Can children recover from their parents' divorce?
With divorce no longer the shocking reality it once was decades ago, even within the Christian community, a pro-family ministry dedicated to restoring marriages is drawing attention to the children affected by separated parents and the negative toll it could have on them.
"Most divorcing parents are concerned about their children's reactions to their separation and divorce," said Tricia Cunningham, director of Support Resources for the National Institute of Marriage. "They want to know if their children will grow up to be happy and healthy."
For 21-year-old actress Lindsay Lohan, star of "Mean Girls" and "Freaky Friday" among other films, the recent divorce of her parents has caused her to act out, she said. Lohan had been charged with drunken driving and cocaine possession and recently checked out of a rehab clinic in Utah earlier this month. It was her third trip to rehab since January.
Her father, Michael Lohan, blames himself for Lindsay's troubles.
"How can I not? I mean, we lead by example," he told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
Michael Lohan and his wife Dina were involved in a bitter divorce battle before settling their divorce in August. They had been close to a divorce settlement in 2005 but the deal fell through when Michael had to serve nearly a two-year prison term for drunken driving. He was released in March and entered a Christian-based drug and rehabilitation center in West Babylon, N.Y.
"It saddens me," said daughter Lindsay, according to World Entertainment News Network. "I wish it would stop. It hurts when two people you love argue with one another. I don't think any child wants to see their parents argue or see their family fall apart.
"Unfortunately it happens, and when it does they should do it with as little effect on their children as possible."
Lindsay made the plea mainly on behalf of her younger siblings, Aliana, 13, and Dakota, 10. The couple also has a 19-year-old son, Michael.
The effects of divorce on teens include anger, fear, loneliness, depression, and guilt, cited Cunningham of National Institute of Marriage.
"Some feel unfairly pushed into adulthood by feeling as though they must take on responsibilities of the home or the care of siblings," added Cunningham. "Others feel a loss of parental support in handling emerging sexual feelings. Teens may also doubt their own ability to get married or to stay married."
After a 3-1/2-year estrangement from his daughter, Michael reunited with Lindsay in September.
"I made a commitment when I was in there (rehab) to God and to myself that, when I got out, I was going to do God's work, and I was going to share with other people what I've been through and how God changed my life," the born-again Christian said, according to AP.
Michael is now a spokesman for GodMen, a new Christian men's movement that aims to renew men's faith through masculinity and frank conversations brother to brother.
Moreover, he hopes to get things right with his family.
"I've had such an effect on my family and my daughter Lindsay, and I want to show them through my example that you can right the wrongs and turn it around," said Michael.
"And I hope that the grace that has been given to me can work through my family, and that we can come back to that same place in our hearts."
Cunningham advises divorced parents to provide as much support for their children as possible so that healing can occur.
"If the question is simply, 'Can children recover from their parent's divorce?' the answer is typically 'yes,'" she said. "But before they arrive at a state of recovery, there is usually a lot of heartache along the way. And sometimes it lasts a lifetime."
Ideally, Cunningham suggests parents on the verge of separation who still have a thread of hope to give marriage a shot. The National Institute of Marriage offers counseling and conferences to help restore and renew marriages.