How can children succeed in life if they don’t see you succeed? That’s a question every parent needs to ask—especially as it relates to their marriage. Raising great children is much more likely if you have also built a healthy marriage.
Here are three principles I believe can lead to success as you raise your kids:
First, your marriage should precede your children in priority. Have you ever heard a married person say, “Nothing is more important to me than my children?”
I hear people say that pretty often, and I think these parents—though well-meaning—need to shift the order of their priorities. Your first priority is God. Period. Your second priority should be your marriage. Your children come third.
Happiness and security in a marriage are essential for raising healthy, responsible children. When your child sees that you are happy and secure, it makes him or her happy and secure.
Why? Because children see everything. They pick up tension in your relationship, even if you’re not fighting in front of them. They internalize that tension, which can damage their physical health and their psychological well-being. Get your marriage on track first.
Secondly, you have to be unified in parenting. Jesus said a house divided against itself can’t stand, which means you and your spouse must present a united front in raising your kids. You don’t have to agree on everything, but don’t disagree in front of the kids. Dad can’t say one thing while Mom says another.
This means you must discipline in the same ways. You both need to show the same amount of affection and concern. And should you reach an impasse on decision-making or parenting styles, don’t hesitate to go outside your marriage to get help.
Karen and I did that with a certain parenting issue—we encountered a problem we couldn’t solve on our own—and the outside help was absolutely critical to the success of our marriage.
Finally, understand that parenting requires faith. This means faithfulness to God and trusting His promises.
Proverbs 22:6 tells parents, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” This is a powerful promise. God says that if we “train up” our children correctly, when they are mature they won’t depart from the way we have trained them.
We have to trust Him that this will be true. We also have to know that training doesn’t mean talking. It means showing. We train our children by the way we live our lives. It’s the full process of transferring values, character, spirituality, and purpose. You can’t talk your way through this process. You have to live it.
Our children learn to respond to certain situations, to deal with pressure, to love their spouses by watching us.
Prioritize your marriage. Present a united front. Train up your children by doing the right thing, and trust God that they will follow your example. You may encounter challenges along the way, but that’s how you raise successful kids.