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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Best Thing You Can Do For Your Kids. . .

It's not that I haven't heard this before, nor that I haven't tried to employ it in my own marriage and family.  But last night I was reminded in a particularly poignant way how incredibly important, no vital, it is to do one thing for your kids. . .

Work hard at and prioritize your marriage.

I think before, I interpreted this in a different way.  I know that parents are modeling everything from household management to conflict resolution to our kids.  We're demonstrating how to 'do' relationships, even (well, especially) when things aren't roses and rainbows and ice cream.  We're teaching our kids the skills of fighting fair, honoring one another, how to do 'love-in-action,' and how to come to a workable consensus.

If we have chosen our own spouse wisely, and we do it right, our kids will understand that the feelings of love and the actions of love are not always the same thing.  They'll understand how important it is to keep communication open, how to disagree without being hurtful, and how to let go of the little stuff that really doesn't matter at all.

At the end of their time living in the family home, they will hopefully have the skills to choose their own spouse wisely, parent deliberately, form lasting and valuable relationships, and build a marriage and family and life that is well worth having.

And all that is, in my opinion, true.

But last night, at a gathering of people who are parenting challenging children, I saw another side, too.  Many of these parents had put so much energy into their high-needs child that their marriage was put completely on the back-burner.  Eventually, with no nurturing or attention in such a high stress environment, it failed.

And now, not only do the parents have to deal with the pain of a failed or failing marriage, they are having to do it in the context of a difficult situation with their child and family.  They have no support, either emotional or practical, now that the 'team' has been broken up into two households.  And no one is coming out on top. . .least of all the kids.

The fact is, if you have children, you are going to go through periods and stretches of challenges and stress. . .from injuries and illnesses to bursts of rebellion to the hormonal swings of puberty, there will be moments when parenting is hard.  Very hard.

But it will be harder if we are going through those stretches alone.  It will be more draining and stressful and difficult if we have no one to share the load. . .no one whom we know and love and trust to have our backs.  And the increased stress won't just be on our own shoulders. . .our kids will suffer, too.  Deeply.

After last night, I am more resolved than ever to strengthen and nurture and value my marriage.  It's the best thing I can do for me.  But, more than that, it's the best thing I can do for my kids.


  1. What a beautiful picture of you and Ian. I agree, the marriage relationship also needs attention, whether there are children or not. When we go through the difficult patches of life we have each other to lean on. I've learned that our marriage is not defined by the "things" that are happening around us or to us. Keep up the good work you two. You are exceptional role models.


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