As a newly divorced mom, any time I went to my brother's home, I found myself feeling resentful. I desperately wanted what he had in a family. Being around them only seemed to amplify my unmarried status. So I stayed away. The knick-knacks, the smell of chocolate chip cookies, the way they bantered back and forth with love and laughter — it was the sum total of everything homey that drove me nuts.
In fact, I stayed away from most married couples until God made me aware of how damaging my pitiful attitude could be. This realization came when another single parent said, "How wonderful that you have a brother nearby. At least your daughter gets to see what a healthy two-parent home looks like!"
Oh my goodness. The realization hit hard. If I planned to hate every happily married person, my girl would pay the price. I whispered in my heart, I’m sorry, God.
I went from avoiding dinner invitations to regularly popping in on my brother's family. I thanked God for families like his, asking Him to bless them and give my daughter, Samantha, a glimpse of marriage and family through their lives. I continued to broaden my world, getting to know women through a church ministry and connecting with their families. When I was invited to weddings, I showed up with Samantha in tow. I celebrated the beauty of marriage, and I tried to stay positive even when my own heart was hurting. As my attitude improved, Samantha became more positive, too.
If you carry any of the same jealousy and resentment I did, bring those feelings to God. And if you feel your kids need healthy examples of two-parent families, consider a few ideas that worked for me:
Extend the invitation. As I grew in my desire to connect Samantha to healthy relationships, I decided to play hostess. My first guests were served a meal of precooked chicken and canned corn. Simple works fine, and sharing a meal sets the foundation for genuine friendship.
Read heroic family adventures. Find stories of families that stick together and fight through hard times. Whether you choose a newspaper article or a novel, highlight solid families.
Ask God for help. As God shows you your children's needs, pray for the strength and wisdom to meet those needs. His grace is always enough..
This article first appeared in the January/February 2013 issue of Thriving Family magazine and was originally titled "A
Bitter Better View of Marriage." Copyright © 2012 by Elsa Kok Colopy. Used by permission. ThrivingFamily.com.
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