Hello, hello! Today we’re talking lessons in parenting from the child, and the topic of the day is relationships. That’s right – it’s vital that you model your relationships for your children. One of the best things about relationship building with a child is that you can model what values you think are most important for your little one, right?
So I want to share a little about my parents and their relationship with you. But let me first start with a bit of an introduction of my parents.
Meet My Mom
My mom is Rosemary, and she is one of the best people I know. As an adult, I proudly call her my best friend. As a child, she was my mama, and I knew even when I was little just how special she was.
My mom worked as a labor and delivery nurse most of my childhood and early adolescence. I remember going to work with her on occasion when it was going to be a stormy night and even spending the night in the hospital a few times during bad winter weather. Mom left the nurse on desk duty take care of me during the times she was in labor, and I spent a good amount of time rolling around on desk chairs down empty hospital halls. It sounds silly, but I loved racing around the floors. Back then, of course, it was a little different than the regulations of today’s hospitals.
Mom talked to me frankly and honestly about things like sex (hello – labor and delivery nurse!), marriage and relationships, friendships, faith, and everything in between. We experienced our rough patches, like my early adolescence when I pushed every button every time and tried her patience like crazy. But we became friends, and I always respect her opinion and ask her advice.
Meet My Dad
My dad is Stephen. He’s your typical engineer, and those of you married to or family of engineers will know what I mean when I say that. Dad is quiet and thoughtful, full of wisdom and excellent advice. His experience includes being an electrical engineer and a manager in a utilities company.
When I was a little girl, the men at church called my dad an instigator. My parents explained what they meant by this, and I found it ridiculously wonderful. I mean, I seriously admired my dad for his people skills and leadership abilities. He really helped shape my ideals about relationships and what I wanted in a career, despite the fact I’m not currently pursuing any of the careers I dreamed of as a child.
Dad taught me to drive (though it was my mom who experienced sheer terror at my practicing) and gave me advice through high school that has stuck with me. He shared his open and honest opinions with me and modeled his faith through daily Bible study. I love him deeply and still go to him with requests for daddy-daughter dates even though I’m 30 now!
The Lesson: Modeling Your Relationships
My parents modeled relationship priorities for me as a child and teenager in ways that were very visible. I learned firsthand what the priority was for both my parents, and it struck me then and now as the Biblical, healthy priority to keep.
Want to know the secret priority?
Here’s the secret relationship priority I want to model for my children:
- God first.
- Spouse second.
- Children third.
Simple, right? It sounds simple, and I know a good deal of people who model similar priorities. But I learned it first by watching my parents and how they interacted. I want to share the ways they modeled these priorities and why I think that modeling them in front of me as a child helped shape my own priorities. I’m not great at doing these things all the time, but they are important to me.My secret relationship priority? God first. Spouse second. Child third. Click To Tweet
Modeling a Relationship with God
Faith is a huge part of life. What you believe in matters, and children should see where your faith is. I think one of the big things my parents did that helped show me their faith in God and relationship with Jesus was making sure to take me to church every Sunday.
My mom tells me I went to church two weeks after I was born and just kept going from then on. I attended church on Sunday mornings and evenings and on Wednesday nights. We were that family, you know, the one there when the church doors are open? I even attended private Christian school during my middle school years.
But going to church doesn’t mean you have a relationship. I saw my parents live out their relationship with Jesus in different ways. I remember seeing my dad get up early in the mornings to read his Bible. I walked downstairs to see him sitting in a chair with his Bible on his lap as he did his morning devotions. My mom did hers when she had time since she often had an early shift at the hospital. But I found her Bible lying around open many times where she’d left it from the day before.
I know my parents wanted me to have that same close relationship with God, and they answered all my questions about faith and God as best they could. Because they were so open with their own relationships with God, I felt encouraged to explore my own faith and how it could look in my life. I want to do the same thing for my son and any future children I have. I want them to see me actively reading Scripture and praying. I want them to understand that a relationship with God should be the first priority they give time and energy to.
Right now I don’t do a great job at that. But I hope to continue to grow my own faith and be more active in our church. One day my children will be able to look back and see how my faith truly was prioritized.Your children should know a relationship with God needs to be their first priority. Click To Tweet
Modeling a Marriage Relationship
Marriage is a huge relationship commitment. I oftentimes see people bring up having a child as a huge relationship commitment, which it is. But to me, marriage really brings up bigger challenges because, in theory, it lasts a lifetime. I believe in marriage for life, and I also believe divorce goes against my faith. Therefore when I agreed to marry Daniel, I did it with the understanding this was the only marriage I would ever have.
I learned that marriage wasn’t just a romantic relationship but a sacred covenant. And I learned that by watching my parents. When I was little, my parents left me with my grandparents over the weekend so they could get away to a mountain cabin. They planned this trip out every year, and they used it as a mini getaway and romantic trip. It revolved around Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, and I loved getting to spend my weekend with my grandparents. It wasn’t till I was older that I learned why my parents wanted to get away for a special weekend of their own.
Another way they modeled their relationship priorities came when I was an older teen. I struggled with the rebellious teen years like others did, but I mostly tried to avoid doing any chores or work around the house. My mom got sick one year with dad trying to take care of her. I can’t remember exactly what happened, but I refused to do dishes or some other kitchen chore, and he put me in my place very quickly. He essentially told me that when mom was sick he would be spending his time taking care of her and that I could get behind that or else we would tangle.
Now my father never spoke harshly to me, but this moment was when I realized that he prioritized my mom, her health, and his relationship with her over his relationship with me. And I think that’s actually a very healthy prioritization. He made it clear that his marriage came first, and even as his daughter whom he loved very much, I would not usurp that priority.
I want my children to understand that my marriage to their father is an important priority. I hope to model that relationship for them so they understand just how sacred a marriage relationship is and they seek the same kind of priority in their own spouses someday.Do your children understand that your marriage is an important priority in your life? Click To Tweet
Modeling a Parenting Relationship
I mentioned earlier that my dad made it clear I would not usurp the position my mom held. I remember going back to my room that night and really pondering the feelings I had as I pieced that apart. When I realized how much he cared about my mom, I wasn’t angry, but I was actually really happy because it showed that he cared a lot about me, too.
One big thing having a solid marriage does for a child is to set up a firm foundation. If a child sees his parents loving each other openly, I think it sets the stage for him to feel more open with his own emotions. This creates security for a child because he sees the relationship his parents have and sees how they respond to him in love and knows that the family is a strong unit.A solid marriage sets up a firm foundation for children and gives them security. Click To Tweet
I always knew I was loved. Period. My parents made me certain that I was loved and cared for, even when we didn’t have much to give or share. I grew up in a home where I was loved but wasn’t coddled or overly spoiled. I never felt that I was the center of the world because my parents made sure I knew where their priorities lay first and foremost. And that made all the difference for me.
So What’s Next?
This lesson really helped me when I talked to Daniel about getting married. We dated for a few months after knowing each other for years, and one of our big conversations was about commitment. We agreed that our relationships with God were the most important thing and that we wanted to make sure to work on our marriage and maintain it because of how important it was to each of us.
And then we got pregnant. We suddenly needed to discuss this new family member and our relationship with him. We agreed that our marriage needed to stay our priority and that we would work hard to keep the priorities set in our lives: God, spouse, child(ren).
So as we go forward, we try to make it a habit to get to church (or watch it online when we can’t get there), keep in the Word, take care of each other with dates and little special moments, and make sure our baby boy has everything he needs and all the affection and love we can give him.
This lesson my parents taught me is perhaps the most important one I learned growing up. I’m so glad they made these priorities in their lives, and I hope my children will be able to say the same about me and Daniel someday. What about you? What are your priorities for your relationship? Share with me in the comments! And be looking forward to the next big post coming your way, yet another in my parenting lessons series! If you liked this post, please share it with your friends.
P.S. This was lesson number 2! Have you read the first one in this series? If not, go check it out! You can find it here!
P.P.S. Did you miss the Ultimate Photography Bundles post I made? There’s a flash sale going on, and you can find some great products here if you hurry!