. (We hadn’t separated yet, but did later that year.) I commend my daughter for coping with this situation by suggesting that the adults work it out, as opposed to getting in the middle and trying to hold the family together.

Fast forward 12 years later. My former husband is happily remarried. My two daughters have a 10-year-old stepsister who they adore and who adores them. They also have a stepmother who adores them—and they her. Now, they quite literally have two places they can call home. Since their dad lives overseas, they are welcome on two continents. I've chosen to call this happy situation a "broken open home.” And I encourage you to do the same.

I've often said that community equals immunity, because our sense of safety, security, and belonging is quite literally wired in by how many people and places welcome us and make us feel like we belong. This is one of the main reasons why individuals who felt loved as children—with people who truly cared about them—tend to be far healthier than those who come from violent or abusive backgrounds.

In fact, the famous Grant Study from Harvard is an example of this. Conversely, the famous ACE (Adverse Childhood Experiences) which shows the link between adverse childhood experiences and illness proves the same point, but from the negative point of view.

A mother's beliefs affect her children so powerfully that simply reframing a divorce story in a positive light for your children (regardless of their age) goes a very long way toward improving their health and happiness. After all, it's your perception of what happened to you—and its meaning—that truly determines what impact it has on your health long term. My daughters and I see that our lives opened in new directions because of the divorce. I know we aren’t alone!

No matter what happened to you in childhood, it's never too late to update your sense of safety and security or sense of belonging. It all begins with how you frame your experience. If you truly believe that your life was shattered by your parent's divorce and that that is the reason for all your troubles, it's likely that you will feel helpless and hopeless—the very emotions, which are strongly associated with a decreased immunity and an increased risk for disease.

Thankfully, divorce no longer holds the stigma that it once did. Many children now find it normal to grow up in two homes—with shared parenting. Gay and lesbian households are also far more common. So at the end of the day, it doesn't matter what your home looks like. What matters is how many people love you—how many people let you into their hearts, and how many you let into yours. If there is love and caring there—if it's a place where you feel warm and safe and secure—then your health will be positively affected. The more of these people and places you have in your life, the better off you will be!!!

This information is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease. All material in this article is provided for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise, or other health program.

For up-to-the-minute as well as timeless medical advice in Dr. Northrup's extensive library of articles and podcasts, visit

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