Ask Your Preacher

Ask Your Preacher

“A House Divided”

I am a teen who grew up in the church, and both my parents were converted when they were teenagers.  Their marriage is in a pitiful and sad state.  If they weren't christians, I have no doubt in my mind they would have divorced long ago.  The main problem that I see is simply that my mother has become strongly embittered against my father, and she acts on her emotions; too often in an ungodly way.  She yells, slams doors, accuses, lies, and other things.  She scrutinizes everything about him and truly defines Solomon's teachings of "a rottenness in his bones" and her contentions "are a continual dripping."

I feel as a fellow heir that I have a responsibility to intervene and help resolve all the sinful behavior.  The roles in the house may be upside down, but I still want to honor my parents.  How do I balance the two?  Is there something I can say or do to help end the misery for everyone?

Troubled Teen

Dear Troubled Teen,

There is a unique pain that is felt as we watch loved ones struggle through life… but sometimes ‘watch’ is exactly what we have to do.  Having personally spent many sleepless nights because of our own parents’ marital struggles – our heart goes out to you.  We wish we could tell you that there is an easy solution, and if you step in and get involved, it will change everything, but that isn’t true.  Sometimes, getting involved can make things worse.  Pr 26:17 says that getting in the middle of someone else’s disagreement is like grabbing a dog’s ears.  You’ll get bit every time.  Just because you feel you have the solution and see the situation clearer than your parents, doesn’t mean that they would be receptive to hearing it.  The most likely scenario is that you would add fuel to an already burning fire.

Another thing to consider is that your advice isn’t likely to be accepted by either parent because you are their child.  Jesus said that a prophet has respect except amongst his own family and in his own house (Mk 6:4).  Time has not made you equals with your parents, and you aren’t in a position to help them – it just isn’t the way life works.  This doesn’t mean you are wrong or that you are seeing things incorrectly – it just means they won’t listen because you are the child and they are the parents.  Whether or not you are correct is irrelevant.

But all of this doesn’t mean there isn’t anything you can do.  Jesus’ preaching didn’t affect his family, but his lifestyle did.  Multiple times in the Bible it says that Mary saw Jesus’ behavior and “treasured these things in her heart” (Lk 2:19, Lk 2:51).  Jesus’ example made a lasting impact upon His family.  When you see your parents fighting, calmly walk away.  If they ask why – tell them it hurts you.  When you have a chance to show respect to your father and love to your mother, do it.  As parents, we can tell you that mothers and fathers notice these acts of selflessness and maturity in our children more than they ever know.  Many parents have become better people because of the example of their children.  You can’t preach to them, but you can live a sermon every day.  And most of all, remember that regardless of what your parent’s marriage looks like, it isn’t your fault and it isn’t your burden.  You are only responsible for you, and someday if you get married, you can apply the lessons you are learning now to change your family tree so that your children don’t need to feel what you are feeling now.