Thursday, September 20, 2012

Child Wise | Keep First Things First

We are reading through the book On Becoming Child Wise by Gary Ezzo, M.A. and Robert Bucknam, M.D. Any direct quotes are printed in bold type.

For this chapter, the authors are assuming that a married set of parents are raising their children. All quotes and observations made are done so with that assumption in mind.

I realize that that there are many out there that are parenting alone. I pray that God gives you peace in the situation you find yourself in and brings comfort to you and your family today.

Chapter Two | Keep First Things First

Your marriage is the single most important factor in your child's life.

Wow! I love that the authors start out this parenting book, not on how to parent your children, but on keeping your marriage alive and healthy. If the parents are not in harmony with each other, the emotions and tension trickle down to the children and result in unwanted behaviors.

Where there is harmony in the marriage, there is stability within the family.

It just seems to go without saying, but some people cannot figure out what is wrong with their children but never seem to look at themselves and their marriage as being a factor in their child's behavior. Our marriages greatly affect our children.

As professionals, we cannot overstate how necessary a healthy husband/wife relationship is to the emotional well-being of a child. The most basic need of every child is the need to know his world is stable. Every child needs a daily dose of confidence that dad and mom love each other.

How? Mom and Dad need to tell each other in front of their children that they love each other. They need to build each other up before their children, not tear them down. They need to hug, show appropriate affection, and be friends with each other in front of their children.

Last week, Addie was getting ready to go to bed. I usually put her to bed, but she decided that she wanted Brian to that night. "Can you put me to bed, Daddy? You're my best friend. I know you're Mommy's boyfriend......" Then she paused. "Mommy, is he still your boyfriend?"

Brian is not just my husband. He will forever be my boyfriend, the one I still date, the one who makes me laugh, the one who makes me take a different type of look at situations that I want to see my way, the one who balances my strengths and weaknesses. Is our relationship perfect? No. We are two imperfect people, but I want my children to see that these two imperfect people love each other all the time.

When a child perceives more weakness than strength in that relationship (marriage), he experiences a low-level anxiety that ultimately affects every other learning discipline.

Every phase of your child's development, every behavior, all disciplines of life are impacted by this one special relationship.

As a former school teacher, I can tell you that the children that had the lowest grades and behavioral issues in my class were always the ones from unstable homes where parents were in constant war with each other, where they had so many days with Dad and so many days with Mom, where Dad had issues because Mom had moved on and was in a new relationship, or where the parents were in the process of separating.

Then somehow, it was my job to figure out how to get the child to better in school! Sadly, there was only so much I could do. Needless to say, these children loved school because it was there that their environment was stable.

One particular class had a great majority of children (especially boys) from homes like the ones mentioned above. Recently, I had the opportunity to see one of "my boys" and heard that almost all of those boys had or were in the process of joining the military. Why? I think they are still seeking stability, even as young men.

Childwise Principle #1- Great marriages make great parents.

Children- even teens- thrive on the demonstration of love between parents.

There is always a debate about parents showing affection to each other in front of their children. Some think it is inappropriate. Others think it is important.

Brian and I agree with the statement above. We are very appropriate in how we show affection to each other in front of the kids, but we feel it is important for them to see what appropriate affection looks like. I want my children to know that affection between a husband and wife is normal and that the sizzle doesn't die after the honeymoon.

In our "world" today, most young people are under the impression that "love", romance, and physical displays of affection are only for the teenage community and young adult singles. Oh, not true!

Face it, our children are going to see people hugging, kissing, and touching each other at some point in their lives (preferably later rather than sooner), whether they are watching a movie (envelope is constantly being pushed as to how much can be done without crossing the line), walking through the mall (where are the parents!), or flipping channels and a commercial pops up (nothing is safe any more). Don't you want them to know what real love looks like in an environment where you can control what they see?

I am going to leave you with this picture and quote that I found on a friend's Face Book wall. Thanks for sharing, Amanda! May this be the picture of marriage that our children see in us.


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