Family life can be messy. It’s especially messy when your children are young. Let’s face it – those of us who have kids under the age of 10 are still deep in the learning stage of parental life. We don’t know what the next year or developmental stage will feel or look like because we haven’t been there.
Few things create stress on your marriage like having kids. Sure, children bring a sense of joy, but they also bring stress. One of the most frequent causes of relational conflict and frustration comes from being married to a “Sideline Dad” or a “Lone Ranger Mom”. These types of parents create very dysfunctional home environments. How do you know if you might be a Sideline Dad and Lone Ranger Mom? Check and see if you fit the mold:
|Sideline Dad||Lone Ranger Mom|
|You dread coming home from work because you’re going to be asked and expected to play with your young kids.||You’re the Rescuer in Chief. You never let your kids feel the pain of the consequences of their actions.|
|You just “can’t” put the baby to bed or change a diaper.||The only topic of discussion on date night – if there is a date night – is the kids.|
|When your wife leaves the house you set limits on how long she can be gone based on your self-imposed parenting limitations. (i.e. You can only handle the little one for an hour at a time by yourself)||Your child is the priority relationship in your life – not your husband. Little Johnny’s needs always supersede his.|
|You constantly use your 8-9 hour “exhausting” workday as an excuse not to help with bath time or other parenting duties. Mom has to do them solo.||You struggle with trusting your kids with other people, possibly even their dad.|
|You only know what your kid’s favorite ______ is because your wife told you. You’ve never talked with them long enough to discover them yourself.||You suffer from “Only You” syndrome. You’re the only one who can: Put them to bed, feed them, watch them, care for them, etc. You never let anyone come alongside to help because you feel lost when you’re not in control.|
Sound familiar? Is this you? Is this your spouse? Let’s be honest – most of use have exhibited some of these tendencies, at least on occasion.
However, if these behaviors are normative, they are toxic to family health. If you’re married to a Sideline Dad, then you likely feel exhausted, alone, abandoned and even helpless. Not to mention resentful and angry. If you’re married to a Lone Ranger Mom you feel second class in your own home, unimportant, left out, and frustrated. In both cases relationship expectations are not being met, which leads to conflict and tension.
So what do you do? The remedy for this case always begins with humility. Do you have the courage to admit that you might be a Sideline Dad or a Lone Ranger Mom? Will you own the responsibility of your actions or lack of action? Humility is that pathway to success in any relationship, especially in marriage.
If you’re a Sideline Dad, Man Up! Seriously, get in the game. No one put you on the sideline – you chose to be there. You are essential in the emotional and spiritual development of your children beginning at birth! No excuses. No pouting. Don’t be a wimp. Play with your kid. Help at bath and bedtime. Endure the crying and screaming that your wife endures every day. It’s not babysitting – it’s being a father. Here’s the good news: If you’ve been on the sidelines and you feel like a failure – the Gospel is for you. You don’t have to let the guilt and condemnation from your past failures dictate your future. Your heavenly father is the ONLY perfect father. You don’t have to be perfect, but you do need to be present. Don’t try to make up for lost time, just get engaged in your family life. Step up to the challenge. Come home early this week and let your wife go out with her friends and come home when she wants too!
If you’re a Lone Ranger Mom ask yourself this question: Is my self-worth connected to how I perform as a mother? Quit trying to impress the other moms on Facebook. Stop parenting in response to how you were parented. Stop trying to gain the approval of your mother. Stop seeing your children as your children, but rather God’s children who have been entrusted to you. Embrace the Gospel of Jesus Christ – You have been adopted as His daughter! You have been accepted – not for who you might be someday, but for who you are and are not! Trust that God loves you and your children. Want your children to feel safe and secure? Love your husband and prioritize him. The number one way for your kids to feel safe and secure is in a home where mom and dad have a vibrant healthy marriage.
Dad and Mom
Humility means not being afraid to ask for help. Don’t be afraid to spend time talking about your weaknesses and struggles in your Small Group or with a pastor or counselor. Be courageous enough to be humble enough to be the best parents you can be. Do you have enough humility and courage to ask your spouse or someone who knows you well if they see any of these traits in you?