We’ve all heard the advice that one of the best gifts we can give our kids is a great relationship between ourselves and our spouse. But how? Is there a guide to doing that?
As a matter of fact, there is – Ephesians 5. Here are five how-tos from Paul’s chapter on love and marriage.
1. Be a team. (vss. 21-28) Most of the chapter talks about the “team” aspect of the family. No, Paul doesn’t use the word “team,” but he does relate the authority structure. Dad’s the head, but Mom’s right up there, too. The parents (not the kids) are in charge.
Being a team also means that couples shouldn’t undermind each other. “Joe, I think Emma SHOULD be allowed to go to the party” or “Connie, I can’t believe you’re letting YOUR daughter go out in that shirt.” Disagreements need to be discussed in private, not in front of your children. Parents need to have a united front when making decisions about their kids.
That also means that your children shouldn’t be allowed to play you against each other. Andrew might not like the answer Dad gave him, but that doesn’t mean he can go to Mom and attempt to get a different answer.
2. Be all about love and respect. (vs. 33) Parents shouldn’t call each other nasty names, slam doors or threaten each other. Kids do not need to hear things like, “I shouldn’t have married you” or “Why don’t you pay attention to me like Joe does to Amelia?”
What kids should hear is “Mom’s not feeling good today. Let’s all help her out. Jenna, please set the table and Collin, please put the rolls in the oven.”
Or, “You guys have the best mom/dad in the world. I thank the Lord for bringing us together. I love her/him so much.”
3. Be pure. (vs. 3-4) Ah, this is a good one in today’s world. Kids don’t need to hear their parents talking about the “hot guy” on TV or saying something off-color about a member of the opposite sex. Parents need to respect each other and do everything possible to uphold that respect.
4. Be together. (vs. 31) A husband is to leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife. If Dad and Mom are both working eighty hours a week and spending the rest of their waking hours in front of the tv or computer, they aren’t joined together. Parents need to take time to go out on “dates” even if it’s a walk down the nearby hiking trail or dinner at the local fast food restaurant. They need time to say more to each other than “Could you pick Janie up from school today?” or “For the 97th time, I’m telling you the faucet is dripping.”
Kids need to see dad and mom enjoy each other, whether it’s playing a game of `tennis, searching antique stores for a just-right table for the front hallway or `working together to cook their killer lasagna for the family.
Kids also need to see their parents do ministry together. This could be teaching a Bible study or inviting a visiting missionary to dinner.
Your children need to understand that you are each other’s best friend.
5. Be thankful. (vs. 20).
Children need to hear Dad compliment Mom on her cooking (or the other way around.) Children need to hear parents thank each other for their contribution to the family.
Sometimes kids need to hear Dad and Mom say how thankful they are in general for their spouse, their children and their home.
Seeing parents love each other will help children and teens feel loved and secure themselves. That love and respect for their parents includes respect for what their parents say and what they believe. That security gives them confidence as they face the world.
When parents love and respect each other, home becomes a safe place in the eyes of the kids.
A big thank you to Paul for giving us FIVE in FIVE.