Kids are often the number one priority in families.
Constantly being afraid of not doing enough, worrying about making the wrong choice and comparing yourself to all the other amazing parents in the world can make you feel crazy. Let’s be honest, sometimes it can cause you to act crazy. In the world we live in, kids are often the number one priority. These precious people in your care should absolutely be important in your life. However, they cannot be number one.
Children need to be cared for. They need love and support. Kids need parents in their lives to help them navigate tough choices and hard relationship issues. They need to be well rounded and get to try different things. Children are precious and important, but they NEED to see that mom and dad are each other’s PRIORITY.
Being number one is not good for your kids. It is not good for your marriage. It is not good for you!
Putting Your Spouse Before Your Kids Can Feel Selfish
I focus on marriage counseling in my practice and see couples struggling with this all the time. Your kids will benefit from seeing mom and dad as a team. They feel more secure when they know you love each other. Kids are calmer and happier when they aren’t wondering if you’re going to split up or when the tension will end. They feel safe when they know they can’t pit mom against dad or dad against mom.
In most cases it would be better for your kids to see you support your spouse in a bad parenting decision than to see you disagree with your spouse in front of them. Yes, I said you don’t always have to stand up for your kids or protect them from a bad parenting choice. I am not saying never protect your kids. Of course, if there is abuse or something dangerous, yes protect your kids. But, if your spouse isn’t handling a situation the way you want them to or is disciplining in a way you disagree with, let it happen and discuss it behind closed doors later.
Your Spouse Needs To Be The Number One Person In Your Life
Your spouse needs to be your number one priority. It is important to make time to talk heart to heart about life, decisions and feelings.
Making time may look like sending the kids to their rooms earlier in the evening so you can have time to talk before you fall asleep watching your favorite show. This could also look like regular date nights that do not get canceled frequently because of the kid’s activities. Some couples set aside time right when they both get home in the evening. They might go to their bedroom for 30 min or send the kids out of the kitchen, while they debrief about the day. You have to find what works for you. You need to be flexible occasionally, but this needs to happen regularly.
Making your spouse a priority means considering their feelings before the kids. It may mean saying no to certain activities. It may mean compromising about some parenting decisions and continuing to discuss and evaluate when the kids are not in hearing.
A Healthy Relationship With Your Spouse Will Make Your Parenting Better
Often when I am working with couples I notice that when their relationship begins to heal, the parenting issues begin to resolve. When husband and wife feel cherished and supported by each other, many of the insecure feelings that cause the overwhelming emotions around parenting begin to fade.
There will always be emotion around decisions for your children. You want what’s best for them and parenting is hard! The feelings that fade are those that cause you to wonder if your spouse is really listening and thinks what you have to share is valuable. The nagging feeling that you are not important will not be there. These feelings can cloud parenting decisions.
When your relationship is in a good place and you are putting your spouse first, the decision can actually be about what is best for the child. Frustration with your spouse or insecurities in your marriage, won’t contaminate the parenting decisions. Creativity, compromise and problem solving happen a lot more frequently and easily when parents feel safe and secure in their relationship with each other.
Making your spouse a priority is important in every area of your life. They need to know that they come before your job, your parents, your friends and your hobbies. (Check out my video about navigating the holidays with your spouse.) Deciding that your spouse needs to come before your kids, can feel selfish, but it is actually in your kids best interest.
If you are struggling to navigate this or don’t even know where to start in repairing your marriage, please contact me. I would be honored to help you create a solid marriage as the foundation for your family.