Marriage & Family - A lifetime of selflessness

I remember when I was on the facebook bandwagon (so glad I got off!) someone who was on my friends list, who is not the most discreet of women, had a nasty argument publicly with her fiancee. It was short and not so sweet but enough to get me thinking (and my blood boiling to be honest!). The status was something along the lines of “first night back and he is out with his mates instead of home to see his kids after being away, your daughter is asking for you, when will she expect you home you pathetic excuse for a father!” Good Lord! (the man in this relationship worked away for weeks at a time). Then his response was something like this “Don’t use her as a reason for an argument, she knows I love her, I’ll be home tomorrow and will take her with me” the response was along the lines of alot of swearing and how he doesn’t love his kids and so on. His response to that was more swearing and saying “you fob those kids off any chance you get, who looks after them all weekend while you go out? I work away so much, where’s my break?, I have no life since I’ve been with you”

This couple is no longer together and daddy rarely sees his children. Mummy has since decided to pursue a career due to "boredom" and the kids are looked after nanna most days. Sigh. Let's learn from them.

At first glance it seems that daddy is the problem, boozing with his mates instead of getting in some quality time with the kids... but a comment or two in and we realise that mummy has a few issues up her sleeve too, I mean other than the disgraceful public display of disrespect for her partner. The more I read, the more I felt sorry for those kids. All because of mum and dad’s selfishness, these little ones are growing up in a home full of strife, spite and two parents who are so caught up in their own wants and “needs” that the kids are left by the wayside. Not once in the argument did we actually hear concern for the children. Sure, the kids were used to try to place guilt in each other, but the motive certainly was NOT to improve the children’s lives in any way shape or form. The motives were to seem like victims in an “unfair one-sided “ relationship. This argument was about THEM not the family unit.

As an onlooker it’s plain to see the solution is simple. Other than the completely obvious, that this household is currently without Christ and need Him (please pray!), they need to Communicate with each other, sort out fair arrangements, discuss when feeling down or trapped, help each other, understand each others workload even though they are quite different and for goodness sakes put your children first in everything!

As simple as it seems, when one is caught up in the world of me, myself and I, they are blind to the fact that A: They are a huge part of the problem B: they are making others suffer because they aren’t getting what they want, when they want it, how they want it. Even their kids.

Yes, everyone deserves a break sometimes, but a mother need not go out all weekend every weekend and then hate on her partner when he goes out when it’s not convenient for her. And although Mumma has issues here, daddy should definitely come home first to show his family that they are priority. The boys can surely wait for one or two nights. In this situation another problem is that pending emotions have been left too long abandoned to bubble and boil within the imagination. Instead of having a good talk about how things are going down and how a person is feeling, they have let loose, let go of family responsibilities and just done what they FEEL like doing rather than what they should be doing, using the partners same wrong actions as an excuse. All the while leaving the little ones to feel more loved by grandma or aunty than their parents, seeing as they get more one on one, real attention from these people than their own parents.

Yes, although I haven’t experienced it, the every day of raising children can become a drudgery to some, but only if you are not taking control of your emotions and selfish urges. Raising kids should be a joy and an honour. If it’s not, we are deep in selfishness and neglecting our role as parents. Yes we all have our off days, but you ought not to be having an off week or year! You see, if little Johnny and little Annie are a handful and scream and shout when upset and are generally unpleasant, they learned it from mummy or daddy. So if this is what a person is dealing with, they have themselves to blame. Mummy, you are the atmosphere setter in the home. How you feel is how you’ll act and how you act depicts how the kids feel and how the kids feel depicts how they will act, and they will act in accordance to what they saw you doing when YOU felt that way. Get it?

So if you’re a miserable parent, it’s your own fault. Change your attitude, get some counselling and start thinking outside of yourself. Not only will your kids be better off for it but your partner will certainly notice a difference too and benefit from it.

In fact if you are miserable in any relationship, just check how far past yourself you are looking. Because in misery lies the root of selfishness. Sure, you may have had some unfair things laid upon you, or some discouraging words spoken to you or something, everyone has that happen to them at some stage. You may have even been abused somehow, and in this case you ought to seek refuge and help. But this does not excuse you from being the master of your own thoughts. You have to pull yourself together. As parents, it’s not about us anymore. If you feel like you have no life, the problem is then, that you don’t know what life is. When you have children, your life should be cantered on them. It may sound like a Martyr mentality, but it is not. Once you have your priorities straight you will see that it is indeed a more pleasant life all round. When you are putting your family first, everything else will fall into place. The right job (if any) the right friends, the right hobbies and the right goals. If you’re keeping your kids and spouse in mind when making life decisions, big or small, you will make the right decisions and you will keep harmony in your family. But if you make decisions based on how your feeling at the time you are bound to wind up disappointing, neglecting and or failing your family in some way. Weather you realise it or not, that will be a huge blow to your self-esteem and your life in general.

The best way to work out if you’re being selfish is to check your motives. Why do you feel the need to go out 2 or three nights a week and leave bub with a babysitter? If it’s because you want to feel like your 20 again, or because you want to escape your responsibilities and let loose... it’s a wrong motive. But if it’s because you know that quality time spent with good friends is very relaxing for you and just helps you to stay balanced and happy at home, it’s okay. BUT then it’s a case of assessing your decisions. Two nights a week really isn’t necessary, most mums I know only have “girls get togethers” or “nights out” once a fortnight to once a month at the most because they are too busy being mums or aren’t interested in doing it any more than that as they are content with their families. Cut down to one night a week at the most, if this works for your partner, or change to lunches while the kids are at school. Change the way you do things so that your kids still feel number one.

Plus, think of your partner. If he has been working hard all week and then has to spend the weekend nights without you, he may feel left by the wayside. You may not be partying with your girlfriends like this worldly woman does, but even allowing hobbies or meetings to fill up your weekend to the point of neglecting your husband is wrong. Although it’s nice for him to have that time with the kids, he really only has before their bedtime with them, then he is alone waiting for you when it’s the only time he can stay up late and enjoy your company among other things and you are not there. Or if you’re the one working and your partner is at home all the time, sure, you deserve a night out sometimes, but time it right. Don’t just go and let your spouse know you won’t be home for dinner at 4pm. Pre-plan, give the chef the proper notice and even ASK if it’s okay if there is nothing planned. Spontaneity is for singles. Leave it at the door when you are married unless you’re doing something spontaneous as a couple.

We mustn’t forget, when we say those marriage vows we are binding ourselves to each other for life. We are supposed to be each other’s best friends, greatest counsellor, greatest encourager and helper. A husband and wife are supposed to be a team. If we are each other’s worst enemies it’s a recipe for disaster and divorce, not to mention the damage it will do on young impressionable children, and teens who are just looking for an excuse to rebel against your authority. If mum and dad can’t get along and respect each other, they will lose a child emotionally at first, then when that child becomes a teen, or perhaps earlier, the child will lose all respect for the parents and we all know the mess that makes.

Don’t forget, you have had your years of childhood and it’s time to grow up and allow your children to have theirs. Maybe you were raised in a home where your parents did a bad job with you...all the more reason to be determined to make sure you do not do the same to your kids. Did your mum spend her days chatting on the phone and her nights out drinking? Well you should know how it feels to be neglected and should spend your days and nights doing things that will make them feel loved and secure and make you a good mother and better person. Or maybe you were raised by the model parents who did everything (well, most things) right by you and you’ve taken it for granted. In that instance, grasp how good you actually had it (and thank them while you’re at it!) and look to them as an example of what you should be doing for your family. Or perhaps your on the total other end of the scale and your mum and dad were overboard spoilers and you were a spoiled brat who got everything you wanted when you wanted it, however you wanted it and that’s why your selfish now. In that case, realise this, repent of it, and swallow life’s pill that is called “growing up”. As adults, our time to be selfish and centre of attention is over. It’s now your children’s turn. Give them your love, attentive care and make them priority in your life, all the while teaching them not to expect this from everyone else all the time. It’s a humbling and fulfilling job if you’ll only just take it on with an open heart!

So in conclusion, let us be ever mindful of the fact that marriage is not about ourselves but about how we can be pleasing towards our husbands (in which, if you are truly doing this you WILL receive the same eventually because LOVE NEVER FAILS) and also, we have a responsibility to our children to be peacemakers, joyful and optimistic to promote a healthy home and selfless children who are secure, happy and have a good example to follow. Just leave “me” at the door and fight your flesh to be wonderful for those around you. Not that we should need an incentive, but here’s one anyway: like everything else in life, the more you put into marriage the more you’ll get out of it. Be blessed as you become a blessing in your own home.

A few related verses:

1 Corinthians 10:33 "Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved."

James 3:14-16 (this scripture can also be translated with the word “selfishness” where strife is.)
“But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, and devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.”

Colossians 3:31
“Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.”

Colossians 3:12-13
“Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering, forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any; even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.”