{Ministry Mom} They are watching [and listening].

Written by: Mandy Hill

Recently, I read an article published in the ‘Thriving Family’ magazine that is distributed by ‘Focus on the Family’ titled “Our Kids Are Watching: Four lessons I’m glad my daughter is learning from my marriage….and two I wish she wasn’t.” It spoke directly into my heart and I would like to share some thoughts from the author, Sarah Hilgendorf’s, wise and truth-filled message.

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I have three sons and one daughter, and it is absolutely the heart prayer of my husband and I to watch these four wonderful little people grow up to live lives committed to the person Christ intends for them; in marriages that are Christ-centered and God-honouring!

In her article, Sarah shares four things that she is glad her daughter is learning for her marriage.

#1. Disagreement is Ok- even productive. Disrespect is not.
My husband and I don’t always agree with each other. In fact, sometimes we wholeheartedly dis-agree with each other. This is ok; this is normal. We are still human beings. It is healthy for our children to see us disagree respectfully and peaceably. I love Sarah’s tips on handling conflict in this section. She says: “We let [our daughter] witness conflict to send the message that conflict is normal–it means that both people are human. What helps?
A) Don’t let your child pick a side.
B) Stay out of kid earshot when disagreements involve money, parenting of sex.
C) Avoid moralizing arguments that have nothing to do with morality. (Kids see in black and white, so help them recognize that not every disagreement stems from right vs. wrong.)
D) Don’t let your child equate resolution with one particular parent always getting his or her own way. You wouldn’t want to send a message that one of you is a pushover and the other a bully, right?”

#2. We all make mistakes and need forgiveness.
Oh boy, do I make mistakes. Even worse I am s-t-u-b-b-o-r-n. I know it. Trying to work on that. But I often find myself asking for forgiveness for things I have said in the moment or impulsively rather than speaking rationally and with grace. It’s good for our children to see that Mommy and Daddy make mistakes; but more importantly that we are able to both give and receive forgiveness.
Once forgiveness has been had, it’s important to then carry on. Dwelling on the mistakes of your spouse (or even your own) sends a hollow message to our children about apologies and forgiveness.

#3. Commitment means being there for each other, even when you’d rather be somewhere else.
Think about it; problems happen. Difficulties arise. The choice on how we handle these problems is really up to us. Do we as a married couple attempt to solve these problems together? Or do run off yelling over our shoulder ‘it’s your turn to deal with this problem, honey! I got the last one.”
I love Sarah’s tip for this one: “Record keeping makes being there for each other look more like indebtedness than commitment.”

#4. Marriage is worth pursuing!
I’ve written whole posts on this before. Date your husband. Just because you are married, doesn’t mean you have to relocate your relationship to gloomsville. Marriage is absolutely worth pursuing, nurturing and growing! Intentionally set aside time each week just for you and your spouse. Your kids notice your priorities; make sure your spouse is a big one.
(*Please don’t use the excuse that you are “too busy” to date your spouse. If it’s important to you to spend time with your spouse, you will make time. You don’t even have to go OUT on a date. Stay in, and after the kids are tucked in bed, cuddle up on the couch, put on a movie and share some popcorn! Just make time; you won’t regret it.)

Next week I will share with you the two things Sarah wishes her daughter WASN’T learning from her marriage.

Remember Mom, those little eyes and ears are storing up sights and sounds from your life every single day. What sort of things are you filling them up with?

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Father God, thank You for wisdom and truth. Thank You for the gentle reminder to nurture our marriages not only because we desire to have good marriages, but we desire to raise up a generation that honours the marriage relationship as well. I pray for the little eyes and the little ears in our homes; Jesus please let them see You in our love for one another. Please also cast away any attempts from the enemy to destroy our marriages. I pray this in Your name, Jesus, Amen.

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