Until tonight, I never watched a full episode of “Jon & Kate Plus 8.” Then again, the stakes were never so high. Would they stay together or not?
Sadly, the answer is no (full story). After Jon and Kate said they were going to separate, a message appeared on the screen—a last minute edit—notifying viewers that the Gosselins had started legal proceedings for divorce. Of course, no one actually used the word “divorce.” That nasty, ugly D-word.
The first half of the episode felt like an infomercial starring the Gosselin kids and their new playhouses, while the last half seemed like I was listening to a conversation that should be taking place in the marriage counselor’s office, not on national television. The Gosselins talked about how the kids come first, how they have to do what’s best, how painful this and that will be, and how they don’t hate one another. Kate bravely shared that she would be strong and she would do what’s best for the kids. Jon said he might even get a job, but he doesn’t really know what’s going to happen next.
It’ll be hard, but as long as no one uses the D-word, things will be OK. Unfortunately, reality is much crueler. The kids will wonder what they did to cause Mommy and Daddy’s marriage to fall apart. Was it because we weren’t good enough? Were there too many of us? Perhaps they’ll become little matchmakers, hoping against hope, that somehow the spark of romance will be rekindled between their parents once again. They once loved each other, right? Can love just die? So many questions will run through their little minds.
Everyone thinks that the younger a child is, the easier a divorce will be for him or her. I don’t care what “they” say; it’s simply not true. Divorce hurts kids…a lot. If her parents couldn’t even stay together—the two most important people in a young child’s life—then what hope can that child have for future relationships? Every fight with a friend becomes feared abandonment. Everyone can walk away from a relationship, just like mom and dad walked away from one another.
There’s also the church to consider. I mean, do these two have biblical grounds for divorce? Clearly, it’s no one’s business, but that doesn’t mean people won’t ask and condemn. I remember being asked the question myself when my own parents got divorced. I mean, who cares whether or not it was biblical—at that moment, I needed someone to listen to my heart, not give me a discourse on marriage and divorce.
Will Kate’s book Multiple Blessings continue to sell? Will she be asked to speak at church events? Really, what is her witness as a child of God in these circumstances? And how will the church react to Kate now that she’s going through the D-word? Should the show even continue? Do we really want to see “Jon Plus 8” and “Kate Plus 8”? Isn’t part of the show watching Jon and Kate raise their kids together?
We probably don’t like to say it—DIVORCE—because it’s ugly. Legal proceedings, separation, time apart—those sound better; those don’t sound so cold and so final. My mom once told me that marriage is when two people become one flesh, and when she divorced my father it literally felt as though her flesh was being ripped in two. That’s the raw, unscripted, unrehearsed truth about the D-word. Jon and Kate Gosselin are getting a divorce and we are invited to be the voyeurs. It’s time to turn off the TV and let the Gosselins live their lives—we don’t need to see another American family become a statistic.