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  Children's Ministry Today    
 

Today's Featured Article

Good Marriage, Good Kids
                  Norman Wright

 

If a mother and father are really satisfied with their marriage and are giving to one another, they have a lot to give to their children. Children can sense if their par­ents really love each other. They can see them caring for each other, encouraging each other, building up each other. They can rest comfortably in the security of knowing their parents' marriage is strong.

Children have a very fine set of anten­nas sticking out. They can pick up disruption in a marital relationship. They know when Mommy or Daddy is unhap­py. They know when there is bickering, even if the parents go into another room to fight. They are sensitive, and they pick up discord.

When children are positive their par­ents love each other and love them, they have a greater opportunity to meet their own potential, because they are not dis­tracted by worries about what is going on at home. What kind of marriage, then, is good for nurturing children?

I think a number of elements are needed both for the marriage and for the children.

  1. In a healthy marriage, both the spouses are free to be who they are. Neither one is dominated by the other, and both feel secure because of the oth­er's support. Both have the opportunity to be themselves; both can develop their own unique qualities.

  2. In my counseling practice, I often see marriages where one person tries to dominate the other. The children pick that up quickly and tend to join the stron­ger spouse in exploiting the weaker. This is bad for the children as well as for the marriage.

  3. Both the husband and the wife have learned to express their feelings and emotions, and thus are free to com­municate deeply and openly with each other. In doing this, they set a good mod­el of communication for their children.

  4. Time is allotted for nurturing the marriage. The spouses do not make their time together the last item on the agenda. Instead, they schedule time to be together--just the two of them. The children observe this and see that the marriage relationship is really important to their parents.

  5. There is a healthy expression of sexuality. The children are aware of the fact that the mother and father are sexual beings. They see their parents treating each other with love and affection, and they know their parents can talk about sexuality without embarrassment or dis­gust. The children know they can ask specific questions about sex and get an honest answer from either parent.

  6. The husband and wife encourage each other. They don't compete with or put down each other, but rather stand behind each other and give support. The children will catch this attitude and use it with their own spouses--if not always with their siblings!

  7. The spouses are able to express differences of opinion and resolve the issues. They are able to solve problems and deal with conflict in a healthy way. This shows the children the difference between disagreeing and behaving disagreeably.

  8. Another factor, often left out of today’s­ marriages, is that the husband and wife are spiritually united. A family is strengthened when the parents share a strong faith in God. It is good for the parents to share spiritual truths with the children, as long as they can do it with­out preaching. It is healthy for children to see their parents praying, both individ­ually and together.

No marriage is perfect, of course, just as no individuals are perfect. That doesn't mean we should give up, howev­er, and settle for less than our best. I would rather keep holding out realistic ideals for people to work toward.

Parents don't need to pretend to be perfect. They can be open with their chil­dren and say, "Look, we haven't arrived and we never will arrive, but here's some­thing we've learned along the way."

It's good for parents to admit to their children that they have made mistakes in their marriage relationship and in their parenting. The children know this any­way, but it helps for them to hear their parents say it. Then the parents can add, "But we're trying to correct our mistakes, and we're continuing to grow in our mar­riage relationship."

By saying this, parents are giving their children a model of growth, not perfec­tion--and a growing marriage is a good environment for growing kids.

  
 
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