How Partnering Can Improve Parenting

We don’t often think of how parenting can improve partnering. Usually, we think of just the opposite…how parenting makes partnering harder. We instantly think of all the demands parenting makes on our time, money, energy, and resources, and how those demands complicate marriage.

It’s true that being a parent can make being a partner more difficult. This is why I always tell spouses, “You’re partnering should  take precedent over your parenting.” I firmly believe this to be true for every marriage…

  • Young spouses as well as senior adults spouses.
  • Spouses who have biological children as well as those who have step children or adopted children.
  • Those who have just one child as well as those who have twelve.

No matter the situation, the principle is the same. You’re partnering should take precedence over your parenting, because:

  • Your marriage provides a model for your children to follow in their marriage.It’s the only up-close, on-going example your children will have for how a marriage should look. They may notice the marriages of grandparents or friends’ parents, but your marriage is the one that will make the most impact on them.  Your children will watch to see whether you give priority to your spouse, serve your spouse, and support your spouse. They will watch to see if you express love to your spouse, and how you do that. And your children will end up (consciously or unconsciously) implementing your example in their own marriage.
  • Your marriage sets an example for your children (good or bad) on how others should be treated. Children not only watch their parents’ marriage to see how marriage is done, they watch it to see how they should treat others. Do you treat one another with honor and respect? Are you kind toward one another? Do you support one another? Are you considering the wants and needs of your spouse as well as your own? (Phil. 2:4) Your children watch these things and they will wind up making them a part of their DNA when it comes to how they treat others.
  • Your marriage sets a pattern for gender roles and interactions. You and your spouse provide an example for your children when it comes to understanding and appreciating gender roles. This goes well beyond just explaining anatomical or stereotypical differences. It refers to an appreciation and celebration of gender and gender differences. What does it mean to be a man or a woman? Your children will answer this based upon their observation of you and your spouse. Do you and your spouse honor each other for who you are? How about celebrating your differences rather than demeaning them? Do the two of you demonstrate a healthy respect and affection for one another? Through your marriage, your children can understand how key gender is to their identity.
  • Your marriage (hopefully) will out-live the demands of parenting. When my children were young, I would come home from work and hug my wife. They would try to get between us, and I would often make them wait their turn until their mother and I were finished talking. This didn’t go over well. When my children were teenagers, I would come home from work and hug my wife, and they would still try to get between us…usually with requests for money, time at a friend’s house, or some kind of transportation. Again, I would make them wait their turn. And again, it still didn’t go over very well. Finally, in frustration, they asked me why I did this. I explained to them, “Your mother was here before you got here, and she will be here after you’re gone. You’re short-timers here, so you can wait your turn.” This was my way of letting them know my partnering takes precedent over my parenting.

These are just four reasons your partnering plays an important part of your parenting.

But some of you are thinking, “I thought you were going to tell me just the opposite. I thought you were going to tell me how my parenting could improve my partnering! When are we going to get to that part?”

That will come in in the next post, so stay tuned for the big reveal.

When you look at your marriage, what kind of model and message is it giving your kids? Would you want their marriage to look like yours, or would you want it to look different? If you would want their marriage to look different, how can you begin to change the examples you’re setting for them?

Copyright © 2018 Bret Legg

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