Being a good parent means letting your kids see what you are made of when hard times hit. They need to see you fight. Not that angry selfish rage-aholic kind of fighting, but an intelligent fight against the negative things that attack us in our daily lives. Those thoughts that we foolishly allow into our heads, the negative emotions and attitudes that can churn inside of us. They need to see how we engage in this fight, and part of it is how we fight against our own selfish nature.
That includes the ability to apologize, be humble and show our kids that we mean it when we decide to change for the better. A child who witnesses mom or dad struggling through a decision to quit an addiction, to forgive an offense, to stop being negative or to overcome some obstacle, becomes more firmly bonded to his or her parent than those who live in a fantasy world that their parents can do no wrong. A parent who admits their faults and faces them bravely becomes a hero in their child's eyes.
Sarah had had enough of her husband's drinking problem. She had tried so hard to make her marriage work, and at times he looked like he was really changing. But evidence proved that he was secretly indulging in his addiction. She did all she could to hide it from her daughter, who knew things were bad, but didn't know why. Little Tyler heard the arguments, felt the tension of the silent treatment and saw the tears in her mother's eyes. But when she asked what was wrong, all she got was, "Don't worry, we're just disagreeing. Just pray, God will take care of it." Tyler was insecure, unhappy and was starting to get into trouble in school. The two people she loved the most in the world couldn't get along, and she was just expected to be ignore it.
When Sarah finally decided to move out, it was the hardest thing to explain to Tyler why they were leaving Daddy. Sarah didn't believe that Tyler deserved to know the truth. Holding it back only confused Tyler, and caused her to resent her mother. Without the right information, all Tyler knew was that her mother had just torn the family apart by walking out on the father she loved. Sarah mistakenly thought she was protecting her child by hiding her marriage problems. In fact, Sarah was being proud. Revealing her faults to Tyler would be humiliating. I had to tell her that this was the perfect time to teach her daughter valuable lessons, and give her the tools to know how to deal with any kind of adversity.
Sarah asked me to help explain things to Tyler, and she was amazed at how well her little daughter was able to understand what had happened and what needed to be done.
All the energy that Sarah had wasted in hiding the truth, she was able to use to a much more effective way. I taught both Tyler and Sarah that now was the time to fight. Daddy had an addiction. They had to fight this spirit that wanted to destroy him and destroy their family as well. They weren't going to fight Tyler's Dad or be angry with him - they should still love and pray for him. But they had to fight the evil that was working. This separation was a way to help him, not hurt him.
When Tyler was given her "mission" to fight in prayer with Mommy every day, the sad and confused little girl became a very brave and focused one. Sarah had to admit that she hadn't been the best wife, and hadn't fought in faith like she could have. But this time was different, and this time they would be blessed. Even if he didn't want to change and the marriage had to end - they would be blessed.
Sarah had to take down her facade of being the perfect mom with everything under control. It was such a thin facade anyway, that it wasn't fooling Tyler one bit. Showing her daughter that she had made mistakes and that her father was an imperfect man, allowed God to teach them all a perfect and beautiful lesson about Himself.
Through the struggle of faith, both Sarah and Tyler became stronger and more connected with God and with each other. The end of the story is that Sarah's marriage has been healed, and her husband has not only stopped drinking, but is actively changing the negative attitudes that had fed his addiction. I know - not all marriage problems have a happy ending, even with faith involved. But even if he had refused to change, Sarah and Tyler would have had the wisdom and strength to move on, because they learned to fight.
So happy Mother's Day moms! Fight, and teach your children to fight. Let them see you fight, even stumble, get up and fight more. Fight for your faith to become the greatest legacy to hand down to your children - a faith that is courageous and says no to evil. Amazing how loving peaceful homes can come from fighting mothers.