TreeAction IS THE SIGNATURE ACTIVITY OF
We want to captivate, encourage, and inspire the hearts of all those married and to be married with a humbling sense of something greater than themselves.
*We briefly mention God in our commercial because over 85% of Americans identify as God following in one way or another and half divorce. We also mention 'something greater than themselves" above and in saying this, as well as referencing God, we recognize these notions mean different things to different people and in no way do we raise them to define them.
It can be said every person in America is affected by DIVORCE. You don’t have to go beyond yourself, your parents, kids, siblings, close friends, or co-workers to have been affected by it. Just as drunk driving had always occurred in great numbers until one mother said “Enough!” divorce is occurring in overwhelming numbers. And now, one father has finally said “Enough!”
Kids Against Divorce is not anti-divorce, per say. Rather, it is against the reasons that lead a couple down the path to divorce. Moreover, it is about embracing the responsibilities to families. Divorce is a very sensitive subject. It is difficult to make concrete statements regarding the issue of divorce because it’s extremely personal and emotionally driven. Every marriage has a combination of dynamics, which can create gray areas that make divorce seem justifiable. Truth be told, the only reason divorce is truly justifiable is domestic violence. This criminal behavior should never be tolerated. The solution to it all is not complicated – treat each other the way you want to be treated!
OUR GUIDING PRINCIPLES
People of all ages make statements regarding divorce that tend to be relative to the disaster of divorce itself. When someone says, “It’s better for the kids to see us divorced than to see us unhappy together“ or “I am glad my parents got divorced because they’re happier now,” these statements are about the parent’s level of happiness post-divorce. None of these rationalizations are comparable to the level of happiness the kids would have achieved had their parents fixed and continued in their marriage. There are always couples with bigger problems, whose marriages survive, just as there are couples with smaller problems whose marriages fail. It’s not about what your problems are. It’s about who you are and how you resolve problems.
OUR MESSAGE IS IN OUR HISTORY
Kids Against Divorce was born in 2011 without knowing exactly what we would do. We just knew a voice was needed. While our name suggests we are an organization for kids, we are in fact a place for parents to calm their own voice and truly hear that Kids are Against Divorce! In establishing our identity, we knew people respond more favorably to what you’re for rather than what you’re against, however, while our research found many wonderful people throughout the country strengthening marriage, we also discovered the societal problems standing in their way continuing to grow. It was though these people were going up the down escalator. We didn’t want to be just another organization with good intentions that ultimately didn’t move the needle, so we decided it was important to be about what we’re against and felt a big statement was needed.
We explored ideas. On A Wing & A Prayer would be a tour of college campuses? Marriage Man, an idea for a cartoon superhero? The KADy’s as an awards show? KADU (Kids Against Divorce University) could be a place for learning? We did a podcast called Keeping It Together. We also turned to the church’s role in the problem and explored constructing mission trips called Marriage On a Mission. We started a class called Marriage Mondays. We’ve also been an integral part of a Million Minor March, and teamed up with a world renowned expert to operate a Valentine’s Day Giveaway of free marriage counseling. We organized petitions to Kraft Foods and The National Football League.
We created and run The KADvent Calendar – 25 Days of Marital Praise – which gives husbands & wives an Advent tradition of their own as they use a dry erase marker to leave a message on the bathroom mirror expressing love and appreciation based on a daily prompt we provide on December days leading to Christmas. See it in action above.
We had explored the idea of a ballot initiative and as 2014 began, while many resolved to go the gym, we filed The Marriage Education Act in Colorado because their process provided the most efficient path at what was considered a late date to be starting out. Simply put, The MEA amends marriage license laws such that a marriage license be treated as any other license and held to a minimal level of required education.
Upon taking the first step of a long difficult process, The Denver Post ran a story, and from KAD’s perspective; a portion of the factual substance of the article was inaccurate. For instance, it was not reported that required education would be administered by a variety of independent 3rd party providers with the freedom to teach per their respective ideologies. Never the less, this gained the attention of national news outlets such as The Today Show and set off a wave of exciting coverage, which despite a clear understanding of details, affirmed the problem and showed continued dialogue can yield a strengthening of marriage.
As is not uncommon, the initiative was withdrawn with the hope to try again with lessons learned. We tried again in 2016, and once more did not get far. We then went forward as a petition rather than a ballot measure as well as proposed a voluntary rather than mandatory system. We sought to raise the marriage license fee to $300 as well as offer a waiver of the entire fee for couples who complete marriage education prior to wedding (as well as offer tax credits for married couples who participate in continuing education.) Our theory being that seven states already see the value of marriage education and offer a discount on the license fee if marriage education is completed, however, a substantial number of couples have not participated in as much as the average marriage license fee is $49, therefore rendering a discount unpersuasive.
Once again, we were not able to marshal the manpower or resources to accomplish the great opportunities before us.
Ours is a never give up attitude though because that’s the spirit we hope people have in their marriage. We won’t quit! So, in 2017, as we mark our sixth anniversary, we find the best course is to stop trying to do too much and re-launch one of our previous ideas - KADgrove – a living monument comprised of Family Trees, now renamed Tree Action, as our singular focus and see this through! That’s it. That’s all we’re going to do. We believe keeping our focus on Tree Action is the most efficient way to make the statement that is needed. In turn, we believe this program will help people all over the country who wish to strengthen marriage and reduce divorce. Through this focus, we’re going to succeed in giving children the voice we set out to provide them six years ago, and make the difference we sought!
David Schel is the founder of Kids Against Divorce; a nationally recognized organization dedicated to giving children a voice. He has experienced divorce from all sides; as a son, a brother, a nephew, an uncle, a husband, a stepfather, and father. David is also the creator of The Marriage Education Act, which has been discussed on national television news shows as well as in newspapers and on radio programs throughout the country. He writes a Blog called Resilience Is Relative. His first novel, Without a Chair is scheduled for release in Summer 2017. Click here to visit his website.