The Mistake of Putting Children First
Alone At Last
I once had a friend who went away on a long anticipated weekend with her husband. She told me how much her husband looked forward to the weekend because they had neverbeen away alone.
Because she had a child from a previous marriage, everything they’d ever done their entire relationship revolved around family life. Her husband planned this trip, took care of all of the details, made arrangements for caring for their three little dogs, and drove them off on a Friday morning.
Friday night, her 19-year-old daughter called her and told her that her boyfriend had proposed.
That night, this friend packed herself and her husband up and drove the 4 hours home so that she could see the engagement ring and start making wedding plans with her daughter.
We Have A Problem
I think typing this out like this, anyone reading it is able to see the problems in this relationship. This woman put her daughter before her husband, without apologies, their entire marriage.
Just because her daughter had reached that pinnacle of adulthood, that didn’t change. SHE was the most important person in this wife’s life, and her husband fell well second – likely third if we wanted to elevate the status of the dogs into relationship mode.
In researching this phenomenon of putting children before your spouse, I came across the term “American Parenting” – and how that describes this modern way of elevating parenting to a religion complete with children demi-gods who deserve our worship and full focus.
I’ve found article after article — written almost exclusively by women — with the argument that children need to be the center of our world.
I came across one blogger who wrote something that gave evidence to me as to where the disconnect is coming. “My husband can tie his own shoes and make his own dinner. He doesn’t need me right now.”
The parenting that we do that comes with preparing meals for our children or tying their shoes has nothing to do with the placing of children above our husbands.
When my children were little, I prepared meals and tied shoes all day long, and still knew the need to put my husband in my priorities second only to God.
“Putting your husband first” is not in terms of physical actions or needs so much as it is your emotional and spiritual connection. Over and over again, I see children more important in a wife’s emotions than a husband.
One blogger actually said, “In order if importance, I place my children, then my friends, then my husband – but don’t tell him. He doesn’t know!”
The other night, skimming social media, I saw a friend make a reference to her children and complete it with “my children are my life.”
I appreciate the sentimentality that might spur a woman to say such a thing; however, I see mothers say things like that all the time, and if it’s true, then what we have is a society of women with giant holes in their lives.
On Temporary Loan
Our children are given to us to raise and nurture, to train up in the way of God so that when they are old they won’t depart from it.
But once they reach a point of maturity, they become their own adults, responsible to God for their decisions and no longer responsible to us. Our spouses still remain right here by our sides.
God never intended our children to be our life. In John 14:6, Jesus said,
“I am the way, the truth, and the life.”
Taking that even a step further, Christ’s relationship with the church is compared to a relationship between a husband and wife — not a parent and child.
He Needs You
No matter how young or old your children are, despite what that blogger above said, your spouse needs you — needs your love or respect, needs your physical commitment, needs your attention and your focus, needs your intentional loving.
In my article titled The Beauty of Submission, I explained: Genesis 2:20-24 says,
“I will make him a helper suitable for him…and they will become one flesh.”
The term “one” used here is the same term used in Deuteronomy 6:4 describing the Holy Trinity:
“Hear O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one.”
I think that is a powerful message from God that puts husband and wife as one – one flesh, one in the eyes of God as much as the Trinity of God is one.
In the “American parenting” model, children are treated as equals, part of decision making, catered to when it comes to meals, activities, money, and entertainment.
They tend to operate under blurred lines of expectations and standards. Beyond how unhealthy it is for the child to be the number one priority for a parent, doing so will also generate a feeling of resentment from the neglected spouse.
Over time, all of it will snowball until the marriage itself is at risk.
Blending Well In mixed/step family, those extremes have a tendency to become even worse. As the mother of a child who was raised with a stepfather, I can understand that at times there may be a knee-jerk reaction to step in try to be a buffer between adult and stepchild, to make sure everyone gets along and is happy — but as many times as I may have felt the impulse, I held it in check.
Doing so would have done nothing than create battlefields that had no business in our home. I am one with my husband – and no matter who our daughter’s biological father is, and no matter what the dynamics are or were in his home, in our home, we parented as a single unit with no separation.
The result of that is a 20-year-old daughter who has a healthy relationship with both of us and considers us a single parenting unit — even though she was five-years-old when we got married.
Emotionally, spiritually, my husband comes first. I have three children, yet there isn’t another human being on this earth who is more important to me than him.
And I am confident in the knowledge that I come first to him. Whatever that looks like to you. Breastfeeding a baby while pregnant with another and seeing to the wants and needs of my then 10-year-old did not change that.
What’s more, I’m brilliantly designed by my Creator to be able to see to the emotional and physical needs of my children, make them feel loved and secured, and raise them in the way that they should go, while at the same time putting my husband first.