If you desire to be a loving, biblical parent you must begin by being a loving, biblical spouse. Too often parents believe they can compensate for the deficiencies in their marriage by concentrating on loving their children. Not a good idea! Living primarily for your children leads to making idols of your children. This is a burden that no child can bear. In the long run, it will only turn your children against you. No one is blessed when this happens. Stability in the marriage relationship is what provides stability for the family, not the other way around. Here are at least three of the reasons why this is true.
First, marriage is designed to be permanent. Children are temporary inhabitants of the family. Parents are to raise their children to leave the home and start their own families. Husbands and wives are to be together for a lifetime. If the primary focus is given to the children, then what is temporary will receive more attention than what is primary and foundational. This weakens the marriage relationship as well as all the other family relationships.
Second, children undergo radical, rapid changes in their physical makeup and in their relational growth. In the space of just a few years they go from being totally dependent on others to being ready for independence with regard to life’s responsibilities. Thus, if life centers around the constant change of your children’s lives, stability will be replaced with turmoil and the marriage relationship will suffer. As children quickly progress from infants, to toddlers, to young children, to older children, to teenagers, to young men and women ready to begin their own lives, they need the stability of parents whose focus on maintaining their marriage first has not wavered.
Third, as special and wonderful as the parent-child relationship is, it is dramatically different than the unique one-flesh relationship between husband and wife. Parents who seek to complete themselves in their children will always be left incomplete and disappointed. A parent who lives primarily for his children will constantly be in a state of playing catch up. As the parent gets adjusted to one phase of a child’s life, that child has already moved on to the next. Children do not complete their parents.
If you want to love your children well, love your spouse first and foremost. As your children see you serving Christ as you serve your spouse they will know stability. It is important for children to know that they are not the most important people in the world. If they are to follow Christ they must seek to serve rather than be served.
Give your children the precious gift of loving your spouse as Christ as commanded you. This will provide strength and stability for your children and for your marriage. This will cause your marriage to be a testimony to the saving grace of Jesus Christ.