Category Archives: parents

The Importance of Fathers

 
Father’s Day brings up so many varied emotions in people – respect, love, sadness, anger, fear, longing and often apathy. It is rarely neutral, however. I am always touched when I see the loving connection of fathers and children at church. I think “These kids will have a distinct advantage in life.”
 
I could roll out all kinds of statistics showing the correlation between those who are in the prison system and fatherlessness. But those are well known to most of us and there is little disagreement. But the impact of fathers goes far beyond simply being physically present or absent in a child’s life. The emotional connection is a huge force in the life of a son or daughter. 
 
I have seen grown up men break down and cry when talking about their fathers. I have seen gentle men tense up and get uncharacteristically angry when the subject of father came up. I have seen girls weep over the relationship that never quite solidified because their dads did not try to really know them.
 
But I have also heard many really warm stories about how dads are heroes or role models or protectors. And I am not just talking about bio-dads, but those who have stepped into the role and done a remarkable job.
 
Interesting facts:  
 
  • Girls with a good relationship with their father are less likely to be promiscuous. 
  • Kids with a strong father relationship are less likely to get in serious trouble with the law. 
  • Kids with a father to back up their mother are more likely to learn to accept authority. 
  • Kids with a father in the home are less likely to abuse drugs and alcohol. 
  • Boys with a good father model are more likely to respect and treat women well. 
  • Kids with a strong father connection are more likely to take necessary risks and be more self confident. 
  • Having a positive relationship with a father dramatically shapes our view of God 

This is in no way to dismiss the incredible jobs that many single moms do, but most single moms I know wish they had a strong good man in house to share the load.

I am going to post a link on my Facebook page to my Dropbox with an audio file worth listening to. It is from a recovery series by Daryl Pitts on the View of God. I really recommend that you listen to it – and send me feedback. It is my Father’s Day gift to you.    

Is Marital Happiness A Myth?

 

As a teenager I had a belief that marriage was a downhill road. The happiest a couple would ever be would be at the time of the wedding and the honeymoon. My parents didn’t seem all that thrilled to be raising three children. Oh, we felt loved and all, but life as a married couple didn’t look like a joyful experience for them.

Little did I know that I was only half right.

As you can see from the chart above, we do start out at a high point of satisfaction. So far, so good. But then the decline begins, just as I imagined. But there is a bounce that happens somewhere around 25 years into the marriage. So what is going on?

Back then I was right about my parents’ relationship. The interaction between me and my siblings and our parents was often stressing them out. All of the things that kids require cost time and money, and often end up in endless conflicts of one sort or another. We were no different. If you look back on your teenage years, you will probably agree with me. It was not a particularly easy time.

But kids don’t stay around forever (hopefully) and when the emotional and financial burden eases up, things start to get better for the marriage. If you haven’t damaged your relationship beyond repair, have stayed connected, and have prepared for the future, life together becomes much more satisfying. In fact, the last years together are often even better than the first.Recently I overheard a conversation my Dad was having with the pastor at my Mom’s memorial. He said “The best thing we ever did was produce and raise our three children. That’s what I am proud of.” So don’t get discouraged.The important thing to note here is the normalcy and predictability of the curve.

People have often told us that our relational happiness is due to the fact that we did not get blessed with children. They are partly right, and statistics validate that point of view. The other part is the intentional work that we have put into the marriage to stay emotionally and spiritually connected. In truth, we have been blessed with many children through the counseling and teaching work that we do at church. God has not abandoned us.

For some, the curve will not be their normal. Unforeseen occurrences can change things, such as children with special needs that do not fit the regular developmental timelines. Early medical issues may crop up or disastrous financial situations. They can have a significant impact on us. That is when relying on God becomes especially crucial. I have found that many that have faced tough circumstances still manage to find joy and satisfaction in their marriage when they embrace each other in spiritual unity.>

And for others the sailing is much smoother than the curve shows — there is not the financial stress, or the kids you have produced have very easygoing temperaments. And then there are the grandchildren as rewards.

Does the chart look hopeful to you? Are you at the beginning of the journey or ready to get started? Are you at the bottom of the curve and ready for the upswing? Or are you smiling because it is behind you and you know that it is true?

So, to answer the question — no, marriage happiness is not a myth — not if you take the full ride.

Too Close

Although many of us may come from emotionally disconnected families, some of us come from inappropriately connected ones. This might be the result of a “too close” bond with one of our parents. In her book “Emotional Incest”, Dr. Pat Love provides this checklist to help us determine if we are a “chosen child”.

  1. I felt closer to one parent than the other.
  2. I was a source of emotional support for one of my parents
  3. I was “best friends” with a parent.
  4. A parent shared confidences with me.
  5. A parent was deeply involved in my activities or in developing my talents.
  6. A parent took a lot of pride in my abilities or achievements.
  7. I was given special privileges or gifts by one of my parents.
  8. One of my parents told me in confidence that I was the favorite, most talented, or most lovable child.
  9. A parent thought I was better company than his or her spouse.
  10. I sometimes felt guilty when I spent time away from one of my parents.
  11. I got the impression a parent did not want me to marry or move far away from home.
  12. When I was young I idolized one of my parents.
  13. Any potential boyfriend or girlfriend of mine was never “good enough” for one of my parents.
  14. A parent seemed overly aware of my sexuality.
  15. A parent made inappropriate sexual remarks or violated my privacy.

If several to many of these statements apply to you, you may have (or had) an enmeshed relationship with one of your parents. Most often these overly close bonds are with the parent of the opposite sex.

The results can be manifold.

  • You may feel deep reluctance when trying to get a healthy distance from, or set appropriate boundaries with that parent.
  • You may feel a vague sense of violation, but feel guilty because of your belief that they were just showing love to you. And that may be true, but the difference is in the intensity of the connection and the motivation on the part of the parent.
  • Was the parent trying to meet your needs or was the parent trying to get their emotional needs met through you? Big difference. Often this comes from an absent or difficult relationship between your parents.

If you are a parent, and find yourself getting caught up in a too close relationship with one of your children you will need to back off. The solution is to work on your marriage or to find an adult same-sex friend to share your emotional needs with.

If you, as a married person, are having difficulty “leaving and cleaving” (appropriately forming a new family system) because of one of your parents, you may need to seek some counseling to get help setting healthy guilt-free boundaries. The same applies to single people who do not really feel free to pursue a relationship because of a needy parent.