Married. With children. First comes love. Then comes marriage. And if you're like us, there's four baby carriages that quickly bombard your home, an your life, and said marriage relationship. An if you're also like us, or any other human couple who spends longer than about 5 minutes together, chances are you've had a fight. Or two. Or ten. Or ten-hundred. It's a thing of beauty really. You're learning to cooperate, to compromise, and communicate with another complex being. One who is probably nothing like you, which makes the task that much more daunting. But I wanted to touch on the subject of marriage as it pertains to parenting. Why? Because I find myself in the throws of needing reminded myself. The topic of marriage is taboo anymore. Don't get me wrong, people are doing it. But they have lost sight of the real institution of marriage. Marriage between one man, and one woman. I find it interesting and yet disturbing that my three and four year olds ask about "marriage" often. The don't have a handle on the concept as a whole. But they know a few basic principles: - we don't marry our family. -we marry to make one mommy and one daddy. -you get married and THEN you have babies. -you get married when you love each other. -when you're married, you kiss. While those aren't the statutes that outline marriage in most legal documents, they are a pretty good description of marriage, in a biblical sense. But recently, they've been asking if you can have two mommies. Or two daddies. Or if a girl could marry a girl. Our response? God says just one mommy and one daddy. Just like I'm your one mommy, and your dad is your one daddy. It comes down to the example, an their tiny minds compute the example into reality, and accept it. We have Friends who have "step" children. And my girls cannot quite understand how this process works. But for now- at four and three- it doesn't have to. I want to take this opportunity to say, that stressing the importance of God-given marital boundaries, is critical from the beginning. The minute you entertain the idea of something else, is the minute you allow the enemy to plant a see in your child's mind about hat marriage really should, could, and will one day look like. If you see questions or confusion arising from a depiction of "marriage" on tv, at the park, in another family....take the time to immediately address it. Rather address it now with small words, than have to explain it away with big ones later. Another thing my kids see about our marriage here at the Curzio house, an we say it often, is that Paco and I are on the same team. This helps when they ask one of us for a priveledge, and that parent says "no", so they UNDERMINE the parent and ask the other. I emphasize that word because while it may be funny or "cute" at 2, 3, 4, it will NOT be cute at 10. In fact the bible is clear that manipulation is witchcraft. That seems harsh, but it's the word of God, and I can't argue with it. Emphasize the team of your family with your family. But the head of that team is mom and dad. This is hard for some parents, especially in our society, that says the child needs to be able to "express" themselves. But remember that mom and dad were the family unit BEFORE little tommy entered the world. And they will continue to be a family into AFTER he leaves home as well. We can see a picture of this in genesis 1, when God creates the first "family". He doesn't say "it is good" when the man is alone. But he does say "it is good" once he has a wife. Notice God didn't add 2.5 children, a cat, and a goldfish to complete the goodness. Certainly, children are a blessing, and we are told to "be fruitful and multiply". But god created the perfect family unit, with a male/female, husband/wife model. Sometimes this can be difficult. Being on a team with my spouse can be a challenge at times. Like many of you know, there are ups and downs with marriage. Good times and bad times. But it is critical for us as parents to be "on a team". Because our kids are watching. When they see us fight and holler and disrespect each other, they learn to treat people they care about the same negative ways. When they wake up to find a parent sleeping on the couch for the night, it teaches them that running out when things are hard, is easier. Well of course it is! Make the time to make-up with your spouse when conflict arrises-because it inevitably will- but also make a point to make-up with your children who watch from a distance all that goes on. The most important thing a father can do for his child, is to love the child's mother. And the same goes for moms. We cannot expect our children to trust us, or to view us as role-models if we cut apart and tear down one or both of the people they see as "super-human". Every time you degrade your spouse, not only are you degrading yourself, but you're picking at who your children are. Be on the same team as your spouse. Model forgiveness. I can't tell you how much I forgiveness runs abounding in church. And the perfect place to teach, model, disciple people to forgive, is in your home. You give them the tools to be Christ to others, by modeling the behaviors in your marriage. I know this can be hard. There are days when my husband doesn't communicate clearly. Days when he has said something that's hurt me deeply. Days when he leaves a mess through the house that I spent hours tidying before he came home from work. There are moments when he annoys me, and makes me want to leave. But of all these things I am not innocent. There are days I've bagged and whined. Days I've spent money, shopping for frivolous things when he worked hard for the money. Days when I've promised to complete a task and never got around to it, because I chose my own interest over his. Days when I've been short and moody for no reason at all. That is marriage. It's loving someone beyond their crap. And I've learned from the best: God SO loved me that He gave His only son, so that I wouldn't die, but have life with Him forever. Before I knew Paco even for a day, I had nagged and dissappointed, let down, and betrayed a holy god. And yet He showed me forgiveness, love, grace and mercy. And that is the example to follow. Teach your children how to love others by modeling it with your spouse. If you value someone, you spend uninterrupted quality time with them. You listen to them. You do nice things for them. You speak well of them, even when they aren't around. Show your kids how to do this. Because one day, they will be grown, and married themselves. And their future spies will thank you for giving them the tools needed to love and appreciate them. And once they've gone, your marriage will have stood the test of time, and will still be burning strong.
Bri is the mom to four little people, the wife to a gentle giant, and a lover of Jesus. She's figuring out the best ways to parent by trial and error, and sharing her struggles, successes, and stories with you!