The One Best Thing Parents Can Do for Their Children – and it doesn’t cost anything!
In preparing for a workshop for an upcoming conference, I have been spending time in the Bible, looking for parenting, children, and marriage encouragement. We all want to know how to be the best parents. We love our children from the moment they are placed into our arms. Our entire lives are changed at that moment, now having to consider the needs of a new life.
So we read books – learning about scheduling, nutrition, and educational stimulation. As they grow, we try to figure out the best ways to discipline and train them. We seek information on when to begin music lessons, sports, math tutoring. We just want them to thrive as well-adjusted, well-educated individuals (and as Christians, we of course want them to know the Lord!).
However, did you know that the one best thing you can do for your children doesn’t directly involve them?
When you and your spouse build your marriage, you are benefiting your children in a way that nothing else can compare. Children need to see you working together, laughing together, even crying together. They need to know that you are for each other. Now, that doesn’t mean that you two have to go around the house singing “It’s a Small World” all day (sorry, now you probably have that melody in your head).
What I mean is, they need to see you go through your days as a team. When one of you is struggling, the other should be there to encourage you on. When there is a disagreement between you both, your children need to hear you work it out. And if they hear you “discussing” things in a loud manner, they need to see you work to reconcile. You may even need to come to them, asking for forgiveness for your behavior as you worked things out.
Let’s face it. Living together as a family can be stressful and hard. Water pipes break. Kids cry (all night sometimes). Bank accounts empty. But if you and your spouse are in this race together, your children will have the comfort and peace, knowing that you are committed to each other, willing to go through any trials that may come. They need to see you bringing your concerns before the Lord, too. They need to know Who you go to when things get difficult!
You see, you don’t have to paint a false picture for your children that life is a fairy tale. That will actually do them harm, because once they get out on their own, they will quickly see that it isn’t, and they will struggle. But if you show them how to live in the midst of life’s challenges, you will exhibit to them what to expect in a marriage relationship. You will provide them the security they need to see: their parents love them and are committed to them and to each other. You are showing them beautiful glimpses of their Heavenly Father as you walk through your days.
So as you plan your family calendar, make sure to purpose some “Mommy and Daddy” time. Let your children know that you need to be together alone sometimes. Make a point to go on dates together – even if it’s just for coffee on the back porch.
Let your children cringe when they see you kiss or hug each other. They may be wincing on the outside, but they are being filled up on the inside!