“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” --Romans 12:2 (New Living Translation)
Do you feel tingly when you read that verse? Do your eyes widen, and does a smile spread across your cheeks as you think of the possibilities of the word new? We all love something new: a new book, new clothes . . . and how about the thrill of transforming something old into something new? But new comes with a price. New shoes don’t come free, and even making something new out of something old comes with a price: hard work.
Does your approach to parenting need a little transforming? Perhaps you’ve fallen into the trap of being the “good” mother, and in doing so, you’ve suddenly found yourself exhausted, your marriage in dire straights, and no idea what it means to have a peaceful home. By today’s definition, being the good mother means being available to your children 24/7, regardless of their ages. Women are so focused on their children that their marriages are being put on hold--and in some cases, the damage is irrevocable. Children are more disobedient than ever, and you’re asking, “What did I do wrong?”
Guilt comes when we choose to put something—anything—before our children. But here’s the truth: your children will have a better chance of happiness when YOU are happy. They will thrive when they have happily married parents. Joy and peace have a greater chance of reigning when God’s plan for the family is carried out.
After the first two years of life, the time when your precious angel needs you to care for his every need has come to a close—and THAT is when most mothers fail to return to their husbands. He needs a partner, a companion, a lover, a playmate, and a friend. You need each other to witness the other’s life, to parent as a team, and to make memories that you can replay to each other long after the youngest one has left the nest. By placing this relationship above all others in the home, you give your children security, peace, and ultimately happiness. When marriage takes a back seat to a relationship with a child, the balance is thrown. You should love your children but not be “in love” with your children.
All is not lost, dear friends. If your priorities are a little out of whack, don’t bemoan the past—but don’t continue this pattern either. Here are some ways that you can restore the order that God intended for your home:
1. If your children are over age two, encourage their independence. Let go of the lie that boundaries are bad. Children must learn to do for themselves in order to desire doing for others. Esteeming a child to the point that he still believes he is the center of your world beyond age two produces the opposite result most well-intentioned parents want. Your goal is to foster self respect, which grows respect for others. Holding on to your image of that sweet babe (who, just yesterday was swaddled so tight!), keeps him and YOU from much happiness and growth.
2. If you’ve stopped dating your husband, please start again! Dates don’t have to cost a thing. Something as simple as an early bedtime for the kiddos, no matter their ages, might be all you need. Let your children see how important you are to one another and that your relationship is worth your focus. By dating and respecting one another, setting aside time each day just for the two of you, you’re showing your children the kind of man or woman you want them to one day have, as well as modeling how to treat that future spouse.
3. Let your children fail. There comes that guilt again! Whether it stems from wanting your child to “like” you, terror over seeing him hurt (no matter how minor), or fear of how their failures will make YOU look, if you always come to his rescue—well, how will he learn to deal with adversity or know the value of hard work? Some of the greatest joys come about because of the greatest trials. Don’t be constantly available to your children to correct or prevent every failure. Use this time to be available to your husband and not fail his need for your attention.
So let’s try a new approach. Let this be the year that you shower your husband, not your children, with endless attention. Remember your wedding day? You didn’t marry your children; you married your husband, and you married him for life. Mothers, I know you’ve thanked the Lord a million times for that beautiful bundle of joy that the doctor placed in your arms. Let this be the year that you thank Him just as often for the gift of your spouse.