Think about children; it is not all about you
I attend a Watoto church cell in my neighbourhood. We have weekly fellowships, Wednesdays. The meetings usually begin with an icebreaker.
On one particular day, the icebreaker was a simple, general question about the worst experience we had ever had in our lives. It was open. However, I noted with interest how all the answers rotated around family and/or relationships of our parents. I will not reveal identities or specify who said what.
For two of the members, their worst was watching their parents go through divorce. The other said when his mother left home while he was still a young boy (I will tell you my realizations from this confession in the subsequent paragraphs), for another it was not knowing the whereabouts of their father while another it was growing apart from their biological mother.
It then hit me how normally when two consenting adults indulge in relationship – which usually starts on the basis of liking someone for whatever reasons – there is no consideration of how that relationship will build or break the offspring(s). The child(ren) by the way do not choose to be birthed as a result of the relationship. As a matter of fact, no child choses which parents they are born to and often the children have little or no opportunity of keeping their parents relationships in cohesion. It is up to the parents.
For the boy who found his mother gone after a certain term in boarding school, it was really painful and confusing. His mother left them! How can a mother leave her home, her offspring? Well she did. However, he says he understood her because for long he had watched her suffer in silence. He was hurt and confused but somehow he also understood and sympathized with his mother.
This made me think of countless mothers who have developed tough skin in abusive, loveless, ambition-killing, character-sucking relationships just for the sake of their children. The mothers who could/cannot not imagine leaving their children behind even when they could/can see a possibility of a fresh start. I am sure you get the picture – you might even know some. I believe it applies to fathers too. They “man up”, sacrifice their lives for the sake of the children, hang in there and keep the family moving.
When parents have pulled out claws against each other – which is usually an ugly sight marred with the crudest of accusations against one another – do you ever think of not dragging your children in the mud that you dug up? Yes, tempers have flared, you are hurt, there is mistrust or whatever reasons driving you to an ugly separation but please think about the children. They too are hurt by watching their parents fight. They are even more hurt by the words mummy calls daddy and vice versa. They are hurt by having to choose sides and grow up apart from another parent. If you can have them stay with a relative while you tear each other apart, that would help. Not that I support fighting but if you cannot help it, try to keep the children out of it. Also endeavor to explain to them objectively – I know this seems unrealistic in such situations but there is always some ‘diplomacy’ left in you. You are not just adults but parents!
I have friends and former schoolmates who had what I call “absentee fathers.” Their stories made me, from a young age, differentiate between being able to have children and being a parent. In high school we had scrap books that usually had mini biographies. One of the question that never missed from those mischievous books was a question about a dream man. I never really had a list of an “ideal man” but one thing I am sure of is to look out for is the commitment of this man to being a father. How that will be determined, God should help.
One of my friends says they had to beg their father to confess if he had another family elsewhere so that they know how to account for his gap in the family. They were so tired of the speculation concerning his whereabouts that they were ready to embrace other siblings or another wife/family if they were the ones taking his time.
Another irony of life is the pressure that costs of living have subjected us to so much that we think ‘abandoning’ children somewhere while we make a living for them is the way of life. There is a special and irreplaceable parent-child bond that is lost while parents are trying to make way for a “better life” for the children. We need grace!
It all starts with liking someone, then a decision to get into a relationship, that probably leads into marriage or having children. Whenever you are making up or breaking up with someone, think about the children. Your actions and decisions however wise, reasonable or foolish are not just about the two of you. They affect the children too – a great deal – yet they didn’t have a choice in this.
Think about the children!