Through Their Eyes
May 21, 2018
We are all waiting for something. If you don’t believe me ask anybody, a friend or a coworker, what are you waiting for? It seems that expectation and anticipation are common themes throughout our lives. Our days are riddled with expectations. We even expect we will wake up in the morning, or at least we hope to. I think we can be unaware of our expectations. They are likelihoods, possibilities filled with promise. It is through their eyes, the eyes of the children that have suffered broken dreams and the insecurity of knowing if they are loved that I see the agony of a shattered home.
I can still feel the pain as if it were yesterday, and it’s been many yesterdays now. I worked outside the home and had to work on Saturdays. Even though my husband had left our home, the verbal agreement was that he would still watch the kids Tuesday and Thursday nights and Saturdays when I worked. My youngest daughter was in Tae Kwon Do at the time and very serious about the sport. My husband was expected to pick her up from our house and take her to her 9:00 am class on Saturdays. I had to leave early for work but my older daughter was home, she was not driving age yet. I remember the first time I got the tearful phone call from my little girl wondering where Daddy was, was he coming to get her? She was waiting by the front door all ready to go, dressed in her uniform. My heart broke. I couldn’t tell her he was probably hung over from a drunken Friday night and couldn’t wake up to come get her. I did what most moms want to do, we want to make it all better, we want to make their suffering go away. But it doesn’t.
If you’re a single mom reading this, you already know you are living less than God’s design for the family. When a spouse leaves the home or you had to leave for your well being, it creates emotional turmoil for the entire family, but for children, it can be confusing and scary. If your children are little they may struggle to know why now they have to go between two homes. Or it may seem that they are adjusting to the new living arrangements but you start to notice while they are with you they are becoming defiant and willful.
The good news is we as parents play a major role in helping our children adjust. There is a Proverb in the bible that goes like this “When God approves of your life, even your enemies will end up shaking your hand.” In other words, you worry about living your life right and even your ex will thank you one day. Ok, for me that day was many, many years later but even he could not deny that our daughters turned out well due to my perseverance and commitment to them.
Here are some strategies that can help reduce the fallout of a broken home.
- Co-parent peacefully. For as much as it is within your control speak respectfully to and about the other parent. Remember this is your child’s father whom they love. You are entitled to your feelings about him, but it is important to keep them to yourself. Your children will grow and in time will be able to have their own understanding of the situation. Being hostile toward your ex will only create distress for your child.
- Don’t put your kids in the middle. Your kids want to love you both. Asking your kids which parent they like best will create a conflict within the child and cause them more distress.
- Maintain a healthy relationship with your child. Now more than ever your child needs to know you are there for them. This can be best communicated to them in ways only you know best. Is it some one-on-one time? Is it intentional quiet time before bed? Is it kicking a ball around with them? Or is it a conversation that you have riding to and from school.
- Use consistent discipline. I know this can be difficult. You may be feeling guilty or sad about their new situation, but having strong boundaries with your kids builds security. Children need to know where the line is, what is expected of them, and when they overstep the line there should be a consequence or punishment. Having clear boundaries is essential for a balanced and healthy life, especially when your child’s life may be feeling unbalanced.
Healthy choices grow healthy kids, and in the end isn’t that what we want? You must believe that you are the most significant influence in the life of your child. Being a mom is a life-changing responsibility that comes with an immeasurable payout.