“You teach people how to treat you.” 

Dangit. I so wish that weren’t true. 

Seriously, that’s one of the most sobering thoughts I’ve ever stumbled upon in the world of recovery and psychology and healing and wholeness.  

Every day of my life, I taught the people around me how I wanted to be treated and what I would consider to be acceptable behavior. 

I taught them this by not speaking up when hurt. I taught them this by staying in the room. I taught them this by reacting the same way each time. I taught them this by remaining in relationships fraught with toxicity. I taught them this by coming back for more.  

I taught them. 

I hate this thought process, obviously, because it places the responsibility squarely on my own shoulders for years of heartache.  

I won’t go into the tiny details like I was convinced I couldn’t leave and such, because frankly, that’s not the point. 

Staying or leaving, I could have chosen other ways to deal with things. 

I’m thinking about this now because I’m looking at my children differently. I’ve got three years left with my daughter under my roof, four years left with my son.  

I look at my daughter and want a different life, a different set of relationships, for her. I want her to know not to jump into the cycle of harm and stay there. I want her to know what to look for, what to stay away from, what it’s okay to say no to. I want her to know what she can and cannot expect a relationship to do for her, what she can and cannot expect of herself in a relationship. 

And I look at my son and want different choices, a different set of standards, for him. I want him to know how to treat people, especially women. I want him to know that a needy woman cannot be rescued by another human. (Bless all our needy hearts!, but we can’t.) I want him to know what it looks like to honor and cherish. I want him to know that there is another way, that his past does not have to define his present or his future.  

I want them both to know that God wants so much more for them and from them compared to what they’ve seen. That God makes it quite clear how we should treat others and therefore, how we should expect to be treated. That yes, we are to turn the other cheek, but not to the detriment of our souls and hearts and minds.  

So today I will show my children how I am to be treated and in turn, they hopefully will begin to see the same for themselves.

If this post helped you, I would encourage you to check out “Surviving in a Difficult Christian Marriage”, found here.


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