Should children be parents’ number one priority?
It almost sounds heretical to suggest otherwise. Of course, the nurture and guidance of our children is a very important responsibility of any parent. Deuteronomy 6 states that our number one responsibility is to love God with all our heart, soul and strength. Then we are to teach that “diligently” to our children. But this command should not be interpreted to mean that our children are our second highest priority after loving God. What it says is that teaching them to love God should be second only to our own love for the Lord. One of the best ways to teach them this is by having all other relationships in proper priority. When our world revolves around our children we are teaching them that they are our number one priority.
In speaking of marriage, John Rosemond puts it this way. “After they begin having children, for them to be one flesh means–listen up!–no other relationship or enterprise of any sort should come before their relationship with each other. In other words, being one flesh with children means the same thing as it does without children. The relationship a husband and wife have with their children should not, must not, come before their relationship with each other, and the enterprise of being parents (parenting) should not, must not, come before the enterprise of being married.” (Parenting by the Book, Copyright 2007, John Rosemond, Page 117-118).
I think it is important to note that there are stages in parenting and that some stages may require more time and effort than other stages. Certainly young children necessitate a lot more of our attention than college students. But the point is not to limit the time we give to our children as much as to limit the priority. As parents, we should not find our fulfillment and purpose in our children. Demonstrating love and commitment to our spouse is the best example to our children of the commitment God is asking of them. In fulfilling our parental responsibility we shouldn’t neglect the commitment we have made to our spouse.
Here are some suggestions for maintaining the priority of marriage in parenting:
- Learn to say no. Your family cannot be involved in every “good” activity that comes along. This includes saying “No” to your children as well. You can’t do everything they want to do. Prioritize what you will give your time to.
- Sit down with your spouse to plan your calendar and maintain control of your schedule. Schedule quality time with your spouse on a weekly basis. You schedule other things that are important. Don’t neglect your spouse.
- Share the responsibilities of parenting. For example, Dad can help with the bedtime routine to give mom a few minutes for herself.
“For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one.” (Genesis 2:24)
Some content taken from Parenting by The Book by John Rosemond. Copyright © 2007, Howard Books.