Let’s be honest: raising great children while simultaneously building a great marriage can be tricky. Some couples bring up great kids, but their marriage suffers in the process. Others have a great marriage but their kids aren’t doing so well. The key is to do both at the same time. How do you do it?
One major thing to remember is that success—in both of these endeavors, marriage and kids—requires unity. In Mark 3:25, Jesus said, “If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.”
When parents are divided, you cannot possibly succeed in your parenting. You must present a unified front. Never argue about anything related to child-rearing in front of your children. Never let your kids know that you might have a disagreement about them.
Why? Because kids are smart. They know everything. They know who is soft on any one issue, whom to approach for money, or whom to ask for permission to hang out with their friends. And they won’t hesitate to put you on the spot or play you off each other.
That means the words parents should always find themselves saying is “Let me talk to your mother.” Or “Let me talk to your dad.”
Both of you need to refuse to get into any good cop/bad cop parenting situation. The best parents should be a two-headed monster, indivisible by their children.
What if you’re having trouble agreeing on something related to your children? The first thing you have to do is sit down together. Ask each other: What are your values? What are your beliefs?
My opinion is that men generally have half of God’s brain and women have the other half. So when we come together, we can be brilliant. (And when we separate, we are not so brilliant.) Over the years, Karen and I have found that, together, we make really great decisions.
But you have to make those decisions with respect and fairness—not just toward one another, but toward the children as well.
It should go without saying, but I’m going to say it anyway: You can’t play favorites with your kids. Whether you have a traditional biological family, a step-family, or a blended or adoptive family, unity means treating your children with fairness.
There can be no “your child” or “my child.” One child cannot get more responsibility than another, or more severe discipline, or a better allowance (allowing, of course, for age differences between kids).
All the children in a family must be treated equally. The way to do this is through unity. Every decision you make as parents must be made together.
That’s the first step in raising great children while you build a great marriage.