Can We Divorce-proof Our Kids? Ten Strategies for Parents

Lisa Cherry —  January 21, 2013

bouncing kid bungee cord 455997_suspended_1By Lisa Cherry

The thought of my own children suffering a divorce and leaving our precious grandchildren to bounce between two parents' worlds is horrifying to me. How about you?

In fact if there was such a thing as divorce immunizations I would be first in line for my kids to get the shot!  Sadly, I know of none, do you?

However, I do know the One who has the wisdom and grace infusion my kids need in order to form a healthy home.....if they will but seek out His Kingdom plan. But what about their years under my leadership?

Shouldn't I be doing my part to prepare them to succeed in their marriages? And isn't that job even more critical than my preparing them to succeed in their education and career?

As we have launched two kids toward healthy marriages, I am able now to reflect on my preparation strategies before the others hit the launching pad. Here are my top strategies for this week:

1.  Teach them from a young age the value and joy of marriage. Modeling is the highest form of discipleship.....which means my own marriage had better be my highest priority! I am training my kids and they will naturally be like me. We reproduce after our own kind. Wow, is that ever humbling. tweet!

2. Honor the successful Christian marriages around you in front of your kids.
Showcase how mature couples weather the storms of life. Do not sugar coat the realities, but cheerlead for the victories!

3. Make it a habit to pray with your child/teen for their future mate. Pray for their salvation, purity, joy, and character development. Pray even for their parents to wisely train and lead them.

4. Consider it your own personal responsibility to fashion your child as a future successful marriage partner. Note in the teen years the areas of strength and weaknesses that need to be corrected in your child before he/she can succeed in marriage. Gently and thoughtfully help your child "grow up" in habits, attitudes and behaviors....not just so they don't bug you anymore but so they can be a loving spouse! Don't be content to not finish the job in those later teen years and let your child know why you care enough to help them. Later they will thank you.

5. Intentionally study marriage training materials with your teen before your child has even met the future spouse. We don't want a doctor studying our disease for the first time while he is doing our surgery. We want him studied up in advance. Take marriage training at least as serious as job training.  Study and prepare in advance.  It will help expose false youthful, naive expectations of what marriage is all about.   Two good titles that you might start with are The DNA of Relationships by Gary Smalley and Love and Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs by Emerson Eggerichs.

6. Expect your children to learn interpersonal skills among their own family members. I say to our children continually....."You will end up treating your future spouse the way you treat your birth family members." Working on birth family harmony is imperative for the generations to come! It is a well proven fact that early habits produce later expectations of behavior. If they smart back at their mom and treat their sister like dirt, guess what they will think is "normal" once the honeymoon wears with their bride?

7. Intentionally teach conflict resolution skills. When appropriate, the kids need to witness Doug and I resolving disagreements in a God-honoring way! If conflicts equal angry blow ups in your home, study and focus on learning new behaviors and skills.

8. Make a family plan for how your family will do the dating and finding a spouse thing. Make the plan years before the plan is needed. Talk about it. Dream about it.....and then work your plan.

9. Go back to number 8. Now honestly, do you have a plan?
Will your kids date? If so, when? How? How will they know whom to date? What will they do on their dates? Will you have veto power over their boyfriends and girlfriends? How will they get healed when their hearts are wounded by the repeated breakups from those dating relationships?

10. Now go back to number 9. Does something about that line of questions seem troubling? Have you noticed, as you have observed other families you know, that dating practices in America has grown increasingly high risk and even dangerous?  In fact, could it be possible that traditional dating behaviors in our culture have contributed to our high divorce rates? Do you believe our God could be challenging us to take a fresh look at these issues? If so, be watching for part 2 of this discussion...

Question:  Is it appropriate for believers to “date around?”  I want to hear from you.I hope you will leave me a comment.

Image courtesy of Neil Gould

This post is part of my series Will Your Kids Find the Right Mate? Here are the rest of the posts in this series:

Will Your Kids Find the Right Mate?
Two of Our Kids Found Romance!
The Word that Makes Us Bristle: Can We Divorce-Proof Our Kids, Part 2
Should Finding a Mate Be Like Buying a Pair of Shoes?
Ten Things I Teach My Sons about Girls
You Can't Make Me!  Teens, Romance, and Rules
The Top Ten Things I Want My Daughters to Know about Boys

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