I have the opportunity to moderate a few private Facebook groups for women in difficult Christian marriages, for Christian women who are separated/divorced, and for Christian single moms. And one gal shared this recently:
“I’m afraid my disillusionment with marriage will cloud my children’s happy day someday.”
Ahh, yes. I think we all struggle with this, especially if our marriages and/or divorces were especially painful and contentious. We must live out our lives authentically in front of our children so that they can learn the process of embracing pain, accepting reality, asking God for healing, and moving forward, and yet, we need to be so very careful that we do not take our children down with our sinking ship of emotions.
So how as single moms who have suffered through a divorce can we prepare our children for marriage without passing on our potential lens of bitterness?
Pray. Here’s the beauty and the mystery of God…though we are delightfully – and sometimes frustratingly – given free will, he already knows who our children will end up marrying. So go to him with your concerns, ask him to heal your children of their child-of-divorce wounds, and begin praying for their spouses now.
Check your own healing. Are you still bitter at your ex? If so, you still have some forgiving work to do, which will free you up to teach your children that marriage truly is a gift.
Be appropriately authentic. It would be doing a disservice to your kids not to share with them (in age-appropriate ways, of course) why your marriage ended, but you must tread carefully here. Do not throw your ex-husband under the bus. Be open about owning your part in your marriage’s demise, along with what you wish you had done differently.
Provide them with other marriage examples. Make sure your kids have plenty of opportunities to spend time with other families where the marriage is not just intact but healthy and happy. This will help to chip away at any preconceived notion that all marriages are horrible. Because they are not.
Encourage them to come up with a wishlist for their mates. Brainstorm with your child character traits that they should be praying and looking for. Make sure their bar is raised nice and high. Just because their parents are no longer together does not mean that they should settle for, for instance, someone who doesn’t cheat. Instill in your son and daughter that God wants them to have whole marriages and wants them to be and have good, kind, supportive spouses.
As mothers, we have a high calling to prepare our children for leaving our homes, living out their lives in godly ways, and making wise decisions. And as part of our jobs, we must be moving towards wholeness and holiness so we can pour out to our children what God intends. What steps today can you take to become more whole?
Elisabeth Klein is the author of Unraveling: Hanging Onto Faith Through the End of a Christian Marriage, speaker and a member of Redbud Writers’ Guild. She led a women’s ministry in her church for ten years. She currently leads small groups, writes, and speaks to women surrounding faith, difficult marriage, domestic abuse, divorce and single parenting issues. She lives with her two teenage children in Illinois. Visit her online at http://www.elisabethklein.com.
The Life of a Single Mom is a national organization headquartered in Baton Rouge, Louisiana that focuses on seeing no single mom walk alone. The organization serves more than 50,000 single mothers annually from around the United States and more than 2,000 in Greater Baton Rouge through their support group network, outreach event, educational classes, online communities, and more. For more information, visit www.thelifeofasinglemom.com