Let’s face it parenting is hard for all of us but for those who have a co-parent who is more like a non-parent it is especially difficult. The anger and frustration that you already have from the break up is compounded many times over when you see your child feeling the same hurt. It is not an easy place to be in and it is even more difficult to navigate through these troubled waters. Let’s face it, when Momma Bear (or Daddy Bear) sees a danger to their kids, hell has no fury that can compare.
The question is, how should Momma and Daddy Bear react when we are Christians? Should our response be tempered by our faith?
I recently had a friend contact me asking for advice on how to respond to her daughter’s father being non-involved in her life. I decided to share my response on here because it is applicable not only in her situation but honestly in many others.
First of all, I can not imagine the hurt and disappointment both of you feel because of this situation. I have no experience to speak from so I am simply trying to advise how I believe I would try to handle it myself.
First things first, you can’t help your daughter if you are hurting, so you must keep yourself in God’s presence, allowing Him to heal your hurt before you can help her. The common consensus today is to use Jesus’ words in Matthew chapter seven to say people can’t “judge” another’s actions, however, I believe it applies much more to situations like this; “How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’ and look, a plank is in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:3) I believe what Jesus was saying in the chapter is that it is imperative we deal with our issues first (in your case hurt) so we will be able to help our brother. It is very important that you focus on your hurt first. When a situation comes up, pause, pray, prepare and only then will you be able to help her. Pause to allow yourself to cool down and not react emotionally. Pray and ask God to heal you and focus you on how to handle the situation. Prepare your response and don’t just shoot from the hip. I recommend staying off of social media during this time. I know how our flesh wants the affirmation that we deserve to be angry, and our friends are more than willing to give that, but such anti-biblical affirmation will derail your healing.
The next thing is to remember this is not simply a physical issue, it is a battle for your daughter’s soul, as well as your ex’s. How you respond will either show Christ to both of them, or deny Him before them (Matthew 10:32-33). I know talking about showing Christ to your ex stings a bit, our flesh does not like to look past the physical actions of those who hurt us but, as a Christian, we should always remember, our actions are just as deserving of eternal punishment in hell as theirs are…but God…
As to how to help your daughter traverse these waters, I am not a licensed counselor, so I am limited as to my offering of help. However, I can tell you how to respond from a spiritual standpoint. First of all, acknowledge her hurt, let her know it is okay to be angry with him, but even though his actions may not deserve her respect, he is still her father and she must respect his God-given authority. This is a must if she wants to please God. That does not, however, mean she cannot stand up for herself.
Once you have allowed her to acknowledge her hurt, use that hurt to show her the Gospel. Remind God said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:8). He also promises, “He sets the solitary in families” (Psalm 38:6). Remind her we too were like her father before we found Christ; we abandoned God, ignored Him and replaced him with our idols, we never spoke to Him or spent time with Him, we did not concern ourselves with His wants and “needs” but selfishly focused on ourselves. However, even with all that, God loved us and gave His son to die for us! By doing this, you will help take the focus off of her hurt and use it to point her to Christ’s healing. Not to mention, it remind you and her that her father is lost and desperately needs salvation. That will empower you both to show Him Christ.
The other thing I would encourage you with is that God has a way of using the most difficult things in our lives to mold us and shape us into the image of His glory for the world to see. What you are dealing with is allowed by God to bring you to a point of intimacy and sanctification with God; “Count it all joy brethren when you fall into troubles, knowing the testing of your faith produces patience” (James 1:2-3). Embrace this times and ask God to show you how He is working in you and your daughter.
I know it doesn’t seem like it, but you have an awesome opportunity to use this situation, which the devil meant for evil (Genesis 15:20) to bring your daughter into the throne room of God. If she is not saved, this could be what causes her to fall into his arms. If she is saved, this could be what solidifies her walk with Christ and brings an intimacy that Satan will never quench! Keep that perspective at the forefront of your thoughts and “lean not on your own understanding but seek His wisdom and He will “direct your paths”(Proverb 3:5-6)