I remember kneeling to pray between the doors to my two boys rooms. Who is parenting the children I thought. Children of addicts struggle with the long-term effects of family trauma.
Lord, I cried out, “I don’t know what to do. I am an angry exhausted parent. I say things I don’t mean, get frustrated easily, and yell way too much. Lord, I love these boys more than life itself. They deserve healthy loving parents. Help Lord! Help me be who they need me to be! Help their father wake from his addiction.”
Praying for My Children
Curled in a little ball of prayer outside their door after I put them to bed, I groaned out to God. “Please God, be the parent we cannot be right now.”
Codependency absorbs every ounce of you attention when you let it. Spending most of my time worrying and trying to control my addict husband’s life, left me little time or energy to be the Mom I so desperately wanted to be.
Trying to create the “look” of the family I dreamed about, took up the rest of my time. My unreasonable demands on my suffering husband created strife and tension.
My Perfect To-Do List for Raising Children
I wanted regular:
Family Prayer & Bible Study
Family Game Time
Long Weekends of Just Family Time
Family Church Attendance
Joint Family Dreams
Shared Family Responsibilities
Wait, those requests are not unreasonable; you might be thinking. Maybe not for two married partners who are committed to healthy self-care behaviors.
But with an addict and a raging codependent, those requests are almost impossible without help.
Parenting Children of Addicts
On the nights we did manage to share a meal, I often criticized my husband enough to start a fight. How is that for parenting the children? During family outings, my expectations for what “should” happen were often so high even Jesus himself might have had a hard time measuring up.
My husband’s addiction left him disconnected from his young family and God. He made up his own rules about morality. I tried every way I knew how to preach God’s true word at him.
“At him” is the key. What does Paul say, sharing the gospel without love leaves you sounding like a clanging gong.
If I speak human or angelic languages
but do not have love,
I am a sounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 1 Corinthians 13:1
Funny how this passage starts the “love verses” spoken so often at weddings. I did not heed the warning in my marriage. I loved my husband so much I was going to fix him. Single-handedly, I would whip this family into shape.
Accomplishing the Happy Family No Matter the Cost
My list above represented a “to-do” list for raising healthy children. Which we, he and I, were going to accomplish no matter the cost.
To say we were two sick people locked in a death grip of a power struggle called a marriage is an understatement.
Parents locked in pitched battles with their own and each other’s issues have little or no reserves left to give to their children. Not dealing with your own issues, hurts, habits and hang-ups leaves a broken legacy for your children.
I loved my boys, my husband loved our boys. How could we stop clanging our own gongs? How could we learn to love our selves, heal our hurts and stop the fighting to provide godly parenting to our children? (For more about healing click here.)
Kneeling in prayer outside their door, I groaned, “Lord, be the parent we can’t be. Heal us!”
Asking the right question helps. What do I need to heal in me to love my children? This meant turning away from “healing or saving” my husband. The more I surrendered that to God; the more He turned me to focus on my own healing and loving.