A Reader Writes…

How do you continue to be submissive when your husband is passive? We have always disagreed where our children are concerned; I’m a disciplinarian and he lets most everything slide. Now that the kids are 14 and 11, he is fine with letting them have unfettered internet access. My daughter gets on Snapchat, Instagram, and other sites. I put the tablet away or change the password and he gives it back. I’m at a loss. I have tried to gently discuss it and he will admit that it is a problem but then he gives the tablet back. I am at a loss! –Roberta

Michael Answers

Dear lady, I feel the frustration of your situation. It is difficult for me to tell a struggling wife to just submit and take it for the sake of peace, but where the children are being harmed it stretches my convictions to tell you to just let it be. We can suffer the loss of our personal rights and still maintain our peace, but to see our children suffering is a different matter. I truly feel your pain, and for that reason we both need to seek to be objective in our response. Let’s think this through.

Firstly, I agree that it is a very destructive thing for children to have internet access and social media. Even the secularists are blowing that horn. But you will not achieve your goal by direct confrontation and defiance. You must find a way to change the heart of your husband. You can only change people around you by changing yourself. It takes a piece of flint opposing a piece of steel to ignite a fire. If you can’t change the nature of the steel, then stop being flint.
You said your husband gives over because he is weak, but why is he weak? And why does his weakness go in only one direction? Why does he yield to the kids and not to you? It seems he is strong where you are concerned. Why?

You confidently characterize your­self as a “disciplinarian.” I would never characterize either my wife or myself, nor any of my grown children, as disciplinarians. I had a schoolteacher who I would call a disciplinarian. No one liked her. She was cold, removed, narrow faced, and narrow of soul. We relished the thought of defying her and not getting caught. Our resistance seemed just.

Over the years I have observed a pattern in marriages. Where children are concerned, the weaker spouse usually tries to balance the more dominant one as a way of protecting the children from extremes. Then the dominant parent reacts by being more extreme, again as a way to achieve his/her concept of balance. Reaction gives way to reaction until the children are fully aware that they have two parents at opposite extremes. They will always side with the more lenient parent against the “disciplinarian.” That increases the anger, and the reactions become more severe until there is all-out war, then divorce. The parents fight over the children until they are pulled apart, each confident it was the other spouse’s fault. While it is true that one or the other was the catalyst that got the avalanche started, now the original offense is long since forgotten, replaced by a pattern perpetuated by two people who feel they are right.

So, you wrote seeking advice on how to get your desired end—social media- and pornography-free children—and so far all I have done is suggest that you may share the blame for the situation. That is because you are the only member of the conflict I can address. You don’t need me to tell you where he is at fault. As I said, you can only change the situation by changing yourself.

Instead of countermanding your husband, get online and find the best and briefest secular (scientific) article on the evils of social media and internet pornography. At a time when there is no tension, in a non-judgmental way share with him what you read and give him a printed copy, asking him to tell you what he thinks about it. Continue sharing articles about once a week until you have “educated” him on the subject. Articles that tell personal stories of children being destroyed by social media will also be effective. Then when you feel the time is right and the air is not filled with confrontation, go somewhere—just the two of you—and ask him what he thinks about restricting their access. If the two of you can come to a satisfactory agreement, then have him tell the children. Make him responsible by promoting him to chief lawmaker.

If he is not convinced by the research or he gives over after a time, then set up all the computers and phones so you are able to review everything the kids do online and inform them of it. There are people who can do that for you and show you how to maintain it. Don’t do it in secret. Your husband should know you are spying on everyone, and they are spying on you. It is a household held accountable.

If you and your husband do not come to a congenial unified front, you are going to be voted least popular for the rest of your life. The children will not like you, and they will dishonor you, seeking to cause you pain.

As I have said, light is a painful thing; truth is lonely. When light and truth are held in pride, it is destructive. We can never go back to days of blissful ignorance, but if we could, some homes would actually be happier and relationships would not deteriorate. If you could be a cheerful soul, enjoying your children and husband while they dawdle away their innocence on social media, you would have their heart and ear and be able to bear some influence in their lives as they are testing the waters of life and becoming adults.

I say this not to cause you to relinquish the light you have. Rather, I want you to see that maintaining your joy and peace and fellowship is the most important thing you can do. If you lose relationships trying to change others, you have lost all.