Yesterday, I blogged on a difficult subject: God and Marriage. One of the issues that has comes up time and time again in conversations is how do you balance kids and marriage. Not an easy topic to tackle for sure! Kids complicate and at the same time lift up your marriage. Kids give us joy and bring us turmoil. Kids (and finances) are the first time you learn to sacrifice your selfish desires for your spouse. No kidding. When you first got married can you remember trying to figure out who was going to pay the bills and how you were going to share the money that was coming in? Can you remember the first time you had to make a decision together about your kids’ future? I would venture to guess that it wasn’t an easy decision. There may even have been some arguing. So when we talk about divorce rates in families today, we cannot help but discuss both financial issues and trouble with kids.
One of the issues with kids is when things go badly. Maybe (like me) you have a child that has medical issues or behavioral problems. Maybe you have a child who suffers from mental illness. Maybe you have a child who is constantly making bad choices. Maybe you have a child that suffers from alcohol or drug addiction. There are so many problems that parents are faced with today. Yet did any of you have training for this during your marriage prep classes? Pete and I sure didn’t. Nobody pulled us aside and said, “Heh not all kids are perfect.” No one told us the adventures we would be faced with when we started to grow our family. No one told us that our kids could make bad choices no matter how good of parents we are. The problem is we don’t have anything to model our lives after because all kids are different. We cannot look at our own parents and make good parenting decisions because they lived in different circumstances. All we have to rely on is each other and instinct. When things go badly with our kids we tend to point fingers. Have these words ever been spoken (or thought) about in your household:
“If you would have done or said this to him/her, we wouldn’t be in this place!”
“If you would be home more often, then he/she would show more respect for us as parents.”
“If you would have disciplined better when he/she was young, then we wouldn’t be faced with these issues.”
“If you would do your job as a housewife, then our kids wouldn’t make these choices.”
“If only I would have treated my body better during pregnancy, then these medical issues wouldn’t have happened to my child.”
“Maybe I have done something to him/her to make him/her this way.”
“Maybe God is punishing me for something in my past.”
All of these comments go on in our brains. They are doubts that arise during parenting. I know because Pete and I have beaten ourselves up over why Katie has behavioral issues and seizures. We have blamed each other and ourselves. Our doubts could have ruined our marriage, but we chose God over doubt. Thank goodness!
One of the best lessons that I have ever been taught is that my own kids are not my possessions. My kids belong to God. They are children of God. God has entrusted their care to me. I love this because it reminds me that my kids are entrusted to me not because I deserved them, not because I purchased them, not because I own them, but because God gave me the opportunity to raise them for Him. Whether you have adopted your children or given birth to your children, they are not your possessions. Nope. They are God’s children. He gave you this opportunity. What you do with this opportunity is now up to you. You can choose to raise them without asking God for help, or you can raise them with God’s strength. I choose the latter.
If Pete and I were to dwell on all the mistakes we make as parents, I can tell you right now we would be miserable. I make parental mistakes every day. I try to learn from these mistakes. I do my best to ask God daily for strength. I constantly pray to God to show me what He needs me to do.
Kids can be part of the problem in a marriage for sure, but they also can lift up your marriage. Recognize now that kids are not your possessions. Kids are not a way for you to re-live your childhood. Kids are not an opportunity for you to show your own parents what they did wrong. Kids are a way for you to connect closer to God. They are a way for you to see God’s beauty. They are your pathway to a greater faith life.
If you are having issues with your own marriage that revolves around your children, ask God for help today. Reconnect individually with your faith. Find a way to keep God first in your life. No one can parent effectively without God. Exhaustion, depression and constant worry are all signs that you have pushed God away and are trying to tackle parenting on your own. Don’t do this! Remind yourself that we all have the ability to be good parents, if we just ask God for help.