The worst fear of many parents is that their kids leave the church. It is sometimes the case in a mixed faith marriage that the kids “follow” the transitioning spouse out of the church. Thereby realizing their other parents worst fear.
I have seen (like in my own home) a sort of tug of war to win the hearts and minds of the kids – to convince them that one side is right and the other is wrong. It kind of has the feel of trying to court votes. This sometimes leads to courting and not parenting.
So what to do so you don’t end up in a win – loose situation. A situation where you win if the kids follow you (but your spouse looses) or vice versa.
My mom (mother of 9 kids) would often tell me (when I came to her complaining of a wrong done by one of my sibling to me) “ It takes two to make a fight”. This is good advice here.
It takes two to play tug of war. It takes two to have a win/loose situation. It takes two to debate.
Here are a two tips to help you put down the boxing gloves about the kids:
The kids get to make their own decisions. You or your spouse are not making their decisions. You can suggest, advise. threaten, berate, but they get to decide what to believe. I don’t care what age they are, this is their choice. Yes, I realize younger kids tend to just believe what you tell them, but developmentally that has a time frame that expires. Ultimately at the end of the day Your kids KNOW there are choices when it comes to faith and belief (their parents are showing them that in real time).
This is not about the kids. The kids sometimes become a symbol of what is going on internally with the parents. We as parents want another to validate our own decision (to stay or leave) and when we see the kids choose one or the other we feel validated in our own decision. Let the kids be who they are and the parents need to learn how to have their own backs regarding their own decisions.