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How to Get Your House in Order

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I read a blog post from husband and wife team Danielle and Astro Teller recently that struck a chord with me. It said that, “Sometime between when we were children and when we had children of our own, parenthood became a religion in America.” They went on to point out that, like many religions, parenthood has been elevated to a place of wholehearted devotion and sacrifice that can’t be questioned. To do so is to risk being labeled a heretic. The number one casualty of our new form of worship? American marriages. If you’ve fallen victim to the parenting as a religion mind-set, it may be time to get your house in order.

Hear me out on this: Parenting is a high calling. Our children are blessings, and we should give them our best. But modern American parenting often elevates caring for and providing for our children to an unhealthy level that is damaging to our marriages and (get this!) actually hurts our kids. By more or less worshiping them during the formative years, we distort our kids’ perceptions of themselves and their place in the world. And then, when our little idols up and leave, we’re left with a spouse we barely know in a home that loses all meaning without children.

Ask yourself these five questions to see if you’ve turned parenting into a religion and if it’s silently damaging your marriage.

1. Do I treat my marriage as the primary and most important relationship in my life?

Aside from your relationship with God, your marriage should be number one. And, while lots of parents can agree with that idea in theory, the way they live out daily life doesn’t validate it. The needs/desires of the kids always come first — over the needs of the spouse or marriage relationship. We understand that younger children especially need you more much of the time. But be honest: Is your spouse perpetually holding the runner-up trophy?

2. Do you disapprove of couples who occasionally steal a weekend or a vacation without the kids?

I was having a conversation with another mom a few years ago about a third couple when she remarked, knowingly, “They’re the kind of people who go on trips and leave their kids at home with the grandparents.” What kind of people are those I wondered? People who still like each other? People who don’t think their kids are so fragile they will crumble in the care of loving friends and family for a few days? “We’re those kind of people, too,” I told her, with a smile. Conversation over.

3. When you do get time alone with your husband, do you struggle to find things to talk about?

Having every corner of your marriage invested in parenting can leave a couple with little else to connect over. {Tweet This} If you have absolutely nothing to say to one another (besides discussing the kids) when you’re alone, you may have succumbed to “children as the center of the universe” syndrome. Try making a loose rule that date night is for talking about other things and remember that he was an interesting person before he was a daddy.

4. Do your children exhibit signs of feeling entitled to your constant attention?

If your kids have a meltdown when you leave for a date night or refuse to back up and out of the room when you say you want to talk to daddy alone for a while, it’s possible that you’ve created the monster by conditioning them to think they are entitled to your total focus all the time. You can restore balance in their thinking, but it will have to be intentional on your part.

5. Do you feel like a failure if work or other responsibilities take you away from your kids’ activities?

We understand that there’s a tension here. It’s entirely possible to be too devoted to your career to the detriment of your children. But on the flip side, a mom or dad who comes to most all of the games or performances your child participates in, but has to miss a few to take care of professional or volunteer commitments, is not a bad parent. Your job is what enables you to feed, clothe, and educate your children. There are other real needs in your community where your help is needed. By taking a balanced approach, you’re teaching your children that a life well lived encompasses a lot of different things.

© 2014 iMOM. All Rights Reserved. Family First, All Pro Dad, iMOM, and Family Minute with Mark Merrill are registered trademarks.


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