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by Teresa Kindred
I wish Mommy and Daddy wouldnt yell at each other anymore, the little boy said.
I stopped what I was doing and glanced at the television. A well known talk show hostess announced that the focus of her show that day was children who are caught in the middle of fighting parents.
I feel like Ive done something bad and it makes them fight, said one child.
I want things to be like they used to be, said another.
One out of every two children in America will experience the breakup of their home, and thousands more will witness fights and arguments between the two people who are their most influential teachers: mom and dad. In many instances children too young to understand exactly what it is their parents are fighting about interpret their parents disagreements to mean (A) mom and dad dont love each other any more, or (B) mom and dad may get a divorce.
Listen to these words of a 12 year old girl about her parents: I dont like being with my parents at the same time. I dont like it when my mom and dad say mean things about each other. Mostly they are fighters using me as their gun. Sometimes they are friends. But I know it is not for too long. I dont believe it when they tell me everything will be O.K.
Alongside the nations divorce rate the number of children involved in divorce has also increased. Once, a couple experiencing marriage difficulties would stay together for the sake of their children. Today, children are increasingly seen as secondary to the personal needs of the spouses.
- The number of children living with both parents declined from 85 to 68 percent between 1970 and 1996. The proportion of children living with one parent has grown from 12 percent to 28 percent during this same time span.
- The number of children involved in divorces and annulments stood at 6.3 per 1,000 children under 18 years of age in 1950, and 7.2 in 1960. By 1970 it had increased to 12.5; by 1975, 16.7; by 1980, the rate stood at 17.3, a 175 percent increase from 1950. Since in 1972, one million American children every year have seen their parents divorce.
- Half of all children will witness the breakup of a parents marriage. Of these, close to half will also see the breakup of a parents second marriage.
- Divorce is consistently associated with juvenile emotional disorders, crime, suicide, promiscuity and later marital break-up.
Or these words from a grown woman who remembers hearing her parents fight when she was a child. My parents were Christians who attended church every Sunday but during the week they often fought like cats and dogs. I remember worrying constantly that they would get a divorce. My mother assured me that would never happen. When I asked them if they loved each other they said they did but very rarely did I ever see any signs of affection between them. As a result of their fighting I promised myself when I married I would not do that to my children. If my husband and I have disagreements we get away from each other until we cool off, or we go in the bedroom, shut the door, and talk softly. I want my childrens memories of their childhood to be of happy times spent together, not mom and dads constant feuding.
As parents we need to take a long, hard look at our marriages and ask ourselves what we are teaching our children. If during the course of a parental disagreement, voices are raised and insults hurled at one another, a child learns that its okay to say mean and hateful things when you are angry, and that mom and dad dont really respect one another.
Parents are their childrens first and best role-model for marriage. Do you have the type of marriage you want your child to have? If the answer is no then its time to do something about it.
- Remember the Greatest Commandment and the second greatest? Matthew 22:37-38: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it; Love your neighbor as yourself. If we love God we will keep His commandments and He has specifically told us to love our neighbors. Who could be a closer neighbor than your spouse?
- Study Ephesians 5:21-32 to help you remember how to treat your partner. Remember, this passage isnt about how your partner should treat you, but how you should treat your partner. Also remember, that Pauls message starts with Ephesians 5:21 and is directed at both husbands and wives: Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
- Watch the video of your wedding day or look at your wedding photo album. Let them be a reminder of your pledge to one another and the vows you made in front of friends, family, and God.
- Pray together. Someone wisely said, A family who prays together, stays together. Humble yourself before God and ask for His help and His blessing.
- Get counseling. Find a minister or professional Christian marriage counselor to help you through troubled times.
- Read Colossians 3:12-14 with your spouse as a reminder to, Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
- Remain committed to your marriage and do whatever it takes to make your marriage stronger.
If you really want to be a better parent, be a better spouse. Work at filling your home with Gods love, not earthly treasures. Memories of a peaceful and healthy Christian home are blessings you can give your children that will benefit them all the days of their lives.
© 2002, Teresa Bell Kindred. Used by permission.
Author: Teresa Bell Kindred
Publication Date: June 7, 2002
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