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A House Divided
I have walked through multiple family break-ups with children who were my clients. Though divorce is never easy, the actions of the parents toward one another can ease or exacerbate the inevitable struggles between opposing parties. Here are the attitudes I hear that signal a long and troublesome future.
1. Each parent says they are working for the common good, but they spend more time fighting one another than doing anything to better the family.
2. Parents fight over who should pay for the children’s medical bills, education, and nutritional needs.
3. One parent ruins every celebration by refusing to attend if the other one is there, or by fighting with the other parent at the celebration.
4. Each parent has some helpful ideas for the family, but they hate each other so much that they won’t listen to the other parent’s ideas even for the common good of the family.
5. One parent calls the other parent names like “idiot” and “stupid.” Name calling never helps to build a family.
6. One parent is always trying to convince the naive and innocent that the other parent is sleeping with the enemy, or at least associating with someone who will be bad for the family.
7. Children are told that the other parent doesn’t really care about the well-being of the family.
8. One parent says the other parent is spending their money on extravagances instead of necessities for the family.
9. Parents undermine or veto the other parent’s workable solution to the family problems.
10. When children in the family get in trouble with the law, or when the adults in the family don’t have a job, it is always the fault of the other parent. Neither parent takes responsibility for their part in the mess the family is in.
11. Each parent claims they love their family, but obviously not enough to compromise or cooperate with the other parent to help the family heal.
12. Neither parent acknowledges that the other parent holds incredibly similar hopes and dreams for the family.
Now, go back and replace the word parent with political party or parties, and replace the word family with country. What do you notice?
I read a story about a German soldier in WWI who dropped into a shell hole only to find a wounded American soldier there, who was minutes from death. The American patted his pocket. The German soldier pulled photographs out of the pocket and held them up for the dying soldier to gaze on as the American soldier drew his final breaths. These men, who were fighting for different causes, recognized that even enemies can support one another through difficult times by considering their common humanity. It is always beneficial to consider one another’s point of view, to speak respectfully to and about one another, and to show willingness to cooperate in order to strengthen our family and our country. I am patting my pocket. Could we look at one another’s cherished photographs? I think we will understand one another better if we do. Then, maybe we can work together for the good of family and country.
“If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom will not stand. If a house is divided against itself that house cannot stand.” (Mark 3:25)
Contributed by Carolyn Primm