We Were Killing Our Kids

by Julie Alexander

 

As parents, we have a huge responsibility when it comes to raising our children. We provide food for their nourishment, a home to live in, and clothes for their bodies. We shower them with gifts to demonstrate our love; we spend countless hours in practices to give them the opportunity to experience the various sports. We sacrifice our needs to make sure that we can give them the best that we can.

However, if we do all of this but fail to give them a warm home that demonstrates that mom and dad love each other, then we are failing them. The failures are becoming much too common as we witness the devastation of broken marriage and families all around us. Examine your own life, and I am sure that you know some, work with someone or you are related to someone who has experienced a divorce. In fact, it might even be you, and this act just might be killing your children physically or impacting their decision not to get married in the future.

Judith Wallerstein, a well-known psychologist, conducted a study where followed a group of children of divorce from the 1970s into the 1990s. She did interviews with the children at eighteen months, five, ten, fifteen, and twenty-five years after the divorce. Most people think that children are resilient and can bounce back unscathed from divorce, and Ms. Wallerstien thought the same thing. However, she found twenty-five years after the divorce these children; now adults continued to experience substantial expectations of failure, fear of loss, fear of change and fear of conflict. This was attributed to their parent’s divorce. The study also highlighted the challenges these kids experienced as they began to enter into their romantic relationships. Judith Wallerstein explains, “Contrary to what we have long thought, the major impact of divorce does not occur during childhood or adolescence. Rather, it arises in adulthood as serious romantic relationships move center stage … Anxiety leads many [adult children of divorce] into making bad choices in relationships, giving up hastily when problems arise or avoiding relationships altogether.”

When our son, Christopher was seven years old, he was having difficulties in school. His teacher asked us to attend a parent-teacher conference. She shared with us the areas of concern, but then she sat back and asked if she could ask us a question. “By all means,” Greg responded. Then she asked us, “Is everything going OK at home?” We could not believe the audacity of this lady whose only job was to teach our son, not to question the status of our home.   However, in our pride and wounded ways, we blamed Christopher’s teacher for his inability to succeed in school, instead of accepting the fact that we were the cause. I’m sure that this scenario plays out in many homes today. Oh, but if I could turn back the hand of time, I would go back and sincerely apologize to his teacher for putting so much on her shoulders and placing the fault and blame on her.

If you are experiencing difficulties in your marriage, and especially if you have children, I highly suggest that you find the appropriate help you need to correct the issues in your marriage. Greg and I did not divorce, and our children still suffered greatly from the chaos in the home. As a result, we later did a forgiveness and healing exercise with them, and thanks be to God we were able to rebound from our difficulties. This too was a great lesson for them. It demonstrated that no matter how bad things get, if we persevere, with God and a little help, we could get through them. Also, remember – You are your children’s marriage prep!

 

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