Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Want the Best for Your Children? Step 1: Put Your Marriage First!

I want to start by saying I have nothing against single parents. I know children can grow up to be wonderful when they have fantastic single parents and there are a lot out there. I have high respect for those people. I am just focusing on marriage for the point of this blog.

I was recently referred to the book "On Becoming Baby Wise: Giving Your Infant the Gift of Nighttime Sleep" by Gary Ezzo and Robert Bucknam, after I had asked for advice on whether our baby should be sleeping in the same room with us or a separate room. Thankfully, Jordan's wonderful Aunt Kim suggested I read it. I looked up reviews online about the book, and after some research, then reading the book myself, I realized it's something I want to follow.

My hopes were that it would get right to the point, and tell me exactly what to do. I was surprised when the first Chapter on "Right Beginnings" talked all about your marriage. This threw me for a curve, but the more I read, the more sense it made. Here are a few of my favorite parts:

"From the first breath to the last day on earth, nothing will impact a person's life more than the influence a mom and dad bring to the home environment"

"A healthy home environment starts with Mom and Dad's commitment to each other, from which a more perfect love is communicated to their children"

"It takes work and sacrifice, and it requires that both mom and dad be intentional in their love for each other"

"They become that way only through self-sacrifice, patience, and a devotional commitment to the happiness and welfare of each other"

"We believe if you really love your children, you will give them the gift of love, security, and a sense of belonging that can only be derived from an on-going demonstration of your love for each other as a husband and wife"

"Healthy parenting flows from healthy marriages"

"Children need to see an on-going love relationship that includes mom and dad enjoying each other as friends and not just parents. They also need to see their parents talking, laughing, working together and resolving conflicts with a mutual respect for each other. We cannot over emphasize this point: the more parents demonstrate love for each other, the more they saturate their child's senses with confidence of a loving, safe and secure world"

You probably get the point they are trying to make in just that bit I've summed up for you huh?

My favorite professor in college, Dr. Matthew Draper, told our class once that he can sit in church and point out the couples who most likely have marital problems just based on the way their children act. I believe it, and hope that after I have a Masters and years of experience I can be able to do that as well. Your children are a direct reflection of your parenting.

In church just a few weeks ago we had a gentleman who works in the criminal justice field say, "the #1 factor on if your child is going to be a criminal is if they grew up without a father." This does not mean every fatherless child is going to be a criminal, but most criminals did not grow up with fathers.

Something interesting I learned in school from a few different teachers was this:
1) Happily Married Parents have the BEST overall out come for your children (with school, jobs, success, marriage, just overall good person)
2) Separated/Never Married/ Divorced Parents who respect each other and get along are in second place for the best situation for their children
3) Separated/Never Married/ Divorced Parents who do not get along/argue/custody battles are next
4) Unhappily Married Parents are the worst overall for their children. When you continue in a loveless marriage "for the kids" you actually are doing them a disservice. They have the lowest high school graduation rates and are least likely to marry in the future. Can you blame them though? If that's what you thought marriage was would you want to marry?

I was asked by a couple women last summer if I thought they should leave their husbands, after telling me about their current situation. Although an unhappy couple is the worse off for your children, my first answer is No, do not divorce! I want every couple with problems working on their marriage before that even becomes a consideration. If you think your spouse is ready to give up, you need to do everything you can to make it work first. This person is worth fighting for. They are suppose to be the #1 person in your life. Make them feel that way! If they can see that, they may start trying. If you both try to make it work, it will!

Your spouse should be your #1 priority, NOT your children. I know I am not a parent yet, but I have been a child all my life and I can tell you that the stability of marriage holds your life together even when everything else in life seems to be falling apart.

"A good man is hard to find, but easy to keep."

Sadly I think a lot of unhappy couples start when women put their children before their husbands, become nagging, disrespect/belittle their husbands and stop caring to impress him. For a reality check women, read the book "The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands" by Dr. Laura Schlessinger. I highly recommend this book.

Go on weekly dates and talk about things other than the kids. Take a couples vacation and do the little things for each other that make the other happy. I'm very pregnant right now... I've held the football a few times where Jordan asks me so he can practice kicking field goals. I go with him to pass the soccer ball so he can practice getting goals. Is that fun for me? Well... I like to make him happy lets's put it that way. I'll continue to do it when we have baby Jaxon.. I'll put out a blanket and leave Jax in his carseat, on the blanket, on the grass while I help Jordan because I will always do what I can to make him happy. Does he love playing board games with me or rubbing my feet? ... Not so much, but he loves to make me happy. That's marriage, putting your spouse before yourself. This will have the most positive effect on your children than any thing else! Have your children grow up and tell their friends, "I want a marriage like my parents." That will be the most flattering thing my children could ever say about Jordan and I.

You can say I'm new to this marriage thing, don't know what I'm talking about, or to wait a few more years and see how I feel. I will never take marriage or parenting advice from those people though, because I still look at my husband with the same love and admiration as the day we were married and that's never going to change.

"Once you have children, your marriage matters more not less, because now other people are counting on you." (Fatima Dedrickson)

Yours truly,