Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. — Matthew 7:1–2 NKJV
And the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate. — Mark 10:8–9
Paula stood next to the toaster in her kitchen. It was 5:00 a.m. She was so angry she could scream.
She also knew she was wrong and needed to apologize. She knew her retort had spewed venom, but all she could focus on was how her husband’s words had stung. She had to admit, though, that he was right; she had placed their daughter’s needs above his. But did he need to respond so curtly?
She was mad at herself for blowing it, but she was also angry and hurt. Yes, she had spent a good amount of time with Ava and the dance team and the other kids might be jealous, but she also felt like her husband didn’t get it. She was frustrated with him for not understanding. She wanted to enjoy her daughter without being made to feel guilty.
Even so, while she didn’t feel it, she knew the next right thing God would have her do. It was time for humble pie.
As she wrote the note, apologizing, her heart was not yet in alignment with the words, but she allowed the Holy Spirit to guide her pen.
I’m sorry, Martin, for the distance I’ve created between the two of us. I know you want what is best for Ava as well as the rest of the family. I’ll admit that I’ve been focused on Ava’s success with the dance team. I see such potential for her, and it warms my heart to see all the awards she receives as a result of her obvious giftedness. She positively glows when she is on stage, so when she is chosen for solos, it’s hard to say no. I know that most of my weekends are tied up with travel with the team, but I don’t want to miss a moment of her success. We agreed I would travel with her. I guess I didn’t realize how much that would entail and how it would impact the rest of the family.
You are right in that I’ve not been tuned in to our marriage as much as I should be. I guess I’ve just been thinking of this time with Ava as a season of life that will soon be gone. I know you and I will always be here after she graduates in a few years. Please forgive me for not looking at the big picture of our family and our marriage. Can we talk tonight around 8:00 when I get home? I’d like to talk through what you are feeling and what happened this morning. We also need to talk about Ava’s commitment to the team. I do love you.
After she put the note on the dashboard of Martin’s car, she went to her room to pray.
Teach me, Father. I feel like I am the one who always has to apologize first. I hate it when he hurls words at me that sting. Can’t we just have a conversation about what is bothering him rather than making me feel like a verbal punching bag? His anger gets so out of control. I want to feel cherished by him. I want us to discuss simple family decisions rather than receive ultimatums.
And then Genesis 2 came to mind. He needs your help… he is not complete without you,1 the familiar voice spoke to her heart. Then,
And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. — Matthew 7:3–5 NKJV
“Oh, Lord, you are so right. I’m feeling like Martin is being selfish for wanting me home all the time, but maybe I’m being selfish for wanting to be with Ava so much. I guess I have put her above him, above the rest of the kids, above You. Lord, how can I show him how much his words hurt? It makes me want to be away from him. Life is better at the dance studio. I get to enjoy the experience rather than feel like I am always needed or have something to do or am going to disappoint him yet again.”
As Paula let the words she had just spoken sink into her heart, she sensed God’s presence.
Parenting takes two perspectives. The kids need to see you parenting together — not separately.
“Thank You for showing me this, Lord. Help Martin and me learn not only to respectfully keep our tongues in check, but help us learn to be on the same page as we parent, willing to listen to the other’s opinion.”
The salt-seasoned dish of grace calmed her heart, and her swollen and bruised ego vanished. She found herself looking forward to her discussion with Martin later that night. They were on this journey of parenting together, and they needed to learn how to best do it as a team. Paula chose to extend the same grace to herself and her husband and to ask God to fill her with His grace for everyone in her family more consistently.
Bottom line: Choose humility, and you are more likely to parent in agreement.
Parenting during the tween and teen years can sometimes wreak havoc on marriage communication. Scripture tells us in Genesis that the “two shall become one”2 and we need to remember that also applies in the context of parenting. Even if we are separated or divorced, we will still, at some point, find ourselves in situations where we are co-parenting and disagree with the other party. We can potentially avoid conflict with our husbands or co-parents if we handle these situations of relationship collision better.
It is easy as parents to get so focused on our own desires or pride in what we want for ourselves or a particular child that we can easily lose a bigger family perspective. But God can help us keep our focus on our own behavior during times of conflict if we approach our spouses or co-parents with humility and learn to rely on God for introspection.
It is important that we model a sense of family for our children.
Tweens and teens need to see that their moms and dads have conflict but can resolve it well. They also need to see that family is the highest priority, not just mom and child.
A day will come when our kids leave the nest. It is important that they have a sense of family to return home to.
What About You?
- It is important that we not only initiate conversation often on how we are going to co-parent but also be mindful of our husbands’ hot buttons. What are the things you know are precious to him? What parenting philosophy does he embrace that greatly differs with your desires? Do you side with your child instead of with him? When your child has a request, does your husband want you to consult him?
- Ask God and yourself whether you often choose your child’s desires instead of your husband’s. Do you have a particular child whom you seem to pour into more than the others? Ask your husband for his perspective.
- What parameters have you set up in your life that enable you to spend time with God reading His Word, thanking Him for what He has given you, asking Him for guidance, praying for others, and listening to Him for direction? What can you do to create an environment or structure in your life that facilitates time with Him on a daily basis?
- When has God helped you see a situation differently? Did you thank Him? Take a few moments now to give Him appreciation for guiding your steps and transforming your mind.
- Where in your family do you see potential areas of jealousy? How could you use empathy, compassion, and apology to restore things in a healthier way?
- What do you sense God wanting you to do with this? How did today’s verse impact what you sense from Him? What action are you going to take based on what He has revealed to you?
Pray with us:
I want to be like the tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. May the watering of relationships in my home cause them to prosper. Help me delight in You, Lord, and help me meditate on Your Word day and night. It is so easy to look side to side, sizing up how I am doing based on how I feel others are doing. Surround me with women who will teach me what it is like to have mercy on others so that I can model that in my home and in other relationships. Help me stand strong and choose grace and forgiveness in all circumstances. In a home of sinful people, there is so much opportunity to feel as if I am the person who is always right. Humble me, and open my eyes to see other perspectives. When I am in error, give me the strength and humility to apologize, and when I have been wronged, help me forgive those who sin against me just like You forgive me, as You command us to do in Scripture.
When I am hurt at others’ reactions, help me always offer an apology and forgiveness. Help me model this for my children so they will see Christ in me.
In Jesus’ name,
- Genesis 2:18: “The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.’”
- Genesis 2:24 NKJV: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”
Excerpted with permission from With All Due Respect: 40 Days To A More Fulfilling Relationship With Your Teens and Tweens by Nina Roesner and Debbie Hitchcock, copyright Nina Roesner and Debbie Hitchcock.
Come share some of your answers to the questions above in the comments! How are you parenting with perspective? We’d love to hear from you!