I haven't been posting as much lately; I miss it! But, my nose has either been stuck in one of the three books I'm reading (Parenting by the Book, my fun, flirty fiction book, or the Bible), or I've been saving Jack from more black eyes!
But, I do want to share the latest idea in Parenting by the Book, which I've really been impacted by. If you're wondering what I'm talking about, click here.
So, Rosemond is talking about how when he teaches seminars, he asks the parents there how much time they spend in their role as "mom/dad" versus "husband/wife". He says moms usually reply, "I'm a "mom" 90% of the time and wife 10%." (Yep, I'd say I split my time the same way!)
Rosemond gives his ideas on this: "In their parenting, they are focused not on each other, but on their children who therefore occupy center stage in the family. Instead of being 'one flesh' with teach other, instead of putting their relationship center stage and keeping it there, they are preoccupied with the stuff of child-centeredness: paying more attention to the children than each other, talking more to the children than each other, more concerned about their relationship with their child than with each other, more concerned about entertaining their children instead of refreshing their marriage, and so on."
This is not what God intends for us! He placed the relationship of husband and wife above all else. It's why a "man will leave his family and become one with his wife" and so on. (Genesis 2:24) We're intended to marry and then have children. God intends for us to be one flesh, being devoted to each other, faithful to each other. No other relationship should come before the relationship with our spouse.
When reading this, I had to pause here and do my own little "reality-check," and it wasn't pretty. I run around all day constantly thinking about how my every action and thought impact Jack and Lucy. Quite honestly, until Jason gets home, my thoughts may wander his way during the day, but they quickly jump back to the two little people in this house. And sometimes when Jason gets home, I'll be in the middle of making dinner, and so after a very quick peck on the lips, I'll shovel the kids off to him and say something like, "Pleeeeaase, could I just have 10 minutes alone" or "let me cook dinner alone." He goes off to play with the kids, I'll call when dinner is ready, we do eat together every night (which is a great time for us as a family), but as soon as the last bite is eaten, one of us takes the kids to the playroom or somewhere else while the other person cleans up, and then we enter into the time of the day affectionately called, "Let's entertain the kids until bedtime." All four of us may play on the floor in the den, read stories, play hide and seek, what have you. (And I'm not saying this is bad!). But the point is that Jason and I HARDLY ever connected with each other until after Jack and Lucy had been put down for bed. And even then, some nights, I might retreat to scrapbook and Jason to the computer to do coding or whatever you brilliant engineers do with your free time :-). So, it very well could be 10pm before we fall into bed, say a few words to each other about our days, kiss goodnight, and that's it!
Not good, not good at all!
Here are some consequences Rosemond lays out that could affect our family as well as any "Child-Centered Family":
1. The children lack a model of what being married truly is all about.
2. The children develop a sense of entitlement as regards the disproportionate amount of attention and material things they receive from their parents.
3. Because the parents are more concerned with having a relationship than providing leadership with their children, the children do not receive adequate discipline.
and 4. When the normal time for emancipation rolls around, the children do not have permission to leave home.
Really, think about it. Can you relate to this scenario as I realized I could? In several ways I can...Our family revolves around our kids (and I do want to point out, this only comes from letting the indescribable love that we have for them lead us in our actions...it's not like Jason and I are using the kids as an escape...It just kind of happens that when you have kids, they become your life. It's all you hear about when you're pregnant. "Your life will never be the same" kind of stuff). One of my brothers, who is 24, pops in and out of living at home. And although I realize Lucy is a young toddler, who will naturally act in toddler-ish ways, but she certainly has shown times where she feels she entitled to getting what she wants, the very second she wants it. She's never heard, "Mommy and Daddy are doing something, you'll just have to wait."
So, we've made some changes in our house. I don't want to wake up at 50 when my kids have "flown the nest" and realize I don't really know or love my husband anymore because I've been obsessed with my kids for the past two decades. (And think about this...consider how much higher the divorce rate is in our country since the 60's...).
So, we've implemented some small changes that I think will actually make a big difference. The biggest new routine we've started is that as soon as we've all eaten dinner together, we tell Lucy and Jack that it's time for them to play in the playroom together. They go in there, we shut the gate, confining them to that room. Jason and I clean up dinner together, chatting about our day, and then - my favorite part - we plop down on the couch, snuggle up, and spend about 30 minutes together, talking and just focusing on each other. It's great!
And you know what, it's great for Jack and Lucy too...We'll hear them from where we are, playing with each other, pretend cooking together (Lucy: "Jack, you cook the eggs! I'll do the peas!" :-), and I really love when Lucy reads stories to Jack. They're improving their independent play skills, and we're improving our marriage. It's a win-win.
So many, many great ideas in this book. I can't wait to see what's hidden in the next chapter. It's really common-sense ideas that he presents, but somehow in the hustle and bustle of this crazy, modern life, it's easy to miss what's important. Like John Tanner said in last week's sermon, we focus on the urgent, not the important. Live deliberately and focus on what's truly important, what's lasting! That's how I'm trying to live.