The best thing parents can do for their kids is to love each other.
Recently, my wife, Mary, and I were in my doctor’s waiting room, where she found an old copy of Time magazine (May 20, 2019). Leafing through it, she came across an article with a very large headline, “LOVE YOUR SPOUSE MORE.” After reading it, she handed it to me, and said, “Read this. I know you’ll love it.”
It began: “Parent’s love for their children can make them do peculiar things. Like staying up until 1 a.m. gluing glitter on a second-grade class project. Or driving 40 miles to deliver a single soccer cleat. Or, perhaps, bribing their teenagers’ way into a fancy college. But one of the weirdest things parents do is love their children more than their partners.”
“Yes,” I all but shouted to my wife, sitting next to me. “I finally found something in Time that I agree with!”
“Remember Mr. Friday?” I asked. “He had a bumper sticker that said, ‘The best thing a man can do for his kids is to love their mother.’”
“Yes,” Mary replied. “And that was way back in the early 1970s.”
We talked a bit about how the Fridays were way ahead of the article, and I returned to the magazine.
It went on to tell of research that showed that kids who grow up in a home with parents who show they love each other are much happier and more secure than those who grow up in a loveless home. They see how their parents treat each other and mimic that behavior with people they know. Guess what: Kids who see their parents fighting and screaming at each other scream and fight at school; the opposite is also true. How often have we heard a mother say, “He’s a good kid, but he has his dad’s temper,” or “She’s as sweet and kind as her mother!”
Too often parents become so involved in their kids’ lives that they “forget” about their spouses. And after spending 25 to 30 years living for their kids, the parents become strangers to each other. Over the years, many couples have told me just that: They were very happy together until the kids came.
The authors noted, “That by the age of 50–55, [the parents] can’t go to a restaurant and have a conversation.” So true. Far too many times, Mary and I have been at a restaurant and watched couples at tables next to us spend the whole evening and never say a word.
What a shame! Yes, it’s important to have dinner with your whole family, but make sure you have at least one date night every week—without the kids.
During our many years of marriage, Mary frequently reminded me, “The kids came to live with us, not the other way around. Think about it: They came to live with us for 18 years, then leave. We married each other to live with until ‘Death do us part.’ The kids need to know that, and adjust.”
Marriage lesson for the day: Don’t stop loving, don’t stop sharing, don’t stop talking, and you will make the empty nest years more fun, and maybe, just maybe, make them the best years of your life!
Having said all that, let me ask, how is your “Have more fun with your family” effort coming?
Many of us had a great snowfall last week. Did you and your kids take advantage of the snowy hills in your neighborhood? Were you able to play some board games after dinner with the kids? Dig out the Monopoly game for your older ones, and play “Old Maid,” “Memory,” or “Chutes and Ladders” with the younger set? If you did, you know they love you for it!
Remember: one night a week as a couple to assure your retirement years are filled with happiness and six nights each week with your kids to help them become the best version of themselves.
Enjoy your kids and your spouse, and may God continue to bless you and your family!