Skip to content

Parenting

8 Things Your Kids Should See You and Your Spouse Doing Together

kissing couple with kid


Modeling a healthy marriage is a vital part of parenting. Showing your children how to negotiate a marriage relationship is your primary responsibility. Well, feeding them is pretty important too, but teaching them healthy relationships is definitely toward the top of the responsible parenting list.

To model healthy relationships make sure your kids can see you:

Spending time together.

Life is hectic especially with kids. Time together is at a premium and it’s tempting to save it for after you put the kids to bed. However, demonstrating you like to spend time together shows your children quality time matters in relationships.

Talking.

Good relationships utilize good communication. If your kids only see you taking to your phone they won’t understand the importance of face-to-face communication.

Listening.

Good communication involves more than talking. Demonstrate appropriate listening skills by actively listening to your spouse. Active listening looks like looking at your spouse, asking clarifying questions, and even leaning toward them.

Disagreeing and problem solving.

Disagreeing is fine but please don’t intentionally fight in front of your kids. Some parents believe it’s important for kids to see “reality” including your fights. I disagree. Children cannot understand all the dynamics involved in your argument and feel less secure when their parents fight. Keep your arguments as private as you can. Your children will pick up on the tension well enough anyway. When you and your spouse disagree, make sure your kids see how you solve the problem by negotiating a solution.

Making up.

Fight in private but make-up where your kids can see you ask for forgiveness and offer forgiveness.

Laughing.

Good relationships are fun. Show your kids it’s fun to be in relationship with one another. If you have lost the ability to have fun ask your kids for how-to-be-silly tips.

Interacting with friends.

We are designed for community. Good marriage relationships don’t isolate. It’s fine to get a babysitter for date night but make sure to include times when you and your spouse hang out with other couples to show your kids what community feels like.

Kissing.

Physical affection is a wonderful part of a great relationship. Your kids may hide their eyes depending on their age but they love it. They’ll feel the love.

Children are observant and master imitators. They may not do what you say but they will always do what you do.

What would you add to this list?


Parenting is hard and takes a more dramatic turn during the holiday season. My ebook, The Best Holiday Ever: How to move from conflict to connection this holiday season discusses how to navigate the wilds of parenting during the Christmas season. It’s easy to read it now.

The Best Movie of the Year (and How it Can Transform Your Marriage)


inside out on blue


Movies magically transport viewers into stories. The best stories create powerful emotion in those who experience them. You know a good movie when you feel it. My favorite movies leave me feeling a strong emotion. Braveheart and Gladiator leave me feeling strong and courageous. Marly and Me leaves me feeling sadly reminiscent. The Sound of Music leaves me feeling content. I avoid scary movies because I don’t like to feel afraid. Rudy leaves me feeling capable and proud.

How we feel after watching a movie is the real measure of it’s greatness. If the story can go beyond entertainment and touch your emotions you’ve really experienced the story.

Emotions not only impact our experience of watching a movie, they also color our entire life. The greatest experiences of life impact us deeply because of emotion. Think about the most meaningful parts of your life; birthday parties, Christmas celebrations, your wedding day, the birth of your children. These moments are significant because you experienced strong emotion.

Inside Out by Disney’s Pixar (now available on DVD) is the best movie of the year. Watch the trailer.

Inside Out not only left me with a strong emotion like all great movies, but it’s also about emotion. The emotions of Riley, the story’s main character, take center stage. As Riley faces a series of changes in her life joy, sadness, disgust, anger and fear get to work. The movie brilliantly animates the abstract experience of emotion with a revealing look inside our minds.

Inside Out can transform your marriage if you apply these 3 lessons well.

Emotions matter deeply. They run the show and profoundly impact our lives. For a wonderful marriage identify your own emotion and then seek to understand the emotion of your spouse.

Our experiences and most importantly, our memory of these experiences hold emotion. Inside Out illustrates well how memories are intertwined with emotion. Get to know the experiences of your spouse. Their childhood experiences can be powerful as well as how they feel about their experiences of today.

Every emotion is needed. At first in the movie, Joy doesn’t understand why Sadness is around, but by the end, Sadness plays an important role. Don’t run from emotion in your marriage no matter how uncomfortable you feel. Respond to your spouse with love through all their emotions to build a strong connection.

I love emotion. Helping couples identify and use emotion to build a strong connection in their marriage is my favorite part of my job as a counselor. When you pay attention to emotion in your marriage your relational intimacy deepens. The same happens in your relationship with your children. The more you pay attention to your child’s core emotions, the deeper your connection. Your children learn the most about emotion by watching you and experiencing emotion through their relationship with you. Gather your kids, get some popcorn and watch Inside Out together. You’ll have fun, build lasting memories with good emotions, and perhaps it will spark new conversations about emotions. Pay attention to emotion and you’ll not only deepen your relationship with your spouse but with your children as well.

inside out color

The Day Our Son Zoomed Into the Street

bike in street


I remember the day like it was yesterday.

The blue sky contained only wisps of white clouds. The late morning sun gave the promise of afternoon warmth although the air still felt a bit cool. Our boys eager to play outside pulled their bicycles out of haphazard pile in the corner of the garage. They smile the biggest when riding their bikes and that day was a picture perfect morning for a ride. With a reminder, each put on their helmet careful not to pinch their chin with the clasp.

Both boys ride confidently riding up and down the sidewalk in front of our house and make countless circles in the driveway.

Hollie and I love watching our boys ride, the older with a helmet hand-painted blue to match his bike and the younger following close behind his brother peddling his spiderman bike. We typically stay close by while they ride, often sitting on our small porch checking email or tinkering in the garage as the boys zoom by.

Then our six year old ventured into the street.

At first he simply made a larger turns veering slightly into the street. We praised his adventuresome spirit but warned him not to go too far into the street.

I’m not sure what Hollie and I were doing exactly, where we went or what distracted us. Perhaps we were reading another email, remembered the laundry needed to be put in the dryer, or decided to go in the backyard to water the garden. We didn’t think anything about it at the time.

As his younger brother watched, our six year old lined up his bike in the garage pointing toward the street. He took off pedaling hard with his head down just as a white Toyota Camry rounded the corner near our neighbor’s house.

Our son in his hand-painted blue helmet quickly covered the distance of the driveway.

I happened to look up from what I was doing.

At the last second he turned, entering the street only by a few feet then circled back up into the driveway.

The car slowed and carefully passed.

Your marriage is like our boys, fun, adventurous, and precious beyond measure.

Please take special care to protect your marriage.

Pain and destruction are coming down the street faster than you realize. Evil seeks to destroy you. Suffering and even death is possible for your marriage when you ignore the oncoming danger.

I try to keep a positive and encouraging tone most of the time. But I’m tired of you acting so careless about your marriage.

Stop pretending your marriage is fine when you are cruising through life head down.

Pay attention.

I don’t know what marriage killer is coming down the street toward your marriage. It could be addiction, pornography, unfaithfulness, unresolved conflict, selfishness, complacency, or dishonesty.

As a marriage counselor I feel like an emergency room doctor witnessing the devastating results of careless couples running toward destruction. I’ve seen the destruction of families and it’s likely you have too.

Please don’t let the fact that your marriage hasn’t been bloodied by a Mack truck lull you into believing you are invincible.

We were fortunate our son didn’t get hit by a car that day. The close call motivates us to persist in teaching him how to safely have fun riding his bike.

Prevention doesn’t feel sexy or exciting. Preventing harm doesn’t seem to contain the same heroics as life flights or emergency surgery but I’d rather see my son’s smiling face in front of my house than the heroics of a paramedic.

I’m not recommending you become paranoid and overreact to every slight misstep. You’ll suffocate your connection. But the laissez faire way you attend to your marriage will lead to pain.

Pay attention to events and attitudes which threaten to destroy your connection.

Some threats are as obvious and destructive as an 18 wheeler rumbling down the street. For example: pornography, addiction, or infidelity. Other threats arrive with less warning and leave serious scars. For example: unresolved money fights, schedules too busy for each other, or criticism.

Look up and turn away from the danger coming toward your marriage. Do it now before it’s too late. Your marriage is precious and worth protecting.


Great. But who has time for a wonderful relationship? You do! Click Here. I’ll send you “The First Step To A Wonderful Marriage when You Have No Time”

5 Affirmations Every Mom Should Hear From Their Husband Every Day. (Especially on Mother’s Day)

Photo by Debbie Brown brownstudios.com
Photo by Debbie Brown brownstudios.com

Moms are the best.

They supply the world with generous unconditional love. Moms deserve to know the impact of their work because the pressure of mothering can be heavy at times. Mommy guilt is the feeling moms get when they feel inadequate in their efforts to fulfill all the expectations in life. In those moments they worry about their priorities and feel they should have done something different. Husbands, you can’t prevent all of these feelings but you can greatly reduce them by affirming her. Sharing positive comments about your wife’s mothering skills is a great way to instantly improve your marriage. Notice her efforts and remind her of your love and gratitude for who she is and what she does. Share these five affirmations with your wife everyday for a wonderful marriage.

  1. You are a good mom. Parenting has a way of leading to self-doubt. When the frustrations of caring for kids overwhelm, it’s easy to be discouraged. Your wife should hear from you “you are a good mom.” If she protests, gently persist with specific examples.

  2. We can do this together. Marriage is a partnership in all aspects and parenting works best when it’s a team sport. Embrace the shared goal of raising kids into functioning adults. When she knows you are truly in it together, the load of the task is not quite as heavy.

  3. Your work is valuable. To really love your wife, affirm her efforts and daily activities. Tell her the actions she takes are noticed and you are grateful for her work. If your wife cares for your kids full time make sure to notice and affirm the little miracles she performs every day. Mothers who work outside the home need to feel supported and appreciated for their work at the office and raising kids.

  4. I love you. Affirming your love for her is always important. Sure, we overuse the word love for everything. “I love bacon, I love power tools, I love Netflix.” But declaring your love in a relationship IS special. Remind her daily of your commitment to love her. Simply saying “I love you” communicates you notice her and are emotionally available and responsive.

  5. It’s ok to rest. Mothering is exhausting and never ending. It’s also probably a lot of work being married to you. Mothers frequently have the internal pressure to continue performing and striving. That’s good, it ensures the survival of humanity. But mothers also need to know physical and emotional rest is appropriate. Give your wife the go ahead to rest and then get busy providing her the opportunity to rest when needed.

Affirmations work best when you use both words and actions. Telling her is good, showing her is awesome, doing both is magic.



You may also like: 5 Affirmations Every WIFE Should Hear From Her Husband Every Day. Learn what to say first when you give a compliment and what to say first when you are arguing. Hint: The subtle difference will make all the difference.

The Light Has Come

iphone 2013 967

The church is dark and still.
One small candle is lit. From the front of the church the light spreads from one person to their neighbor as the candles receive the light. Slowly the light spreads like clouds parting to reveal the stars beyond. The flickering light changes the room from darkness to the warm glow of wonder and awe. I assist my son to light his candle. He is excited to hold fire, reverence and excitement mix as he watches his flame. Nearby, I see the faces of my family lit softly. The church is now full with the multiplied light illuminating the community. I see the people in the room but I imagine the community of Christians worldwide celebrating in this moment. I also imagine those who have gone before, who have left their legacy of light, the legacy of Christ in them.

The world is dark and anything but still.
When evil and darkness seem especially cruel, I remember; The Light has come into the world and the darkness will not overcome it.

That is worth celebrating on Christmas and every day.

This Christmas Eve I will celebrate the birth of Jesus with my family and experience the wonder and light of the season. The candlelight service on Christmas Eve is a spiritual experience and tradition that warms and strengthens my soul. Spiritual experiences are individually powerful but they also greatly impact relationships. When we connect with our savior, celebrate His coming, and His continued presence in our lives our connection in marriage deepens.

What are your favorite spiritually significant experiences at Christmas time?