Modern Family: Parenting past the poor choices of a spouse.


If you missed yesterday’s post from our guest this week on the blog, you can check it out HERE.

Today Kim shares her story – one of heartache, pain and faith.

Can you briefly describe your story

It was 16 years ago September 5th, but some days it seems like just yesterday.  I don’t know if it is the feel in the air, but those painful emotions still seem close some days. Though so much time has passed, I can still hear the words of the detective as he told me, “We have found your husband’s truck.  There is a body inside and visual identification is not possible.”  What had been a happy, fairy-tale life had become a nightmare in the year preceding my husband’s suicide.

At twenty-one, I had married the man of my dreams.  He was my best friend and incredibly gorgeous.  Tall, dark, and handsome, he had been the president of his senior class, played college football and had somehow fallen in love with me…the somewhat clumsy, incredibly insecure math-geek.   Fast forward to a huge wedding, successful careers, a big house in the country, and a new baby boy —  life seemed perfect for a while.

But through a series of tragic events – the very premature birth of our second son, the loss of our finances and our home, and constant stays at the hospital while our baby fought for his life… I grew closer to Jesus than ever before, but Rick turned to cocaine and became horribly addicted.   A few short weeks after he made a profession of faith and during life-threatening surgery for our second son, Rick drove to a warehouse owned by his company, filled his truck with carbon monoxide, and took his life.   From receipts, I know he was using cocaine shortly before he died… but there was no note.   At twenty six, I found myself alone with two little boys – one three and one fighting for his life who had just turned one.

In what specific ways have you seen your husband’s poor choice impact your children?

I would be dishonest if I said there have not been hard days and many challenges.   I have had to face some very tough questions from my kids like “If he loved us why would he leave us?” and “Was it my fault?”  I have heard them say “I hate him, and I am glad he isn’t here.”   I have seen both the boys suffer with the shame associated with Rick’s decision.   They will tell you they have struggled with trust and forgiveness issues.  It is a spiritual battle, and I know the enemy would love nothing more than to take my children down.

On my own, I am no match for what comes at them from their past, from the world and from the enemy.   The enemy’s plans are to rob and kill and destroy (John 10:10) .  However, I know (and have to remember) I am not alone.  He who is in me, He who chose me to be their mom, is stronger than he who is in the world (I John 4:4).    I pray continually for God to help me help my children learn to demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God by taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Cor 10:5).   The amazing thing is God has allowed us to talk and talk and talk it through.  His Word has healed so much.

My goal has been to continually refute the lies of the enemy and replace it with truth.   I want to raise soldiers who have been refined by fire, but don’t smell like smoke; who have been knocked down but know God is their strength to go on; who are better because of our hard days- not bitter.  I believe nothing is impossible with God.  I believe He is good, in control, and more than faithful.   His Word is wisdom, direction, comfort, and peace… and where I run to for myself and for my children.

What do you do when a spouse or ex-spouse is living an ungodly life right in front of your children?   What do you say? 

For ease of discussion I will address this from the woman’s standpoint ( although we certainly know it is both men and women who choose to cling to sin)

You have to live the most godly life you can in front of your children and in front of their father.  You run to God with all you have.  Begin your day with prayer and pray often.  Fill your head with truth from God’s Word.    Ask a few trusted friends to confidentially pray for you.  Be careful not to downgrade your children’s father in front of them or publicly at church.  Pray for your children’s father – the very best thing for him and for your children is for him to follow Christ.   If you’ve told everyone at church what a jerk he is, it will make it very hard for him to return to or go to church.  If your children’s father is acting like your enemy – do what God says – and love your enemy.   Be kind.   Your kids will notice this.   Rather than point out his sin to your children… let God do that.

Spend time with your kids in the Word.  Work it into everyday conversations. Take them to church.   Surround them as much as possible with godly people and healthy marriages.   There will be times where you feel like you are losing.  Your kids may think he is cool, they may rebel against your rules, they may cling to his “anything goes” rules… but hang in there.   Be consistent.  Allow Christ to live in you.  More times than not, your children will eventually see the difference.   You may be the unpopular parent for a while.  Your kids may stray, they may make some bad choices themselves, but so many times I have seen those same kids come back to the truth their Mom not only taught them but lived in front of them.   God-in-you is their best chance.

What specific steps did you take to buffer your children from the impact of your husband’s choice?

First of all, I had to come to terms with God on why my life had turned out like it had.   How could God have allowed my situation to be what it is?   Yes, God is good.  Yes, God is sovereign.  Yes, He allowed this hard thing to come into our lives.   So… I had a choice and you have a choice:  We can grow bitter and pull away from God, or we can choose to believe that He can use this hard thing to draw us closer to Himself and bring glory to His Name.   I do believe this truth, and that made it easier to continually tell my kids the same.   I often tell them “God trusted you with this hard thing, and He is using it to strengthen you and help you to encourage others.”

Of course these conversations came as they were older and better able to process these things.   When they were little – I never lied to my kids, but I only told them what was necessary and answered the questions only as they came.   As the years have passed, they have processed more and more of all that happened.   I have worked diligently to keep the lines of communication open so we can talk through things and bring everything out into the light.   I have constantly reminded them they have a perfect, Heavenly Father who will never leave them or forsake them.

Stay tuned for PART 2 of Kim’s story

Kim has spoken at numerous women’s events across the country and authors an internationally received e-devotional entitled “Single Moment”. She has served as a guest blogger for Lifeway’s Women Reaching Women blog. Kim’s compelling story was recently featured for four days on Nancy Leigh DeMoss’ international radio program “Revive our Hearts”. She is the founder of The Well ( a ministry for Single Moms and their families) featured in the March 2011 Lifeway Magazine “Home Life” which is now being replicated in many churches. She lives and laughs often with her family in Lenoir City, Tennessee.  You can learn more and read her compelling testimony at


One thought on “Modern Family: Parenting past the poor choices of a spouse.

  1. Pingback: Modern Family: Parenting past the poor choices of a spouse. Part 2 « NorthStar Blog

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