So in honor of my wedding anniversary, I thought I’d offer some thoughts on marriage and family. Christian newlyweds hear much advice about the family, both Biblical and practical. As time goes on you realize that some pointers sound good conceptually, but they don’t work. Others sound good and do work. Here is one that has stood the test of time for us – don’t let your family become child-centered. Here are three reasons:
1. A child-centered home is harmful for your marriage.
Homes that place a higher priority on the kids than the marriage end up hurting the marriage over time. I recall a Christian counselor recently reporting that he does most of his marriage counseling prior to 3 years of marriage and after 15 years of marriage. While the children are young, spouses who love their kids would never think about leaving and may not even realize that they are unhappy in their marriage. Reality strikes when the kids become less dependent and they realize they don’t even know their spouse very well. Busy parents, then, must spend time alone with their spouses. Often this becomes very difficult if young couples don’t live in close proximity to their extended family, that’s why we’ve developed a ministry at our church entitled, “Dine without the Whine,” which is a date-night co-op (see Bethel’s ministry page). Sometimes I’ve observed that moms seem to have a hard time “lettijng go” of their young children. it seems as though they feel they are so indispensable that they can’t be away from their kids, even babies for a few hours. This may be the case when a baby is first born, but as parents of three, it has been our experience that your baby will do just fine without you for a couple of hours IF you start them young enough. Perhaps the only natural desire/instinct that is stronger than maternal instincts are survival instincts. Your baby/child will do just fine if they are in capable hands – and remember, they are in God’s hands, too!
2. A child-centered home is harmful for your child.
I’ll try to be brief here, but when a child learns he is the center of attention in the home, self-centeredness is a natural result. Combine this with our own natural tendency toward self-centeredness and catastrophe occurs. Our grandparents had a philosophy that the child should adjust to the parents schedule, not the other way around. This is wise advice, unless of course you are looking to raise self-centered, inflexible kids. They will already naturally those tendencies as we all do, they certainly don’t need help!
3. A child-centered home is harmful for God’s purposes.
When the “end game” is the well-being of the kids, it is not best for their well-being. However, when the “end game” is the furtherance of God’s kingdom through service to Christ, it results in the child’s well-being. The only win-win scenario for the Christian family is to view it a “ministry team” where we are serving the Lord together. This is why the family needs the local church as much as the local church needs the family!
So I’m looking forward to a nice date with my wife tonight–without the kids!
Want to know more about God’s plan for the family? You can follow this link to hear a message from God’s Word by clicking on the following link.