Wednesday, April 18, 2012

will you tell your kids?

we often get the question, will you tell your kids about the affair?

i have thought about this for a while. we've had time to think about this because when we walked through that dark period in our marriage, lila was was 3 months old and layne was 2. lila had no idea what was going on and layne had grasped that something was different in our family because daddy was gone.i put him to bed one night and he opened his hands out and said, my daddy left. i don't have a daddy anymore.

even at 2, he knew that our family had changed. just a simple statement...heartbreaking to me...but for him, just a fact. i shut his bedroom door and cried quietly. that window into layne's mind, through a simple observation, seemed unbearable to me. eye opening. he knows, why did i think i could hide it.

so as i think through if i should tell my children about our marriage, i think through hiding my sin and i think through repentance.

repentance is a big word.

it is a word i didn't understand very well when growing up. and even until these last couple of years, i am still learning about repentance and the process of forgiveness.

i want to model a life of repentance to my children. what i don't want to model to my children is a life of perfection. a life of false perfection, actually. how does that help children to be repentant when they never see you owning your imperfections. when they never hear you say, i'm so sorry...mommy was angry and she should not have punished you like that. 

when we do something wrong, and move along like it never happened? perhaps we even feel bad and go to God and ask for forgiveness. but it stops there. we don't go to the person we hurt, even your 5 year old, and ask for forgiveness from them. no, that's too difficult. no, they wouldn't understand. no, they would think i'm terrible. no, it's not that big of a deal.

it is that big of deal.

repentance in the small things not only points your children to repentance in big things, it points them to repentance was a way of life. that we are all flawed and that we all need a savior. all the time.

i remember in college when i finally understood that my parents made mistakes. that they weren't always right. it was a funny feeling... of course they aren't perfect and of course they didn't have all the answers. they are human. but there was no talk of them being humans that make mistakes when we grew up. they made the rules and we followed them. that was that. and in the process, i formed some thoughts and theories about adults that were way off. adults have it figured out!

which brings us back to telling my children about our flawed marriage.

we will tell them. when the time is right. we do not intend to hide our sin from our children. on the contrary, we intend to highlight our sin and make it very clear that we are all messed up...sinning in every moment. mommies and daddies need God to save them,  just like children do and probably more so. we all are on the same playing field as far as our need for the cross. we ALL fall short.

telling your 5 year old that you fall short by looking into his eyes and asking for forgiveness is incredibly humbling. it is hard. i am prideful and i feel entitled not to have to repent to a young child. but by not doing this i remove the opportunity for my child to see the need for regular and constant repenting to each other and God.

it removes the opportunity for them to view me as perfect.
it removes the opportunity for them to think i am better than them.
it removes the opportunity for them to hold me to an unrealistic standard. in essence, i am saying, i will fail you. you need someone better than me to save you.

and it highlights our need for a savior as intricate part of our day. not just lip service or sundays or story time.


and not only that, i don't want them to forget that God saved our family from destruction. that there was a miracle that happened 3 years ago and no one should forget. not me and not them. not their children.

i was reading Deuteronomy (an old testament book of the bible) today. and this verse yelled at me.

“Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children's children—how on the day that you stood before the LORD your God at Horeb, the LORD said to me, ‘Gather the people to me, that I may let them hear my words, so that they may learn to fear me all the days that they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children so.’
(Deuteronomy 4:9-10 ESV)

it is important to continually point our children to God. to tell them of his miracles in our lives! it is something to get excited about it. we talk about proclaiming the Gospel to your neighbors and friends and we forget about those little humans in our own house.

proclaiming the Gospel through repentance is so good.

so we will not keep the affair secret. we will shout it to the world and to our children.
(shown here is penelope unsuccessfully being abducted by aliens. she was rejected because of her male-patterned baldness)

not to mention, our story is widely known. on the inter web. (oh, LOL) they could google it. and i'm not afraid if they do because they will not be surprised. it will be normal life.

p.s. don't get mad at me for only taking pictures with my iPhone. and also don't get mad at me if you've seen some of these on instagram. i am addicted to this magic app.


  1. Spot on, Jamie. You're doing an amazing job discipling your kids!

  2. Thank you for sharing this today. Perfect words used to describe repentance and your continual response to maintaing it. Such a beautiful testimony your family has. Also, your pictures of your children are precious.

  3. I'm in the middle of a restaurant, eating lunch, about to cry my eyes out. This is so true. A little warning for next time?

  4. Once again a heartfelt post and once again undeniable humor = the unsuccessful alien abduction!! Thanks for always being so, so honest. You're right about the repenting thing~ I can relate when I have to apologize to my middle school students when I lose it for a good minute or two. Kids are so forgiving, aren't they?

  5. I think you are 100% right, it's not the easy thing to do, but it makes sense the way you have worded it here! I always apologize to my children and feel better when I do...they are so loving & forgiving. way more perfect than I ever could be....thanks jami, I love your words!

  6. I think it's great that you are willing to tell your children! My fiance's parents were divorced before they had their kids and they never told the kids until their oldest son (my fiance) was in the process of getting a divorce. I wish they could have been honest with them.

  7. You never fail to amaze me. And make me think of things in a way that I might not have.. but should. My parents split up before I was born. My father had an affair and left my mom, while she was pregnant with me. We always knew.. I couldn't tell you when they first clued us in, but we always knew. There was really no way to hide it, since they did divorce and my dad married my stepmom (who he was having the affair with) and had my sister. It was just our reality. And kids are flipping smart. They figure stuff out, even if you try to hide it. And yes, YES, we should teach our children about repentance. Harder said than done. But necessary. Amen.

  8. Would you PLEASE stop bringing me to tears with your blogposts?! j/k. but seriously - beautiful.

  9. I remember when my parents shared a deep dark secret that had been hidden from us (my dad had been divorced prior to marrying my mom) when I was in early elementary school. It was this giant forbidden piece of life and we weren't allowed to talk about it with anyone outside the family. So thankful you aren't putting that burden on such small shoulders in your home.

  10. i completely agree with you, jami. we, also, will tell our kids about that time in our lives. hiding simply isn't an option!

  11. I am not sure if I have EVER commented on your blog, but this post was just a light bulb for me. I am going thru a nasty divorce, where I threw the first stone, and am not seeking repentence from my husband. He is not willing to forgive though...OH I am off to read more of your blog. I need your story today. HUGS my friend!

  12. i just want to holler "GO JAMI"!!! you wrote perfectly how i feel in my heart..especially about in a sense letting our kids know that we will fail them and they need JESUS to be their ALL.
    i'm so proud of you and admire your obedience.

  13. Got goosebumps reading that passage from Deuteronomy - silly, but God is just so Big and the grace that calls us to Himself and saves us from ourselves is so Amazing.
    Always rejoicing with you, cailan

  14. I don't know that I've ever commented. (Yes. Sorry. I subscribe. I read. I am encouraged. But I don't comment. For shame.) But here I am today to say that although I'm ancient (46) compared to you, I love your heart and consider you a "faraway friend." Facebook is my "blog" and today I posted this:
    Things that are true: 1.We have walked through a dark place. 2.The end was uncertain. 3.God's faithfulness and love for each person in our family was not uncertain. 4.We choose—by His grace—not to hide our sin or our brokenness. 5.We want our children to learn from our repentance and learn of His grace. 6.We commit to being vigilant. 7.HE IS GOOD. HE IS FAITHFUL. HE IS.

    Thank you for keepin' it real. I hope you and I get to hug in heaven.

  15. I really really really love your honesty.

    And the "male-patterned baldness" caption still has me cracking up!

  16. I love your willingness to share your story. Also, you crack me up! Male-patterned baldness. hahahahahaha!

  17. I've never been where you have, but I'm continually humbled by your honesty and I'm very thankful for your testimony and willingness to be transparent. Thank you for speaking truth and being willing to say things that we just need to admit to ourselves sometimes.

    - one sister to another

  18. i'm so glad you wrote about this.
    then again, i'm so glad you write about everything you write about.
    i think repenting to our children is SO important and you put it perfectly.
    like always.

  19. hi jami. i found you through emily anderson and have SO enjoyed reading your story. i saw you found me on instagram!?! crazy. did you see that i linked to your post today?
    ok. keep writing. keep being vulnerable. it is encouraging.

  20. i couldn't agree more.

    love how you added the random funny at the end. too perfect.

    thanks for being so open.honest.and lovely. you are a person i've never met, but look up to in every sense of the word. (well. not every sense maybe. i'm 5'6" bout you?;) reading your insights each day!


  21. love. every. single. word. loved every single word three times because i read it three times because i loved it so much.

  22. Jamie, once again, thank you for having a listening heart and writting these post . Man, i can't even begin to tell you how God used this to touch my heart this morning. I was up crying untill wee wee wee hours of the night for this very thing. Guilt about how my husband left and then we divorced what an effect it had on our then 5 year old, now 18 year old daughter. We were sitting in bed talking about it, i have forgiven my husband, God healed our marriage, our kids witnessed that healing. But i never asked her forgiveness for all that happened. Wow! I feel as though the scales have been removed from my eyes. That i can see what needs to be done for her. For us. HUGE HUGE HUGE revelation.
    And male pattern baldness..... Haha. Your a riot.

  23. oh, boy!
    i have had to apologize MORE than once for being a less than perfect example to my children. like A LOT!
    great words, friend.

    i'm with you on instagram! LOVE it!
    i stalked you out and found you. :)
    so fun!

    male patterned baldness....HAHAHAHA! that'll keep me going for a while. :)
    have a super day, jami!

  24. I wish I could meet you IRL--you're so funny, true, honest and REAL. And challenging!

  25. Everyone is human and it is important for all ages to remember that :)

  26. I think this is so important. I was a kid who's world revolved around my dad for years. When I started realizing he wasn't perfect I felt like my world was falling apart. There's a lot more to my story as you know but I have definitely learned from my childhood that it's much better to show your children that you are flawed and you know it and the only thing good about you is really Jesus inside of you. Everything else flows from that.
    Anyway, I love you. for reals. I need to email you. I keep thinking about it so that halfway counts right (since it's the thought that counts) ;)

  27. I'm really glad to hear your thoughts on this, as I wonder the same much of our marriage problems we'll share with our little ones. Not a fun thought, but super important.

    I remember watching my parents fight when we were kids, and then they'd magically be reconciled the next day. Wow! Things just fix themselves! Obviously, they must have talked about things after we went to bed, but us siblings never got to see that part. I mean EVER!

    And that translated into being completely incapable of conflict resolution long into marriage!
    So the bottom line, I guess, is that our kids are GOING to see our shite. We can't escape it. But how much are we willing to show them about working through it, the big and the small fights? I'm glad you're on the same page as me.

  28. AMEN, jami.
    also, if it is even possible to love you more, i do because you read jared wilson's repentance post. it rocked my socks, too.


  29. I love IG pics and it is magic. Magic. Magic.

    And repentance. It's a beautiful thing.

  30. Jami, I don't even know you but I found your blog and have been reading it for over a year. You are creative, hilarious and real. Thank you for that. Thank you for proclaiming the Gospel unashamedly. As a new mom, I have been thinking and praying a lot about how to share who Jesus is to my daughter. I think our lives are a fantastic testimony of Jesus' love, grace, mercy and forgiveness. In fact, the more I think about it the more I realize how we are their greatest testimony of Jesus. They see us every day. :) So keep on living your life as an example to your kids. Thanks for being so real to a bunch of strangers (creepers??) ;) and letting God use you as encouragement! Enjoy your beautiful kids!!!!

  31. I like this blog. Just found you. Nothing like an honest, straightforward, real woman of God.

  32. I just came across your blog. I love the way your write so honestly about God. I completely agree with you about how important it is to model repentance and forgiveness to our children. Being able to ask a child his/her forgiveness is an incredible experience, for both the adult and the child, and both can learn so much from it.

  33. Hi,
    Just wanted to congratulate you on your Versatile Blogger Award :)

  34. My sister Elizabeth already mentioned this above but my parents had "hidden secrets" as well that they never told me. They told my older sisters but didn't share it with me until I was at least in high school/college aged. It was not fun to hear it that way (more reasons why they waited but it still was hurtful). I think you got the right idea of when/how to tell your children. Thank you for being honest and opening up in this area of your life.


leave a message after the beep.