Most days around here, I talk about my marriage rather than about my three young adult sons who matter monumentally to my life and family. But, make no mistake! Being a mom has been my highest calling and greatest joy.
I can still remember the day each of my sons were born like it was yesterday. The moment my babies were placed in my arms, I instantly fell in love with each one of them and that feeling continues to grow deeper with each passing year.
It felt as if each of my sons were a part of me. And even after they were born, I felt like they were extensions of my life—not just of my family—for many years.
When each of them launched out on their own, I would tell people it felt like my heart was walking around out in the world … a dangerous world, to boot!
What touches their lives, touches me in the most vulnerable places of my heart.
Can you relate?
Honestly, I could not manage that motherly love and bond very well, especially early on in their lives. Like many young mothers, I gave in to the temptation to let my affection and concern for my children override my affection and concern for my spouse.
I made my children my foundation and priority for my life and family. This is a burden that is far too great for children to carry. And it can actually weaken and crack your family’s foundation.
God never intended for our children or our parents to be the ones we cling to in marriage.
“That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” Genesis 2:24
The Bible does not say that we become one with our children nor does it say build your family on the foundation of your children. We protect our children’s hearts by building our marriage on Christ and our families on the foundation of our marriages.
In my life, this upside-down foundation showed itself in a variety of ways …
- Giving more attention and time to my children than to my husband.
- Favoring them when my husband’s parenting seemed wrong.
- Being freer with my affection for them than with my husband.
- Making them and their preferences my priority over my husband’s.
With these in mind, I want to offer you some of the lessons I’ve gleaned from when I was out-of-balance in my parenting.
Thankfully, at about 15 years in, I woke up to how destructive my attitudes and actions were on my children, family and marriage.
Unfortunately, this meant my children and husband had a long history of being negatively impacted by my idolatrous choices.
Yes, I made my children my idol.
If it were not for the healing power of God and His amazing redemption of my situation, I’m not sure where my husband nor my children would be today.
4 Ways to Avoid Weakening Your Family by Idolizing Your Children
1. Give at least as much time and attention to your spouse as you do your kids.
I realize that the younger your children are, the more they need your time and attention. But if you do not carve out times to fully engage with your spouse—getting conversations times and dates on the docket—your marriage will suffer. Then everyone will suffer. Maybe not today or tomorrow …
But someday down the road, you may be dragging your children through divorce court because you neglected their mommy or daddy.
If you have trouble gauging your progress here, ask another same-gender friend to pray for and hold each other accountable. Text or call each other weekly, asking each other how well you did on giving time and attention to your spouses.
2. Remain committed to a united front with your spouse.
Another mother who did not do this well was Rebekah of Rebekah-and-Isaac fame. Rebekah was not content to leave a decision for their son’s birthright in her husband’s hands. She felt as if he was making the wrong decision.
So, not only did Rebekah buck her husband’s authority on this decision, she deceived him into thinking he was giving his birthright to their son Esau when he was actually giving it to their other son (Gen. 27:5-13; Gen. 27:20-29).
There are so many times in marriage when we think our own way is superior to our spouse’s way of parenting. And there may be occasions when we’re in the right. But if we disagree with our spouse in front of our children—especially about parenting—we all lose.
[bctt tweet=”It’s like taking a sledgehammer to the foundation under our children’s feet and they will be the ones falling into the cracks! Find out what it is at MM!” username=”BethSteffaniak”]
Doing this also teaches your children to resist other authority figures in their lives. They will come to think that they are being mistreated and need someone to rescue them from a demanding teacher, boss, spouse, etc. It’s a recipe for disaster!
3. Make being affectionate with your spouse a daily priority.
And, I might add, show lots of affection to your spouse in front of your children! 😉
This helps them to feel more secure because they see that mommy and daddy clearly love each other. It also teaches them how to be affectionate people who go on to be affectionate spouses one day.
I’ve struggled here for this very reason—it wasn’t modeled for me in my home growing up. This has left me more insecure in my ability to show affection. I’m still somewhat afraid of rejection even though my husband never turns affection down! Silly me!
Ultimately, this helps your spouse to feel more secure in your love. And your love will grow in accordance with your actions as well.
4. Prioritize your spouse’s preferences above your children’s.
This one is similar to number 2 since not making your spouse a priority divides you in marriage. If you don’t make your spouse a priority, your mate will begin to feel like you love your children more than you love him or her. And, this practice WILL skew your feelings in time in that dangerous direction.
But, if you make your spouse’s preferences your first priority and your children’s your next priority, you will feel greater love not only for your spouse but also for your children.
To be clear …
[bctt tweet=”Loving God first, then your spouse, then your children, allows God’s love to flow more freely to all concerned. #love #marriage #Jesus” username=”BethSteffaniak”]
Maybe you fear that your spouse will take advantage of this, essentially stealing opportunities away from your children. But, in most cases, deferring to your spouse allows him or her to feel more secure in your love and, in turn, more inclined to be generous with your children.
If not, use this as a litmus test for knowing whether you need to seek marriage counseling. When a spouse does not operate with the children’s best interest in mind, you’ll need outside guidance and support to resolve this problem.
Interested in a Bible study that will take you on an inspiring journey through the story of the birth of Christ? Then have I got the book for you!
My Bible study, Messiah in a Manger, is on sale now and for a limited time leading up to the season of Advent. Click this link for the paperback that’s on sale for just $3.99 and click this link for the Kindle version that’s on sale for .99 cents!
Then come and join me, going through this study in a closed Facebook group. You’ll be able to interact virtually with me and the other participants, view my Facebook live videos that will discuss a summary of the notes and comments for the week, and will be given many other resources like FREE printables, templates and tools.
The study will kick off the week of December 6, 2020 and will go for two weeks. You don’t have to buy the book to particpate, but going through the study with others is the perfect way to prepare your heart for Christmas! Click here to request to join and reserve your spot now! For more info on the Facebook Bible Study, click here.
[bctt tweet=”Make sure to get your copy of Messiah in a Manger while it’s still on sale! Click the link to find out more! #Christmas #Christmaspeace” username=”BethSteffaniak”]
How have you struggled to balance your great love for your children with your love for your spouse?
Which of the four principles do you need to work on the most?
Here are some lovely linkups I join – Inspire Me Monday, Purposeful Faith, Tell His Story, InstaEncouragements Linkup, Recharge Wednesday, Worth Beyond Rubies Wednesday, Tune in Thursday, Heart Encouragement, Grace and Truth, and Faith on Fire Friday.
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