Greetings, Gentle Reader,

What do you think is the most destructive force or event, so far as the health of your family is concerned? There are a lot of candidates. Bad friends, drug and/or alcohol addiction, inattentive parents, an irresponsible parent, abusive parents, an unfaithful parent, predatory friends or relatives, etc.

Actually, it is probably none of the above. The most destructive thing I have seen in my years and in my experience is divorce of the parents. Now, I have to qualify that at least a little bit. The actions of the custodial parent are tremendously important. If that parent is stable, supportive, constructive and in charge, the children may not do too badly, but if they end up with the least responsible of the two parents, they are in for a very rough ride. Even worse, they are probably in for a rough life, as are their own future children and marriage partner.

Unfortunately, if the non-custodial parent is disruptive, irresponsible and demanding of visitation by the children, and if an uninterested and/or irresponsible judge forces the children to visit that parent, then those children are going to suffer extreme and usually permanent damage. It is not uncommon for such children to rebel against both the custodial parent and society in general during their teen years, and this is especially the case if the non-custodial parent is a deliberate instigator.

If the family has been a stable, nourishing family during the early years of their various offsprings’ childhood, the older children may not do too badly, but the younger ones often become self-destructive and/or predatory.

When these children grow up, it will be very hard for some of them, perhaps most of them, to be a responsible partner in a marriage. Perhaps the worst thing they have learned is that divorce is the proper solution to difficulties in marriage. Instead of determinedly sticking it out when the going gets tough, and it will, too many of them will head for the divorce court. Then one more generation of innocent children, their own, will become the victims of that parent’s destructive attitude toward the vicissitudes of life, especially married life.

We parents must realize how real and destructive the effects of divorce are on children, then we must make sure our behavior toward our mate is not such that it will cause the tragedy of divorce. Our words are the most destructive in the early stages of a marriage, so we must learn to speak kindly and respectfully to our mate at all times, and we must learn the words, "I’m sorry."

Then we must concentrate on being unselfish, because selfishness tends to be the root of so much marital unhappiness. Next, we must work on being responsible. That is something that will grow as we go through the years. It just seems to be a part of becoming mature, but the sooner we start it, the sooner we will get there.

If we want the best for our children, and almost all of us do, then we must make sure to be the best marriage partner. That way our children stand a very good chance of growing up secure, contented, steady and responsible in their own right. Most parents can’t ask for more than that.

Until next time,
Muriel Sluyter

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