Raising children is one of the most rewarding experiences a couple can share. Two individuals coming together to love, train, discipline, educate, encourage and inspire a baby to mature into a functional and responsible adult. That is not an easy job and it can create a strain in marriage. Last week, I came across a story of a New Jersey teenager who is suing her parents requesting for financial support after she decided to leave her residence. I know you might think this is crazy. However, this is not the first time those parents have been to court. This is the first time they have come to a legal court, but this teenager has been taking her parents to court over the years -entitlement court, disrespectful court, no boundaries court guilty trip court, I can go and on. This is a sad and tragic story. A lot of fingers are pointing are the teenager and her parents. The media are asking; what happened? The first court date took place way before this teenage was 18. What can couples do be great parents and avoid going through a lifetime of legal battles in their own home?
Parent as a team. Is it possible?
Here are 7 tips that will help you to parent as a team and build a strong marriage.
Put the marriage first – You cannot be a great parent if your marriage is suffering. Poor marriage health leads to poor parenting. Making the children the center of life is a bad trend. I see who couples overbook their children’s schedule and they don’t have time for each other. Take care of yourself and take care of your marriage and you will help your children.
Be on the same parenting page – Know how you will address each of your children. Different situations do require different parenting tactics. For example, you might have two children, but your approach to correcting them is different. Communication about parenting style is a must if you want to be on the same page. If you are not on the same page, your children will be the puppeteers. You probably know who will be the puppets. Be on the same page about family rules, expectations, etc. When you are on the same parenting page, you don’t tear each other down. You don’t undermine your spouse’s parenting because you are trying to accomplish the same goal.
Establish clear boundaries – Children will follow boundaries that are clear, consistent and come from a place of love. As a child, there are family rules I knew that I was not willing to pay the consequences by breaking. Those were the rules that were clear and I know the consequences would be implemented. I did not like many of those rules. To be honest, some of those rules might have been a bit strict. However, I am grateful for the values those rules brought out of my character.
Know that you are raising a child to be a functional adult – I think as parent sometime it is easy to fall in the trap of protecting our children. In order for a child to become a responsible adult, he will have to experience growth. Growth takes place in teachable moments. Which means, at times, your children will fail and you have to let them face the consequences? The more you keep your children in a bubble, the more they are exposed to danger. It is in the teachable moments you can extend mercy and grace and train them to be better prepared. They will take a successful flight if you give them the chance to get trained by life.
Get educated – Read books that support your beliefs and values on parenting. Discuss them with your spouse. Devise a plan to implement what you are reading. You can create your own library of parenting books. Go to parenting conferences and seminars. Study the character of God toward Jesus. If you are going to win at parenting, you need to be equipped.
Get Support – Ultimately you and your spouse are responsible for parenting your children. However, you can get support from other couples and parents you admire. I have receive priceless and countless advice from couples who are doing a stellar job in parenting. You can invest in a parenting coach or a therapist. However, you can easily get parenting help over a cup of coffee or lunch from great parents that is your circle of influence.
Pray and pray – There is no perfect spouse and no perfect parent. You will make mistake. The best thing to do is apologize to your spouse. Apologize to your child. Pray for your children. Pray for your spouse. Pray for your own sanity. Your parenting will test your marriage, but parenting doesn’t have to take your marriage out.
The New Jersey teenager has returned home. However, this is a family that will need a lot of healing. The home life has been broken emotionally for a long time. Just going back home will not fix it. I will keep them in my prayers and hopefully they will get help to rebuild the family unit. You have a choice. You do not have to experience the pain of going to court with your children. The best gift you can give your children is being an excellent spouse and work together to raise them to be responsible adult.
Questions: What other tips can you share that have helped you to parent with your spouse?
Thank you for reading