note: If you’re a parent I hope I got your attention with the title of this blog. I want you to know from the outset that where I’m going is encouraging, so don’t think my aim is to beat you down the weekend before Valentines day.
I know so many people that feel as if they are constantly making the decision between being a good parent or a good spouse. Being good at either one takes time, patience, creativity, and above all a great deal of love. But being a good parent takes a special quality for those who have a spouse: to be a good parent you have to have a good marriage.
I worded that statement carefully. I’m not saying that you have to be married to be a good parent (so if you’re a single mom or dad I’m not writing to you). What I’m saying is that if you are married and a parent, then for your parenting to be a success your marriage has to be a success. Here’s why. Parenting involves so many things; teaching basic skills, providing and protecting, comforting, encouraging, nurturing (you get the idea). There is, however, one role of parents that tops all of these–teaching your children about God. And when it comes to this task, what you do as a spouse is just as important as what you say as a parent. Consider two examples. First, Ephesians 5 teaches us that the husband / wife relationship is first and foremost about painting a picture of Christ and his church. As a married parent, the way you relate to your spouse is daily teaching your kids something about Jesus and the church. Secondly, I believe that fathers model what kind of husband their daughters should look for and mothers model what kind of wives their sons should look for (I don’t have one specific Bible verse here, but I believe the concept is biblical and I know from years of youth pastoring that, like it or not, it’s the reality).
Let that sink in for a moment. The way you live out your marriage is instructing your kids on so many levels. Here’s my encouraging advice. Is kind of strange and backward to think, but putting your marriage first is one of the best things you can do for your kids! You cannot sacrifice your marriage to be a good parent. If you sacrifice your marriage you are dooming one of the most important parts of your parental responsibilities. So, what should you do? Date your spouse, go out of your way to show your spouse how much you love them, find a babysitter regularly (I’m thinking we can have a church babysitting ‘co-opt’) and spend valuable one on one time. You already know the practical ways to make your marriage strong, so start doing them.
Never think that your marriage and your parenting are pitted against one another. If you’ve been feeling that way, I want to release you from that burden. Work on your marriage, no matter how good it already is. Your parenting will benefit, and both you and your spouse will enjoy reaping the rewards!