Posts Tagged ‘children and stepchildren’

2 Samuel 13:23-39
Absalom’s Revenge on Amnon

In my second marriage, I inherited three boys. They were ages 9, 6, and 3, respectively, when I became their stepdad. I had the delusion that being a stepdad would be no different than being a dad. With their dad not really being a part of their lives, I figured that I would be their dad as if I was their biological dad. I figured that it would be a story book, Brady Bunch kind of thing. I figured that I would raise the boys like I had been raising my girls. I just knew that it would be a Hollywood ending to the nightmare that I had been living with my first wife. I had suffered through an affair, drug addiction, scrapes with the law, financial disaster with my first wife. My second marriage was an escape into normalcy I thought. And it seemed that way when we were dating and not sharing a home. During our time before we shared a home, I did not get to see the details. I saw bits and pieces, not the whole picture.

When we set up our home together, things began to change quickly and the one issue that was core and cause to all our other issues in our marriage was the my kids vs. your kids issue. If you are contemplating a post-first marriage where there are kids still at home and those kids are from your respective previous marriages, this one issue must be dealt with before you set up house together. It is a marriage killer. I can attest to it. You must deal with how and who will discipline the children. If you cannot mesh your parenting philosophies you should not get married, plain and simple. My second wife and I did not deal with this issue or even really discuss it before we set up house together and this one issue lead to the breakdown of our marriage and led to all the other issues that ultimately blew up the marriage. The Bible tells us that we are to discipline our children and to raise them up in the ways of God. Neither of those things happened in my second marriage. I am not alone in this issue. Most second marriages are rocked by this very issue. If you have delusions of the Brady Bunch, if you are dating someone and you both have kids from previous marriages, wake up.

One of the core issues was that I was expected to be the disciplinarian of her children but I had no power. The boys had been raised pretty much by my second wife alone. My second wife seemed to want to be more the boys friend than she wanted to be a parent. Because of the way they had to grow up in an battleground of a home between their birth dad and their mom, they became spoiled. They did whatever they wanted and there were often little, if any, consequence to bad behavior. They were spoiled overly so by the kids’ maternal grandparents. They were never really disciplined as a result. My second wife would yell at them for bad behavior daily but there was never any consequence. As a result, they became destructive to property and mean to each other and others. There were no rules for them growing up. So by the time I came into the picture the cast was set.

When I tried to enforce consequences for actions, they would go behind my back to their mom and negotiate their way out of trouble. My second wife did not want to be inconvenienced by how much disciplining children often puts us out as parents. When we take away their freedoms or force them to do things as repayment for bad behavior, it often is so inconvenient to us as parents. Thus, she would succumb to their negotiations. A few tears and a lot of whining would get their punishments whittled down over a matter of hours to nothing. Any discipline that I meted out then was subject to negotiation with their mom. It got to the point that as they grew into teens and pre-teens that my discipline meant nothing to them. It was a horrible, horrible situation. My house became so unruly that I just gave up. The boys were always in trouble at school. The boys became thugs who thought they could do what they wanted when they wanted it and that if they got in trouble they could negotiate their way out of it. It makes me sick right now reliving that marriage in my mind. It was a horrible experience.

In raising my own children, they were girls so they were easier to discipline. However, it was because from the time they were babies, there was discipline enforced. Bad behavior had consequences. So, by the time my second marriage rolled around, they were 10 and 5 and well-behaved for the most part. If my first wife and I did one thing right, it was the discipline of our children. They knew boundaries and they knew discipline. So, most times, I could look at my girls in a stern way and they would stop what they were doing. Usually, too, when they were told not to do something or punished for having done something, they learned not to do that again and they wouldn’t. However, the boys, with their lack of consequences over their early years, would repeatedly do the same things that were punishable over and over and over again because there was no consequence to bad behavior.

The difference in how I raised my girls and how my second wife raised her boys was the undoing of our marriage. We split up in 2004 over my kids vs. your kids primarily among a host of other issues that were caused by it. That’s what I thought of this morning as I read about, again, how David did nothing to discipline his children, again. The rape of Tamar was not dealt with. Now the murder of Amnon was not dealt with. David is setting his self up for failure by his lack of discipline for his children. It would be the undoing of his kingdom and lead to civil war eventually. Let us read this latest episode of David ineptitude in dealing with his kids:

23 Two years later, when Absalom’s sheep were being sheared at Baal-hazor near Ephraim, Absalom invited all the king’s sons to come to a feast. 24 He went to the king and said, “My sheep-shearers are now at work. Would the king and his servants please come to celebrate the occasion with me?”

25 The king replied, “No, my son. If we all came, we would be too much of a burden on you.” Absalom pressed him, but the king would not come, though he gave Absalom his blessing.

26 “Well, then,” Absalom said, “if you can’t come, how about sending my brother Amnon with us?”

“Why Amnon?” the king asked. 27 But Absalom kept on pressing the king until he finally agreed to let all his sons attend, including Amnon. So Absalom prepared a feast fit for a king.[a]

28 Absalom told his men, “Wait until Amnon gets drunk; then at my signal, kill him! Don’t be afraid. I’m the one who has given the command. Take courage and do it!” 29 So at Absalom’s signal they murdered Amnon. Then the other sons of the king jumped on their mules and fled.

30 As they were on the way back to Jerusalem, this report reached David: “Absalom has killed all the king’s sons; not one is left alive!” 31 The king got up, tore his robe, and threw himself on the ground. His advisers also tore their clothes in horror and sorrow.

32 But just then Jonadab, the son of David’s brother Shimea, arrived and said, “No, don’t believe that all the king’s sons have been killed! It was only Amnon! Absalom has been plotting this ever since Amnon raped his sister Tamar. 33 No, my lord the king, your sons aren’t all dead! It was only Amnon.” 34 Meanwhile Absalom escaped.

Then the watchman on the Jerusalem wall saw a great crowd coming down the hill on the road from the west. He ran to tell the king, “I see a crowd of people coming from the Horonaim road along the side of the hill.”[b]

35 “Look!” Jonadab told the king. “There they are now! The king’s sons are coming, just as I said.”

36 They soon arrived, weeping and sobbing, and the king and all his servants wept bitterly with them. 37 And David mourned many days for his son Amnon.

Absalom fled to his grandfather, Talmai son of Ammihud, the king of Geshur. 38 He stayed there in Geshur for three years. 39 And King David,[c] now reconciled to Amnon’s death, longed to be reunited with his son Absalom.[d]

Here in this passage, we see that David’s weakness was his personal life – his own lustful desires and his inability to deal properly or discipline his own children. Without his father or anyone else to keep him in check, Absalom probably did pretty much what he wanted when he wanted. Undoubtedly, his good looks added to his self-centeredness (see 2 Samuel 14:25). David only made half-hearted efforts to correct his children. His did not punish Amnon for his sin against Tamar, nor did he deal decisively and swiftly with Absalom’s murder. Such indecisiveness became David’s undoing. When we do not deal with the wrongdoing of our children, they can grow up thinking that they can do whatever they want whenever they want. When we deal directly with their misbehavior and sins, we will likely deal with greater pain later than if we had dealt with it immediately. Children need boundaries and discipline. We must use their wrong actions as opportunities to teach them about consequences and the difference between right and wrong.

To all those who are about to marry for a second time where there are kids on both sides, let my second marriage be a warning to you to deal with the my kids vs. your kids issues before you get married. If you cannot agree, walk away now! It will be the undoing of your marriage if you do not.

To all those who are about to marry for the first time or any subsequent time, you are not to be your child’s friend. You are to be their parent. If you try to be their friend, you will destroy any chance they have to be a productive citizen in this world. The world does not care if you have reasons for your bad behavior, you simply pay the price for it. They can’t negotiate their way out of things in this world and to raise them as if they can does them a disservice. You must discipline your children and enforce that discipline even if means they say they hate you at the moment. You are not here to win a popularity contest with them. You are here to be their parent.

Amen and Amen.

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