I listened as a mom explained how she was sacrificing her own well-being for the sake of her children. Her marriage gave her little happiness – her husband seemed to care only for himself, never taking the needs of his wife or children into account. She carried the weight of caring for the family all on her shoulders. She seemed overwhelmed, tired and quite frankly, pretty miserable. But she loves her children, and firmly believes that she is giving them a stable childhood by ensuring that they have a mom and a dad living together under the same roof.
I can’t help but admire how strong she is, and how she is able to think of her children first. But I wonder – is this really what’s best for those kids? Is it possible that she’s choosing misery, and that in the end, it’s not what’s best for her kids?
Control theory teaches us that we each carry pictures in our heads of the ways we can meet our needs. If we don’t have a picture of a certain behavior, we can’t put that into practice in the real world. What pictures are these children learning about how to have a relationship?
Are they learning that a relationship is all about equality and sharing?
Are they learning that relationships bring happiness?
Are they learning that being in a relationship means thinking of another person, and not just yourself?
I’m certainly not advocating that marriages should be given up on lightly. I wouldn’t want my kids to learn that you run away from relationships at the first sign of difficulty. But I wonder how this mom would feel if her children ended up in relationships that were similar to the one she is in?
Is this really the picture she wants her children to have? Is this really what’s best for the kids?