Dear Tugged One,
Think of Sister Noah (Noah’s wife). What was most important? Feeding and watering the animals or keeping the ark floating? Your marriage is your ark. And if it’s full of holes and leaking, the kids are in danger. But when it’s in great shape, the kids feel safe. So let’s work on the marriage “ark”. . .
The Lord has commanded us to cleave unto our spouses and none else. A husband or wife who places children, friends, careers, hobbies, or Church callings before the marital relationship violates the commandment “none else.”
My sisters learned this lesson first hand. One day they were all out of control. My dad came home from work and could tell that my mother had had a particularly exasperating day. He marched my three sisters out of the house to the front sidewalk, lined them up, and chewed them out royally. “This is my wife!” he exclaimed. “And nobody makes my wife upset, not even you. Frankly, if it’s a choice between you or Mom, she stays.” The girls were all shocked into silence. That day they learned that my daddy loved my momma more than anyone else on the planet. And they also learned that marriage comes first.
Having children takes almost all of our time and energy and certainly is draining of our emotional energies as well. But parents who are not very careful begin to lose something important. Many women begin to switch their mental and emotional allegiances and their primary love to their children saying, “My kids come first.”
But as important as our children are, our spouses are more important. Our emotional and primary love must be to our spouse. An interesting thing happens if you do this. You still have lots of love for your kids, but your kids are now feeling safe and secure because they know that Mom adores Dad and Dad adores Mom.
Our relationship with our spouse is our most important relationship with anyone on this earth. It needs to be our top priority.
Dear Auntie M,
I tend to be a real softy when it comes to my kids. I’m worried indulging them may be more of a hindrance than a help to them in the future, but I don’t know how to say “no” and stick to it! Any ideas?
One of the most important commitments to be made in parenting is that of being parents of conviction. Now, I’m not sure that you qualify for this so let’s do a little test. Reach out your right arm to the right. Now bend your arm at the elbow and reach your hand around to your back. Press firmly on the middle of your back and run your hand up and down. Do you feel bumps there? That, my friend, means that you qualify! You actually have a backbone! Let’s test to see if you are actually using yours.
Your daughter comes to you with her most pitiful look and declares that she is 15.9999 years old and that the hottest guy in school has asked her to the homecoming dance and come on, she’s almost sixteen so what’s the big deal anyway? Your seven-year-old declares that he has carefully cleaned his room and when you go in to verify, you discover that he has crammed all his toys on his bed and carefully covered the pile with his bedspread but if you make him clean it up, he’ll be late for school. Your four-year-old is in the shopping cart and despite your policy that you don’t buy candy at the checkout, he is absolutely pitching a hissy fit demanding candy, candy, candy and you see three different ladies from church staring at you.
What do you do? Parents of conviction are willing to put up with the whining, the complaining, and the judging of others. They stay centered. They use their backbone. They say no.
Here’s some ideas to help you use it: 5 TIPS FOR BEING PARENTS OF CONVICTION
- Learn to say it and mean it. If you find yourself endlessly repeating the same idle threat, stop! Look the child in the eye (kneel down if necessary) and in a very low, firm voice say what you want. Use one short sentence. And then follow through on the consequence if they choose to ignore you. Kids know when you really mean it.
- Don’t forget to KISS, that is, keep it short and simple. Don’t blather on and on.
- Whatever you do, don’t bend the rules of the Church. Study the For Strength of Youth pamphlet like scripture and stick to it. You are teaching them eternal principles of obedience that will last forever.
- Be clear on consequences and follow through. (Even if you’re tired and even if you’d rather crawl in bed and eat chocolate.)
- Use written contracts if your child is old enough that spell out the required action (or the action to be stopped) and the time it’s required and the consequence that will apply. Have them sign and date it and post in their room where it’s visible and in the Family Command Center (usually the frig!).
Remember, we are constantly teaching our children. Too much nurturing teaches them that they’re not capable, that the lazy person wins, that commitments don’t mean anything, or even that women do all the lousy work. So what do you want to teach your kids? Be brave!