Focus on Your Home
Don't spend all your time trying to shelter your children from the other parent.
Judy, a single mom, has a tough time sending her kids to their father's for the weekend. She is angry about the divorce and does everything she can to sabotage the visitation arrangements. She makes the kids call her every night they are with him and gets frustrated if they forget. When they return, she interrogates them about their visits. She wants to know what they ate, whom they met and details about every activity.
Her motive? She wants to build a case to stop, or at least limit, the time the kids have with their dad. Judy is driven by emotion. Though she doesn't realize the damage she is inflicting, the kids suffer. They feel uncomfortable with her questioning, don't understand her anxiety and often feel pulled in two directions.
The use of time
While it's normal to worry about what influences the children, don't spend all your time trying to shelter your children from the other parent — a person who has every right to be a part of their lives.
We're not talking about the children's safety. Protection from harm is a different matter. This is about allowing your former spouse to be a parent, even when you have different values and parenting styles.
Making it count
Be intentional in the time you spend with your children. Don't waste time and energy trying to prevent things you cannot control. If you already have a full plate with your job and basic household responsibilities, use the rest of your day wisely. Love and disciple your children. Eat a meal with them. Play games and allow yourself to laugh with abandon. Cheer your kids in their sports activities and close their day with prayer, drawing them to the One who can protect them best.
Giving up control
Letting go of what is happening in the other home is not easy. Ultimately, you have to trust that God is bigger than your former spouse's influence. Remind yourself that God watches over your children 24/7.
This article first appeared in the July 2005 issue of the Single-Parent Family edition of the Focus on the Family magazine. Copyright © 2005, Gary Sprague. All rights reserved.