I have to be honest here…when my husband was home, because he was unsaved, I spent 99% of my focus on him. Being a godly wife to win him without a word, trying to be a godly witness to him so that he would repent and give his life to God. All of those things are great, but not if you let your kids slip through the cracks, which is exactly what I did, and I say that through tears.
My kids weren’t given the attention that they needed during that time. It was all about my husband. The attention, the devotion, the sacrificing love was all for him. I don’t know how my kids managed to cope and make it through all that without hating me. Thankfully, they were still pretty young when he took off, 4 and 6 years old.
After he left, they really acted out in some major ways because of the effects of their abandonment issues and I had to re-evaluate everything. I’M SO GLAD THEY DID. What I found was some major changes that needed to be made, not on their part, but ON MINE!!!
Helping a Child Through Abandonment
1) Starved for Love and Attention
I know it’s hard to show love to a child who is completely wreckless in behavior, who shows no regard for you or your family, but I tell you the truth, THAT is when they need it the most!
Is it not the same with us? When we feel grumpy and have lost our tempers and are angry, mad, and hurt all at the same time, what is it that we would love more than anything right then and there? I can’t speak for you, but I sure would love someone who genuinely cares to put their arm around me and tell me everything is going to be okay. To tell me they will listen to me, as long as I am talking calmly. That they WANT to understand my frustration.
In our day and age now, it is MUCH harder to be a kid than it was when I was younger. Wowzer, the things they see everyday, the things they have to deal with. I thought my childhood was hard, until I walked a mile in theirs. The peer pressure is so much stronger. The world gets eviler by the day. The selfishness, the disregard of authority is gone. Prayer is not allowed in schools, you bring a Bible with you and you’ll be automatically suspended. Even what my own children go through is sickening. The kids evil and WAY beyond in knowledge what they should be, I will just leave it at that.
Every day my son goes to school, there are 3 boys who chase him and want to hurt him. One child broke another child’s arm by pushing him down on the cement. This is first grade people! It’s mortifying!!
There are too many students, not enough teachers and the ‘good’ kids who are meek, slip through the cracks and are easy prey to bullies.
After dealing with all of that all day long, there is nothing more than your child wants than to be held in your arms, I don’t care how old they are, even teens.
Now, a side note, you must also deal with their pride. When you first begin wanting to hold them or hug them or show affection and listen, they may reject that. I remember when I started doing that with my daughter after my husband took off, it took her a good month of every day rejection and my PERSISTENCE to finally come around. Now, when I hold her, she cuddles up to me. She ASKS me to be held. The other day I found a picture of ME with stickers all around it in her binder. This from a girl who says that her friends say it’s “embarrassing to be loved on by their parents.”
She thought it was embarrassing too, but again, I was persistent. I still hold both their hands as we walk home from school. It is when you show so much love at home, that it becomes second nature to them and they don’t think about it at school. Maybe that is not true of a teen or older kids, I get that, but you can still love on them at home, and YOU MUST!!! Whether they reject it or not, they know that you care. That you’re willing to put your hurt feelings of being rejected aside for them. I do not believe that enough parents do this. I heard a stat that the average child my daughter’s age watches 6 hours of entertainment a DAY! How is that even possible. 6 hours! That’s a lot. My kids are allowed 30 mins, maybe an hour if we play the Wii as a family, but 6 hours. That’s insane.
2) It’s Not About Actions
If you really want to get down to the nitty-gritty, you cannot change a heart. You might be able to change an action, change their behavior when they are around you at best, but you can’t change their heart. It is not the action the child is doing that is so bad. Yes, if they steal, it’s wrong. Yes, if they throw a screaming fit, it’s bad, but it’s not the action we should focus on, but the underlying HEART OF REBELLION. They don’t want to obey you. That means they are being selfish and think that their way is more important than yours. They are mad because they didn’t get their way and it’s more important than you. That’s selfishness. There are many heart issues we all have, and if you want to see real changes and help a child going through emotional trauma the most, you have to get to the root of it.
I’ll put it like this. My ex-husband was and continues to be a bad man. He steals, he never tells the truth, he comits fornication, he is an apostate, he commits illegal acts, he has been in jail a few times for physical abuse and disregard of the law, and I’ll stop there though I could go on for hours. BUT he CLAIMS he’s Christian. Funny because when he left, he gave me an ultimatum, I either give up God entirely or I give up him. There’s nothing in his life that says anyone should take him seriously in his claim of Christianity. This outward evilness is just a true representation of the evil that is in his heart. He’s not saved. His heart is evil and wicked. We are all born into sin. We all sin. I can’t tell you that I’ve never lost my temper, that I’ve never been selfish seeking my own way. That I’ve never looked at something someone else has and not wanted it too. But my HEART wants to follow Christ, my HEART WANTS to obey, it’s just hard because of my flesh.
Teaching our children, whatever age they may be is NOT about actions. It’s NOT about getting them to be ‘good’ people doing whatever you tell them to do. That’s a robot. Do you really even want that?
Raising our children is about getting to their HEARTS. While God is the only One that can truly change a heart, you can help that process by molding, sculpting, and refining their hearts. You have to force yourself (and I know it’s hard in the moment) to look beyond the situation, beyond the action, and look at their HEART. What is the root cause of what they are doing? How can you help them be more Christ-like? How can you be a better role model playing out how to handle situations that come up every day? How can you lead them to Christ? These are all questions I intentionally try to ask myself daily.
There is a really fantastic sermon series by Paul Tripp called Getting to the Heart of Parenting that I’m currently going through. It breaks it all down by age and I’ve listened to my sons’ age and am now on my daughters’ age group and it is just mind-blowing!!! He speaks in a very down to earth way, something that a Christian of any length of time can fully grasp.
There are 10 sessions:
- Session 1 & 2: What is family?
- Session 3 & 4: Getting to the Heart of Behavior (see, there you go!) 🙂
- Session 5 & 6: Ages 0-5
- Session 7 & 8: Ages 6-12
- Session 9 & 10: Ages 13 and up.
I highly recommend it to anyone wanting to learn more about parenting. I am really learning a lot! I bought the DVD set, but there is a CD set and even MP3 and MP4 as well that are a little cheaper depending on your preferred method.
What have you found the most helpful in helping a child through abandonment?