Sunday, June 10, 2012

Marriage Tips for the First Decade: Take off the Mask (Mask #6)

Mask #6: Kids will complete or at least improve your family.

Scripture to consider:But Jesus called for them, saying, ‘Permit the children to come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.’
(Luke 18:16-17, NASB)

The General Reality: The question that all prospective parents should ask themselves before having a child is why do I want to have a child?  The answer will likely vary from parent to parent, but the answer is important.  Here are a few reasons that I’ve heard:
·         They are cute and fun.

·         I’m getting older and I need to have kids before it’s too late.

·         I think having kids will improve my relationship with my spouse because they will add happiness.

·         I see all my friends having kids and it seems like the right thing to do.

·         Seeing others’ happiness with theirs kids prompted me to have kids of my own.

·         I want to be able to care for another human being because it provides great joy to me.

·         I feel kids will complete my family.
If you want to add to this list, feel free to comment on this article below.  The interesting thing is that whatever your reason is in the beginning, I believe there is a good chance that your view may change after having children for the first time or sometimes after having additional children.  Now I don’t claim to be even a little bit close to being an expert in children but here is what I’ve learned since I started having children:
·        I am a very selfish person.

·         Before having children, I never knew what it truly meant to serve others who could not help themselves.

·         Putting others before me is much more challenging than I thought.

·         Children can be exhausting, challenge your marriage, and test your self-control.

·         Children add a significant amount of stress to the family, no matter how much I want to deny it.

·         I wasted more valuable time before having children than I care to admit.

·         Loving others in the way that children need to be loved takes a lot of blood, sweat, and tears.

·         It is especially important to have a strong connection with your spouse at all times.  Children almost never make it easier for the marriage relationship to thrive.
For those of you who may not have children yet, this list may scare you or even make you ask yourself why I had kids at all.  If this is accurate, I’m glad because this is exactly what I want you to think.  I humbly admit that I’m not sure that all of the reasons I wanted to have kids were healthy.  It isn’t until after having kids that I started learning important lessons from them and that is still in process today.  We believe that we can use our life-experiences to teach our children how to be outstanding citizens one day.  I do not deny that this is part of the process.  However, I also believe that God uses children to teach us just as much as we teach them as parents.  After all, God is our heavenly Father, isn’t He?
Since all of us differ so much and I am no expert, I cannot begin to give you a black and white answer about the right time to have kids, the right amount of kids to have, or even necessarily the right reasons to have kids, but I can give you a list of dos and don’ts that I have learned to date.  You can take it or leave it:
·         See your children as an opportunity to learn unselfish behavior.

·         Put yourself aside as much as you possibly can to love your children. 

·         Make sure you and your spouse love on each other as much as possible in front of your children.

·         See your children as an opportunity to let go of the “small stuff.”

·         Laugh, enjoy their silliness, and share often.

·         Take it day by day and do not take it for granted.  There is no guarantee that tomorrow will come for one or more members of your family.  Make each day count!  As cliché as this sounds, it could not be more true.

·         Let your children, through their innocence, teach you true humility.

·         Pay attention to how they treat complete strangers.  There is something very special and important for parents to learn in that area.

·         See your children as an opportunity to grow the population of Christ-followers.

·         Pray over your children daily.  If you do not have kids, pray about it before having them.

·         See your children as a burden or extra work.

·         Think for one second that kids will fix or improve a broken marriage.

·         Listen to the opinions of friends, family members, or outsiders.  These decisions are best made from within your marriage.

·         Have kids outside of marriage.  However, if you do have children outside of marriage, children are still a blessing from God and should never be frowned upon for any reason. 

·         Sweat the small stuff.

·         Assume that your children will do no wrong or that they will supersede other children.  They will fail you; it’s a promise from God.  So many parents believe that they will avoid the challenges that other parents encounter but do not be so foolish.  This is an unavoidable part of being human.  You cannot win at this so save yourself the stress and take it day by day.

·         Neglect the opportunity to talk daily to your children about God and what He did/does for us.

·         Forget to pray with your children daily.
We’ve all seen divorce after children.  Many (I may even be bold enough to say the majority) of us come from broken families.  Yet, still so many young parents believe that children will fix a broken relationship.  To be blunt, I am warning you, do not have children unless you love your spouse more than anyone else.  The relationship you have with your spouse may be the single, most important example that your kids have for how to love another person.  This example will be carried with them throughout their lives.  Your marriage relationship is foundational to your entire family.
The most important advice I can give you in this article as a foundational aspect of everything above is to love your spouse and let your kids see how much, every single day that you live!  From that relationship, more than enough love should spill over to your kids.  Truth: Your spouse comes before your kids.  It may not always feel right, but your kids crave this more than you know because that’s just the way God designed it!

Conversation Starters

·         What are your reasons for having children?

·         For those that already have children, how has your view of life, children, and family changed since you’ve had children?

·         What challenges or accomplishments have you encountered while raising your children thus far?

Things to Try

·         Pray at least once a day with each of your children.

·         If you are considering having children, ask God to shape you into the parent He needs you to be and let Him know that you want to have kids in His perfect timing.

·         Talk with your spouse and ask them how they feel about kids.  Make sure you are both on the same page before trying.

1 comment:

  1. I say this is a very good point that kids should not be the basis of getting Married. From the start of time in Genesis God created Man and then Woman. When he was done he said that this was good. It was complete. Kids do not complete a family, they are a bonus, an addition to the family. They are a gift and a chance for us as parents to learn even more about God's love for us and possibly live a day in his shoes.

    Great Job.