Photo used with permission by incourage.me
This is a post is adapted from an article I wrote in 2012 for The Dallas Morning News’ Briefing Moms Panel. Our kids are older, but our home is still the most important place on Earth.
If you knock on our front door, you will find yourself standing underneath a sign that reads “The Most Important Place on Earth.” And our home is the most important place on Earth to our kids.
No matter what else our kids are exposed to in school, activities or anywhere in world, their most significant life lessons will be learned in our home — for better or worse.
A big part of what our kids take into adulthood comes from the example of marriage my husband and I set. Because our marriage plays out in front of our kids, here are three things my husband and I do purposely for our little audience (and each other!):
Speak up: My husband and I speak highly and lovingly about each other to our kids — especially when the other spouse is not around. While my husband is at work, I mention him throughout the day in a positive light — how smart he is, how funny he is, etc. I don’t say anything negative or sarcastic about him. Our kids know that I love their father dearly and I am his biggest fan.
Enough negative speech will find its way into our children’s ears. I don’t want the root of any negativity to be a memory of their mother speaking critically of their father. Our kids need to know that in this family, we are for each other. The way I talk about their father goes a long way in that direction.
(Boundary) Line up: Every marriage has conflict, but it’s how conflict is dealt with that’s important. Early in our marriage, we established conflict boundaries – lines we would not cross during a conflict – to keep anger and emotions from escalating during disagreements. We knew we would have conflicts, but we decided that moving through with our eyes on resolution would be our game plan.
Some of our conflict boundaries include no yelling, no name-calling, no profanity, and no use of “always” and “never” (as in “you always do that” or “you never do this”).
Now, some people hear this list and ask, “What’s left? That is conflict at our house.” What remains are two people with feelings intact who don’t have to apologize for verbally ripping their spouse to shreds.
Our marriage is not all sunshine and rainbows, but having boundaries keeps the focus on the specifics of the conflict and keeps us from going in hurtful directions.
Our kids know the security of the family isn’t threatened when Mommy and Daddy disagree.
(An important addendum is that we do not have disagreements in front of the children if it is about them — parenting, discipline, etc. We want to present a united front to them in that area.)
Pucker Up: Parents displaying affection in front of children can be a touchy subject – pun intended. I don’t think either extreme is healthy.
There is definitely a lot of area between “Get a room” and “They’re just roommates.”
As I was writing this, I decided to go straight to my sources. I asked our oldest daughter, 7, if she knows Mommy and Daddy love each other. She replied, “Yes, I know you love each other because you kiss and hug a lot, and Daddy makes you laugh.”
I asked our son, 5, if he knows Mommy and Daddy love each other and he said, “Yes, because you dance together in the kitchen.” Our 3-year-old just kept saying she wants to marry Daddy, so take that for what it’s worth.
We are not perfect parents and we’re not perfect spouses, but we are intentional and fully understand what’s at stake.
My husband and I want to show our kids what a real and loving covenant marriage looks like. But we don’t just want that kind of marriage for show; my husband and I want it for each other.
After all, our home is the Most Important Place on Earth — for us, too.
What do you do to let your kids know marriage is a top priority?