Strong Relationships, Part 2
If you missed the first part of this series, go read it here and then come back!
Priority #2: Love for your husband
Titus 2:4-5 reminds us older women to URGE the younger women to love their husbands and children. Husbands come first in that list of urgings.
Again, I encourage you to begin as you wish to continue.
Prioritize your husband now, even in small ways, so that your marriage remains a priority as you have more kids and life continues to become more complex. Work to make date nights a regular part of your life now and seek to be creative and continue the habit as your children grow and activities and the complexities of life increase. As with all worthwhile goals, this will not be easy, but it is still very worthwhile!
Honor your husband. Seek to speak well of him to your children. Try not to slip into even the smallest negative digs, “You know your dad, he always…” Or “Your dad never...” In disappointment or hurt, help them to understand, forgive and pray for their dad to be the father that the Lord has called him to be. Teach them by example to bring hurts to the Lord, rather than living with bitterness.
Present a unified front to your children. You will not always agree on parenting or life, but your children should never think they can work one of you against the other so as to get their way. When you disagree, take some time to talk separately and then come back to the children with a unified plan.
This unity is one of the specifics that my oldest daughter, 24-yr-old Diane, mentioned that helped to build relationships with her. She said that it gave her a sense of security as a child to know she didn’t have the power to control and divide us; it also gave her a greater sense of respect for both parents.
Priority #3: Love for your children
Boy this is another area that we could talk forever about. It is one that each member of my family spoke to as I asked them. Here are a few of the highlights - opportunities for you to know your child, invest in your child, and help them to trust you, so that you can speak into their life and they into yours.
Prioritize your relationship with each child - Seek to know them as individuals, separate from the family whole. Make time to be alone with them.
Take them on individual dates alone - a picnic at the park, lunch dates with Daddy, miniature golf with Mom, or simple times at home where you seek opportunity to work together and talk with one child alone while you are cooking or working on a project. Getting to know your child and helping them to know you in these times while they are young can reap dividends as they get older.
Knowing your child educationally - My second daughter, Rochelle (22) also mentioned that as we got to know her, taking the time to understand how she learned and adapting our homeschooling to best meet her needs (never comparing her to her siblings) helped her to feel loved.
Establish family traditions and celebrate milestones - Harold and I took the chance to spend time alone with each of our kids as they grew older. (Ex. Mommy and daughter over-night dates to discuss femininity and sexuality, ½ birthdays and letters of encouragement and vision from parent to child, birthdays where we go around the table and share something we appreciate about the birthday person, etc.) This will vary per family, but builds memories and becomes another chance to speak into the life of your child.
Support and invest in the interests of your children - This was big for each of our kids as they felt our presence and support in what they cared about. Sports, speech and debate, drama…
Little Daily Habits - Rochelle reminded me that in parenting, as in other areas of life, it was often the little things, the faithful choices and habits over time, that connected her heart with ours. Like taking the time at night to read together and pray with them before we put them to bed. She said that it made her feel special that we made that a priority and the nights we didn’t do it, she felt it.
Affirming words - Affirming them before others and don’t talk negatively about them behind their backs. They should know that they can trust you. This doesn’t mean that you can’t seek wise counsel (there are times you might really need help with something to do with raising your child), but it does mean that you seek counsel with purpose, privately, and with someone you trust.
Priority of discipline - Children feel security and safety in set boundaries and dependable follow-through when they disobey.
Cultivate a culture of humility in your home. When you fail, apologize. It’s never too late! Even in the last few years we have had some sweet healing and growth in our relationships with our kids due to apologies by a parent for past wrongs.
Part 2 of 4, written by an anonymous wise mama. Stay tuned for the rest!