rights vs responsibility, part 1

Lately I have been challenged to again consider the tension between rights and responsibility, specifically with regards to the path adults walk when choosing to, or being required to engage in, the dismantling of a family. 

Oftentimes, in the process of separation or divorce, the realities of the broken pieces within and between the parents can veil the truth that the children in the middle suffer glaringly more than their parents often realize under the weight.

In no way am I an expert on the subject of parenting, but having survived infidelity, divorce, separation, and also reconciliation, while raising up 4 beautiful humans, I do feel I can speak to some valuable principles which may help others make a healthier transition with and for their children.

Hint – your feelings do not in any way exonerate you from good and kind behavior.

One of the greatest lies we tell ourselves is that biology trumps choice when it comes to relationship. Wanting to have our cake and eating it, too, we forget that when we choose to break covenant promises, we relinquish the benefits that accompany that position in the lives of those we have walked away from. 

And responsibility trumps perceived rights.

Yes, you have the right, as their God-given parental unit, to have access to relationship with your child. And, it is your responsibility to honor the other parental unit in establishing healthy communication, consistent honor of time, and a reasonably established plan for such proposed time spent. This is not a free-for-all.

Yes, you walk in authority as their parent, but that authority

1. does not invalidate what is best/routine for your children,

2. is not an opportunity to undermine the other parent’s opinions or previously established family values,

3. is not license to use your children as pawns as you strive to quantify your decision to leave or value as a human, 

4. should never be a tool implemented to justify pride,

5. and comes with a supreme mandate to step into a greater level of responsibility than you ever were required to assume under the covering of your now-shattered covenant.

Regardless of whose “fault” divorce appears to be, the responsibilities assumed by all parties carry with them the weight of a decision making process that nurtures and reinforces what is best for the children, not our own egos.

Your children are watching.

Finally, brethren, farewell. Become complete. Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. – 2 Corinthians 13:11

Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another;  not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; – Romans 12:9-11

Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. – Romans 12:10

 And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.  – 1 Corinthians 12:26


3 Replies to “rights vs responsibility, part 1”

  1. Heather, A tough and touchy subject to be sure, I hope your readers who are faced with this situation will hear and heed your words! As a man who has been down this path, I still carry much guilt, but feel good that in most situations that followed I always placed my children’s well being and desires ahead of my own. although it all would have been much easier if I had been a Christ follower and had inspiration from people like you!!

    1. Doug – thank you so much for sharing!! I pray you will one day be able to release that guilt – Jesus died for it already. 🙂 You are such an incredible servant of God and an inspiration to many!!

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