Do You Know What Your Children Are Watching?
And I am not talking about television or the internet.
If you are married and have children, remember your kids are watching YOU. Be aware there are more people in this marriage than just the two of you!
At our live marriage conference, I often remind people that children grow up really quickly and then stand in our book signing line saying, “This is what was happening in our home and my parents need to hear this message.”
Their concern and anxiety over their parents’ fighting or indifference to one another is heart-wrenching. They ask us how they can get their parents to read the Love & Respect book or come to a conference.
Making a Difference
Sometimes our children are very “adult-like” when it comes to relationships. Listen to this 4 year old who also longs for his parents to get along:
After his parents had been to a Love and Respect event as a last attempt to save their marriage, they began reading our devotional, The Love and Respect Experience. After “watching them” one day he said to his daddy, “When I have a wife, I want to read that book with her just like you do with Mommy!”
His mom told us that previously he would get very upset when they argued. Now, when he senses even a little tension he tells them, “Go read the book!”
Are you paying attention to how your behavior affects your little ones? How about your teenagers? Could the increased tension you sense from them be a result of the tension they feel between you and your spouse?
From Pain Came a Purpose
Emerson and I understand this from the kids’ point of view, because we both grew up in homes where there was much tension.
Emerson has painful memories as young as two years old. He cried himself to sleep many nights. He shares how he would have been beside himself with joy if his parents had tried to work on their marriage during those tumultuous years.
My parents divorced when I was 4. I vividly remember the day my daddy came to me and said he would no longer be living with us. It is my first recollection of sadness.
This is why Emerson and I do what we do!
We Are Going to Make This Our Project
Recently, while in the country of Slovenia, a pastor from a local church relayed a story that warmed our hearts. A teenaged brother and sister, who were new Christ-followers, were concerned for their parents who were having some difficult struggles. When they heard about the Love & Respect conference, they bought their parents tickets and “dragged them there.” Afterwards, their parents said “This night changed our lives. We are going to make this our project: to go through the Love & Respect book together!”
Their teenagers were ecstatic! But what got them most excited was when their parents kissed – something they had not seen them do in a very long time.
Our daughter Joy told us that when she was living at home she loved watching us dance around the kitchen (and I am a horrible dancer). She adds, “Isn’t there research on kids feeling safer when their parents are affectionate? If not, I still think it’s definitely true. You can quote me as the on-the-spot researcher.”
Yes, parents…no matter the age, your kids are watching. They may be watching the television or on the computer, but they are also listening to your conversations in the other room, whether positive or negative. They are not indifferent to your marriage.
Questions for reflection:
- What kind of an example is your marriage? What grade would your kids give you?
- What can you do – today – to change what your children are watching?
Let’s evaluate often what our children “see” in us. Hopefully they will want to follow our example when they are parenting someday!
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