“I love you too honey” read the message. I just woke up from an afternoon nap and was quite perplexed at the new message on my phone. The message was sent by my husband so it was not the sender that surprised me, but my confusion stemmed from the fact that he used the word “too”. I had no memory of sending him any messages that day…or so I thought. I checked the sent messages on my phone immediately, and indeed I had sent him a message thirty minutes earlier. “I love you so much honey and always want us to be close.” I was even more confused. Did I send a message when I was half asleep?
A few seconds later it hit me…”Daniel!” I called to my then 11 year old son. “Did you send a message from my phone?” Daniel came into the room with a sheepish grin and explained indeed he had sent that message from my phone to his Dad on my behalf. When asked why, he then explained that we both seemed rather frosty that morning, and though we did not argue or anything, he wanted to make sure we stayed happy and did not fight.
I felt a tinge of regret…you see, he had overheard us quarrel in the past and this was his own way of making sure things stayed nice and peaceful. I felt bad that he ever heard us quarrel at all, and I resolved more than ever no matter what differences I had with his Dad, they would not result in raised voices or us to argue bitterly.
In most marriages, disagreements will come, but how you handle them makes all the difference. It is our duty as parents to ensure our children are protected from any situation which will cause them pain or discomfort. While some pain, such as the emotional hurt of disappointment over a broken toy or the physical hurt of a fall is inevitable, no child really needs to deal with the pain of seeing (or even hearing) his or her parents hurl unkind words at each other or pummel each other with their fists. The collateral damage children face as a result of parental conflicts can last a very long time and can have far-reaching effects.
I remember only ever seeing my parents exchange words once as a child. Boy did I feel awful! It was not a nice feeling at all. Though it happened over 30 years ago, I remember the incident like it was yesterday. I also remember a child in my neighbourhood who was really aggressive. I found out that his father and mother were always fighting physically. Perhaps he was just mirroring what he had grown accustomed to seeing.
It’s not always easy, but, like I mentioned earlier, we have a duty to protect our children as much as we can to ensure they have a childhood full of joyful memories. No matter how young they are, let us not forget that our precious gifts from God-our children-are like sponges. When they grow up with the baggage from negative memories, they may end up having a negative impact in their marriages and other relationships. Studies have shown children who grow up in conflict-ridden homes easily end up depressed and angry. This, in turn, affects their school work and more. When elephants (parents) fight the grass (children) also suffer. When children grow up in a healthy loving family unit, they are more confident, secure, happier and are able to practice what they have seen over the years-love!