When Loving Children Isn’t Enough

My husband and I flew home from Dallas a short while ago
after a week filled with appearances, including our multi-day presentation on
marriage and money. Two tired travelers, an evening flight and a crowded plane
suggested that zoning out was the best strategy. I had never heard of the movie
being shown, Way, Way Back, but watching it seemed a good way to ignore
my narrow-seated reality.

Instead, it made me realize a new reality of today’s world.
The movie, described as a “poignant coming of age” film, featured a number of
adolescents. All of them were children of divorce and all of them had parents
who put themselves ahead of their children. The kids were sad and troubled—not
because growing up is challenging—but because of their parents’ self-centered choices.

These were not abusive parents. They seemed the type of
mothers and fathers who might well make the statement, “I’d throw myself under
a bus for my kid.” While, they might choose their child’s life over their own
if confronted by such a dilemma, what they would not sacrifice was their own sex
life. If this movie reflects reality at all, today, the right to sexual
activity is more sacred than the ties between even mothers and children. Each
of the teenagers in the movie felt rejected by one parent and ignored by the
other as the adults who were supposed to love them put their own search for new
relationships ahead of their children. The strangest thing was that these
parents seemed utterly unaware that this narcissism was causing deep damage.
Without stretching too far, you could even say it was a form of child
abuse.  Statistics that reveal the number
of children living with adults who are not either their parent or married to
their parent, or whose parents have ‘friends’ stay overnight, suggests that the
movie reflects reality.

Even granting that seeing a movie on a plane makes it less
attractive than usual, none of the parents in this film seemed appealing. That
is not the case for the character of Sarah Braverman in the popular show Parenthood.
Played by Lauren Graham, she is attractive and funny, and her love for her
children shines through. Yet, after marrying poorly, thus providing them with
an alcoholic, irresponsible father, she repeatedly hurts her children as her
personal life takes priority over them. She is incapable of ignoring the pull
of affection and sex, leading her, for example, to sleep with her daughter’s
high school teacher and to uproot her son and move him to her fiancé’s
apartment (though the sexual tug to her boss will end that relationship).
Somehow, Sarah’s desperate desire to be a good mother ends at the point that
she might actually choose sexual and emotional celibacy for herself to protect
her children.

The show doesn’t gloss over the damage to the children,
including an alcoholic car wreck involving her daughter and her son’s excruciating
emotional pain. Both these results directly stem from their mother’s actions.
Yet, none of the other adults in her life force her to acknowledge the
disconnect between her maternal feelings and her selfish behavior. Is it
possible that the adults and teenagers watching the show also don’t see that
this woman needs to tell herself that her role as mother means she must carefully
weigh up the call of that part of her own life against her children’s best
interests until they become healthy adults?

There certainly would be damage as well if the relationships
shown in the above shows were chaste. The message to the child would still be,
“I come first.” Nevertheless, it is clear in the above situations, the
inability to master sexual urges or the lack of understanding that having
dinner with someone is quite different from sleeping with them, propels
relationships more quickly and less thoughtfully. No one even seems to see that
disrupting the children’s living arrangements makes them less secure and comfortable.
Have we truly reached the point in society where we have bought into the
message that as long as you are protected from pregnancy and STDs, sex can
cause no harm? Have we seriously elevated the right to sexual activity above
our obligations to love, protect and cherish our young? 

The movie on the plane did help pass the time. It also left
me amazed at reviews that cited funny lines or heart-tugging scenes but left
unmentioned the appalling cruelty by parents living in a society that
celebrates social mores that inflict cruel and unusual punishments on our

Is this a trend that you have also noticed?


11 thoughts on “When Loving Children Isn’t Enough”

  1. It seems that this post hit a nerve. From my point,I didn’t mean it to be a post about divorce. That is a separate topic. I was writing about the way that society seems to have accepted the assumption that it is ridiculous to suggest that anyone hold back on their sex life, and that this has nothing to do with children. And that children are suffering because of this.

  2. I agree a lot of those single mothers did not want to be divorced and a lot of single women claim to be “surprised” by a pregnancy but it does not change the fact that a lot of those women are very self serving in their actions. It just seems to be a worldly fact . And then you go on to say you see the same thing. And it is bashing those women to say I will not jump on the bandwagon with our society who holds up these women as heroines ? I believe it is a lie to hold them up like that. I am a Christian , maybe it doesn’t sound like it, but our God hates divorce and is not cheering on fornication either. I help those I can, but lieing to them about how great they are is wrong for our young men and women especially .

  3. Some divorced people would rather not have had their marriage go down the broken path so a blanket comment like the one above bashing all single moms is quite unfair. However, I have been saddened to see people of my faith (Christian) putting themselves before their kids by behaving this way and it is very disturbing. As a Christian, we are called to holiness and I find it so disappointing to see supposedly devout people not holding to a Godly standard on this. So sad for the kids.

  4. Sadly, yes. People react as if my marriage to the same man for 41 years is something strange. Admittedly, it IS rare! And we didn’t live together before we married. Not a day goes by that I’m not grateful to God for my wonderful husband.

  5. Thank you so much for speaking the truth!
    God bless your “platform” to reach deeper and wider!

  6. Our entire society is sick. We have broken families, tons of one parent households, children out of wedlock, and then our culture has the stupidity to wonder why depression is an epidemic and young men are shooting up theaters, malls, and schools. People are absolutely miserable and it is all because we have given God the boot from our lives, schools, justice system and everywhere else. Then when a tragedy strikes we have the audacity to ask “Where was God?” He’s the same place he’s always been, waiting for people to come to him, turn from their sins and repent. It is amazing to me that he still loves us enough to wait.

  7. A friend of mine has two daughters. He and his wife married for keeps, in the Scriptural sense. Therefore, despite all temptations and against all odds he was faithful to his wife throughout and believes in his heart that his wife was also faithful, embracing the responsibility to the Lord, to each other, and to the children. When it came time for the daughters to pair off and wed, both of them chose young men from broken homes. One night at the dinner table the father self-consciously and earnestly asked both of them what kind of reflection it was on him and if it was a comment on his marriage if each of them happened to choose mates deriving from broken homes.
    At this the youngest daughter replied quietly and rationally, “Dad, you don’t know how hard it is today to find mates from UNbroken homes.” The father now had food for thought upon which to ruminate for a long time, but was greatly disquieted at this revelation and what it means for our society. Yes, a somber social lesson resides in there somewhere, and this lesson does underscore your point. Still, let us hope that unbroken homes are far more frequent than the mesmerizing Hollywood spin would lead us to believe.
    Thanks to both of you for your “revelation on installment” episodes of Ancient Hebrew Wisdom.

    1. wow I was shocked to see my comment from several years ago ..which sounded so harsh , this week I have had the same conversation with 3 suicidal kids for this same reason ..and the main child I was upset about in the reply in 2013 , is now serving time as an adult ( she was 15) for attempted murder by burning her house down with Dad and sister inside . we are regular average midwest people . I guess I was upset then , and still am now . This is not making a big deal over nothing.

  8. where did my comment go? We have seen this trend for 15 years . family and the friends my children have . We have always opened our home to these little children whose parents put them through things little children are not equipped to handle. Even good caring mothers ,ESPECIALLY those who have divorced for the “good” of the children, become self centered and blind where it comes to their children .I can hardly think of an instance where this doesn’t happen . The little children who used to come here in pain, now show up mutilated ,raped, suicidal and on drugs ,some that the Drs. give them in their stays in psychiatric hospitals , tough and vulnerable all at once. GOD HATES divorce . One father who was chucked because it was “better for the children ” called in the night to have me check on his 13 year old staying with us to make sure she was live, because she was suicidal , he couldn’t sleep he was so worried…the mom has a boyfriend the child hates…and the boyfriend hates her .In this society we have for some strange reason put single mothers in the position of hero. Eve was no saint , WOMEN are not saints. A woman is a WIFE first and then a mother ,she is as fallen from sin as Adam. It is obvious how quickly a good mother turns away from her children as soon as there is no husband , single mothers are not heroes and I am sick of our society worshipping them( listen to how society talks about them heroes and saints and strong and courageous ) while my home and our community fill with their hurting and mangled children, I know I am not politically correct. I DON’T CARE . The only way is to turn to GOD and repent . But they are hardening their hearts ,against their children ,it is not a new trend it has been increasing for a long time , you should be thankful you do not see this often . I live in a middle class and rural- small town area far from big cities ,and we see it all the time. When it comes to average America it is embedded deeply already. We have lost shame.

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