Do you realize your parenting affects the trust factor in your marriage?
One of the most important areas in which trust is built or destroyed in marriage is how you deal with your children. Having children, for most couples, is the easy part. Rearing those children to become healthy, responsible people is not so easy. Let’s face it; children are expensive and can be a lot of work if you do child rearing as you should.
There was a time in our country when the basic idea was that the husband earned the money and the wife did most, if not all, of the child raising.This attitude, I believe, is a very limited view of how parenting ought to be done. Thankfully, I see many young fathers taking a very active role in the care and discipline of their children. This is as it should be and builds strong ties with the child and trust with the wife.
However, there are moms and dads who, because of laziness, selfishness, or some other reason, put the work of parenting on their spouse. This is hurtful to the child and undermines the trust that is so basic to the marriage. What is there that a couple has that should be more important than the child they have brought into the world? To neglect the rearing of your child is a sin against the very marriage that gave the child its life. Such neglect can do nothing but destroy trust in your marriage.
As you realize, there is a lot more to rearing your child than the physical care and nurture they require. They are moral, spiritual beings which need guidance and spiritual foundations. Your time is limited,there is only a relatively small amount of time you have to lay the foundations of character and faith upon which the remainder of your child’s life will be built.
So, commit to work together to rear your child to have a positive influence on the world. By doing this you will build a trusting relationship in your marriage and give your child the character and balance he/she needs to face the challenges of life.
Trust is vital in marriage. I recently heard of a situation where a young wife had discovered her husband was having an affair. When she confronted him about his unfaithfulness and the marriage vows he took he replied, “That’s just a piece of paper.” The “piece of paper” he was referencing was, of course, the marriage license. There are several things wrong with a scenario like this.
First, adultery is wrong. It is a breach of trust between a man and a woman who have agreed to be faithful to each other. There may be lots of excuses as to why a person succumbs to this temptation but there is no real justification for it. If a person isn’t mature enough to keep their libido in check they shouldn’t take on the responsibility of marriage. Adultery is the breaking of the trust which is vital to a healthy marriage. Trust can be repaired but only through a truly repentant attitude and hard work.
Second, there was probably a lot of misplaced trust in this situation. Sometimes, people allow passion to over rule wisdom. All of us need to be loved but we may fail to use caution when giving our love to someone else. Why? Because our desire and need for the security of being loved is so strong that we may naively accept the other person’s “I love you” as the real deal. The truth is that lots of folks talk about love without the foggiest notion of what real love is. But, we want to be “loved’ and are liable to fall for any counterfeit.In the instance cited above, trust was blind and naive.
Third, situations such as this cause me to question the character of those involved. I tend to see adultery in this instance as a symptom of a dysfunctional marriage. Something at the core of the marriage wasn’t right. There was no solid basis for trust because there wasn’t character to build on.
When a man and woman have committed to each other to be honest and meet each other’s needs a solid trust develops. The glue that holds relationships together in tough times involves the trust that has been built by the way they have cared for each other before the tough times come. We learn to trust our spouse, or vice versa, because we know them.
Trustworthiness is a part of good character and it is wise to have a good idea about the “character” you are thinking about marrying before you say “I do.”
More on this in The Trust Factor: Marriage (part two)
Do you think of your child as an “accident”? Be careful because our attitude or opinion about where our child came from is very important. Why is this so? One reason is because our attitudes tend to “seep out” sooner or later and our child picks up on this at an emotional level.
Our children sense how we really think and feel about them. As a parent, it’s difficult to hide our true estimate of our child. Our words, tone of voice, the “looks” we give them, the way we touch them and many other things we do send important messages to them.
I have sometimes heard a parent thoughtlessly say their child was an “accident.” Well, maybe you “accidently” became pregnant. However, I would caution you not to let statements like that ever form on your lips.
No child should be exposed to the idea that they were an “accident.” Did you “accidently” have sexual intercourse? Own the issue. Take responsibility and do not leave the impression your child wasn’t wanted. A child can be unplanned but should never be unwanted.
A child does not ask to be born. He has no decision in the process which caused the conception which gives him life. He deserves parents who will take responsibility for their decisions and will lovingly accept and care for him. If you are not at that point, I suggest you grow up. Your child needs a grown-up for a parent.
Does God view a child as an accident? Of course not. The biblical view is that a child is a gift from God. Couples who are tuned in to this idea understand that their ability to conceive is a gift from God.
It is encouraging to see childless couples go through expensive medical procedures or adopt in order to bring a child into their family. Such procedures often take years, with lots of money and heartache involved. Children who come into such families are usually blessed by parents who want them and know where they really come from.
Are your words and actions consistent with the biblical view your child is a gift from God?
Do you realize your fears can hinder your child’s physical development? Yes,that’s true and your child’s inability to accomplish certain ordinary things can work against his confidence and positive view of himself. Let me explain.
Several years ago Joey (not his real name), about ten, was brought to me because he had almost become paralyzed by his fear of bugs. He didn’t want to play outside and, therefore, avoided it whenever possible. Instead of engaging in outdoor activities he developed a strong attachment to video games he could play inside. The parents did little to counter his fears until Joey insisted he wanted to join the Boy Scouts. That’s when they brought him to me.
The parents were concerned that “scouting” would put him in situations where he would encounter bugs and many different kinds of critters.(I believe, in his own way, Joey was asking for help).After building trust with him, we did activities to ally his fear of bugs. Through much work, he actually came to the place where he could hold a bug in his hand, a great accomplishment!
The bigger issue I found was that Joey was severely limited in many things a ten-year-old might do. He could not ride a bicycle and was woefully behind in his ability to hit a ball or play other games boys his age could play. The source of Joey’s problem was his mother’s fear which resulted in over-protection. The father, to this point, had been complicit in that he had not pushed back against her emotional control of Joey. The road ahead for Joey and the development of a good sense of himself would be more difficult than it had to be because he was physically behind in several skills. Of course, this delay affected his confidence in social relations as well.
As a parent you have lots of influence on your child’s physical,emotional and social development. You must realize what your fears are and not impose them on your child.While it is your job to protect your child from situations they cannot handle you must also realize your child needs to be allowed to do things that can be hurtful. Of course, your child could be stung by an insect. Of course, he could have a wreck on a bicycle. Yes, he could be hit by a ball. However, taking risks is a part of the process of growing up. It is your job to encourage certain risks which can lead to skill development and the building of confidence. Choose activities that are age-appropriate and do what you can to keep your child safe.
Allowing your child to acquire game skills and other individual physical skills is part of helping him develop a good sense of himself. Being able to participate in things other boys and girls do also has the potential for building social and emotional skills.
What messages does your child get about himself from you? The most important factor in your child’s personal sense of value is how significant others, especially you, view him.
As his parent you have a uniquely influential role in how your child values or devalues himself. No one’s opinions and attitudes (messages) are as important as yours in the life of your young child. The early impression he gains about himself from you tend to be very powerful for most of his life. Why do you play such an important role in the way your child sees himself?
Try to imagine yourself as a large mirror into which your child is constantly gazing. In that mirror (you) he is picking up attitudes or feelings about himself. To a large degree, this is what is happening on an emotional level between you and your child. Your child has an uncanny ability to interpret the meaning of what you say or do at an emotional level.
Don’t be alarmed by this and think you can never make a mistake with your child lest you ruin him for life. You can, and will, say and do things you regret but it is the repeated and uncorrected errors that do the most damage. If you have a negative way of talking with your child he will eventually believe what you keep saying about him. He will believe himself to be what you say he is.
Good parents understand their need to discipline themselves in the way they treat their children. They know their words and actions have the power to bless or curse their children. Good parents also know they are human and make mistakes with their children. And good parents apologize and change their behavior when they mess up.
Can your child be who God made him to be and still be loved by you? Unconditional acceptance of your child is a major ingredient in his healthy view of himself. But to accept your child unconditionally isn’t as easy as it may seem on the surface.
What does unconditional acceptance mean? It basically means you accept the totality of who he is. He or she has a physical body which means you must care for him and nourish that body until he can adequately care for himself.
For example, some folks”love” babies at a distance; they are repulsed by dirty diapers and other messes they make. Accepting your child unconditionally also means you must accept and adapt to their emotional, social and intellectual immaturity.
Another critical part of unconditional love is to accept your child’s gender. You may have “ordered” a girl and got a boy. What do you do with that? The healthy and loving thing to do is to be happy and celebrate what God gave you.
You do yourself and your child a great disservice by denying reality and secretly wishing for a different result or, even worse, openly stating your displeasure with the child’s gender. Do not allow your child’s gender to affect the way you treat your him/her. It’s amazing how little children can pick up on the feelings of their parents. So, be careful.
Your unconditional love accepts your child as a work in progress. He needs to grow physically and in all other aspects of his life. While you accept him for where he is now, you also accept him for what he can become. That love creates an environment which challenges and encourages him to grow.
He is acceptable but his bad behavior and attitude are not. As your child grows, incorporate loving discipline which will guide him to a more mature handling of his feeling and actions.
Unconditional acceptance will create in you a healthy tension between accepting him for where he is and his need to continually grow toward maturity.
Were you unconditionally loved by your parents? If so, how has that sense of being loved blessed you and freed you to be yourself? If not, how has that lack of acceptance troubled or hindered you?
While working as a therapist I saw many adults who were still seeking their parent’s approval; in some cases, the parent was deceased. This feeling of ” not quite good enough” often leads to all kinds of dysfunctional behaviors.
Some are “driven”to succeed while others seem determined to fail. The common denominator for these folks is a void that only being unconditionally loved can supply. Parents may have died years ago but the adult child , often very accomplished, still strives for that elusive sense of being unconditionally loved.
The struggle to feel accepted just as you are is often a long and difficult one. To break this negative way of thinking and acting you must accept the fact that all your efforts to get your parent’s approval have not worked. More importantly, you need to come to realize the problem was with your parent, not you. When you break this pattern, you can do for your child something very important to his well being. You can spare him the futile searching for approval by letting him know you accept him unconditionally.
Do you want to take some steps to help your child feel unconditionally loved? Here are some practical things you can do to help your child in this area. All this may seem counter intuitive if you have been reared in a negative, critical environment. But, do them anyway and you will help your child develop a positive sense of him self.
Emphasize the positive. Your child will make mistakes but your emphasis needs to be on how to learn from those mistakes.
Be patient with his childishness and gently help him grow and make good decisions.
Expect good behavior and look for ways to compliment him on his good choices.
Here is a final word on this. Give your child a good example to follow. Your child’s sense of identity and emotional development are greatly influenced by who you are. You are their first and most powerful image of a man or woman. Your loving, encouraging character can be a lifelong inspiration for them to be the best person they can be.
How can you really love someone without “knowing” them? If the ultimate goal of love is to do what is in their best interest, how can you love someone well without”knowing” them? You can have an attitude of acceptance and tolerance or an emotional connection with people which could be interpreted as love. However, loving someone as intimately as you should love your child is a different kind of love.
“Knowing” your child is vitally important to loving him well. How well do you know your child? While your child has similarities to his siblings or other children, in general, there is a real sense each child is unique. Knowledge of your child’s uniqueness is an important key in how you relate to him and how you provide loving discipline for him.
Children reared in the same home often experience that environment differently. This is true for various reasons such as personality differences, birth order, and your growth in being a good parent. The implication of all this is that you need to be a student of each child and not assume that when you have “figured out” what makes one child “tick” the others will be like him. Not so.
Discipline is an important area in which you need to know your children individually. Parents sometimes make the mistake of assuming one method, such as spanking, is the best solution for all their children and for all offences. The reality is that what may prove effective for one child doesn’t really work for another. Why? You know the answer. Your children are different.
If one of the purposes of parental discipline is to bring about self-discipline doesn’t it stand to reason that you need to consider what method reaches your child’s heart? Any method of discipline we use to correct or encourage our child’s behavior should pass two important tests. Does it show I know and love my child and will it, if used consistently, bring about the change I desire ?
How well do you really know your child? The answer to this question probably indicates the health of your love for him.
Are you taking the ” long look” in how your rear your child? Healthy love takes the “long look”. Healthy love does not settle for what is convenient or what does not lead to the best for your child in the long run. Healthy love must sometimes be tough. It tolerates you child’s discomfort and anger. It is smart, knowledgeable.
To be able to choose what is in the best interest of our child implies some knowledge of what life is about.. It means we choose to teach our child values and our expectations based on convictions we have about life-questions. What is life’s purpose? Are we accountable for the way we live? Are there basic character traits that are healthy and to be sought after? What does God expect of me as a parent?
It seems obvious to me that a solid grounding in biblical principles is indispensable if we seek to do what is best for our child. Such knowledge grounds you in how to deal with specific issues. It also helps you make judgments about what to glean and discard from parenting information you get through reading and other sources.
Biblical principles should form the base or foundation of what you choose to teach your child. Upon those biblical principles you can build methods and concepts, consistent with those principles, which will help you in providing a healthy love for your child.
What are you currently doing to make yourself more able to make decisions which help your child in the long term?