Several issues have arisen between my son and my husband--who is not my son's father--to the point that our home has become broken. In the interest of personal safety, my husband has moved out. I feel trapped in the middle. I don't want to have to choose between one or the other because they both need me. I've had someone pray over my house. What should I do?
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When my now-husband and I were courting, he asked me an interesting question that caught me off guard. "If something goes wrong, what do you put first: spouse or child?" It took me a moment to find an answer, as I had to think it through. I imagined a car slowly sinking into the water, and my immediate instinct was to rescue the youngest. But that seemed wrong. I finally answered him: "The spouse, because the spouse is in the best position to help me rescue the children." I'd realized that if I rescued the youngest from whatever situation arouse, it would just be me taking care of the youngest, and I might not have the resources to save the others or even save ourselves. But if I rescued my spouse first, he could in turn help me save and manage the children. He confirmed that that was his thoughts as well - and it applies to immaterial conflicts just as much as physical danger. The parents are the protectors and anchors for the children, and without each other they are in a weaker position to help the children. So whatever circumstances arise, the position of the father is that of both a parent and a spouse. He doesn't lose that position by not being the biological father. That a child does not want to acknowledge authority doesn't make it vanish anymore than an anarchist can reject a government he didn't personally elect or appoint. Even biological kids do not 'choose' their parents. But the parenting needs to come from a position of strength and unity. There can't be a point on which the child can successfully play one parent off of another. The the answer, in general, would be spouse first. (This would change in circumstances where the spouse is committing a crime, such as abuse, because then the spouse has broken his commitment to the family and is putting them in danger rather than protecting them. But that doesn't seem like the issue here.) So here are some things you can potentially do: 1. Meet with the husband and go over plans for what you are going to do. When options are presented to the son, it needs to be together. Invite a Pastor or trusted Christian mentor into this meeting as well to go over the details of the situation and come up with a customized plan. 2. Stop coddling the son. Love includes discipline. He's not too old to be grounded or lose privileges. If he is threatening to commit a crime or harm someone, then you may need to ask the advice of local police. 3. Whatever your solution, your husband should not be the one to move out (unless he's the one threatening harm, but it sounds like in this case he moved out for his own safety.) Part of the presentation to the son should be that dad is coming home. 4. If your son wants to leave because of that, there are some options. There are many summer programs for troubled teens. Look into a few, if needed. Maybe the son just needs some space and hard work on a farm to learn discipline and appreciation. Perhaps he could stay with a relative for a while (so long as you trust the relative to put down ground rules and NOT let the son rule the roost,) or with someone at the church close by. 5. It might be a good idea to get some marriage counseling (from a Christian) as well. It might be a good outlet to bounce ideas and get personalized advice on how to be a stronger family. 6. Get the teenager a Christian counselor he can talk to, as he may not be willing to share everything with parents, and may be more willing to listen to the counselor. A behavioral therapist might be a good choice. It's a tough situation. No one wants to be caught between spouse and child. But God called the parents to manage the home, and called parents to train up the children in the way they should go. The greatest love is willing to be the parent, not the friend, in both the good times and the time when their child strays.
I humbly submit that there are many unknown issues present in your post. That said it appears the number one duty to protect yourself or any children from the threat of any violence, regardless of the source has been addressed. Conflicts between children and step parents can have many core sources with the ages of sons a big factor. Professional services must brought into the problems behind any threats of violence. Don't make the mistake of self deception thinking that you can somehow fix the problems present and all will be alright. Contact your pastor or a good local church someone who can provide a more hands on form of good counsel, housing or safety as needed. Are there more younger children? Be wise, don't place yourself or anyone back into dangerous situations by sweet meaningless empty words. Consider that at some point all help may or will withdraw remember sometimes it maybe just better and safer to leave. Maybe that bridge is in the future as are other choices, but some actions are required for the now. Have courage my sister lady, as you have much to ponder, now seek good trusted local counsel, ask around. Stay in prayer and contact with those who have a much deeper knowledge of your family dynamics situation (love and care). 1 Cor 16:13 In the Lord's freedom...warrior on
This problem arises because of the first issue of not understanding what marriage covenant requires. Too often a woman, or the man, marries out of necessity and/or from hurt in the prior marriage, known as a rebound marriage. A rush to get married syndrome exists without thought. Why did you marry this man without allowing time to KNOW him? Why did he marry her without allowing time to KNOW her? And was the marriage based upon God's word and principles? When two people marry they are joining together as one person. There is no mine and his/hers. That is why it is so important to investigate and seek counsel, extensive counsel, prior to joining together. In the biblical home, the husband is the head. The word says the wife's desire will be toward her husband--alone. Not split. The husband is to follow biblical teaching to love the wife and to be a strong leader in the physical as well as the spiritual. They both are to teach the child(ren) from a position of unity as one. I have counseled people who married from broken marriages. This is the one thing that seems to lie dormant and rises to destroy the family after the 'honeymoon passion' is over. The new marriage begins as a divided one from the beginning. If the original marriage broke up in an non-biblical basis, then there is a problem. The new marriage may just be an adulterous activity. So, caution and much true biblical counsel is required and should be attained before remarriage. Repentance and forgiveness along with a strong biblical counseling is needed. Richard A. Marks, PhD IABC Counselor
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