Friday, May 3, 2013

Could your child be the other person?

Sunday I said that some people have too many people in their marriages.  I've heard from one friend who's already realized who the extra person in her marriage is.  One of the examples I gave was a son or daughter.  I've had a request to discuss that idea further, so here goes.

First, I don't know that I'm right about this.  So, I welcome feedback.  I've recently purchased Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend's Boundaries with Kids book.  If figuring out relationship connections versus boundaries is of interest to you, then I encourage you to check out one of their many books on boundaries in general, boundaries in marriage, boundaries in dating, boundaries with teenagers, and more.

Second, many of us struggle to balance our connection with our kids and our connection with our spouse.  On one hand, our kids are with us for such a short amount of time.  We want to love on them, teach them, and spend time with them while we can.  On the other hand, our kids will one day leave their father and mother and be united with their spouse, and the two will become one.   And we'll be left with our spouse, so we'd better keep that relationship healthy.

I think we run the risk of hurting both our marriages and our kids' marriages.  If our kids are too connected with us, then they will have difficulty connecting with their own spouses.  And, if we model marriage that includes more than two people, then we do our kids a disservice, setting them up with unhealthy expectations of marriage.

I think our spouses must know that they are our primary, number one, human relationships.  Even above our kids.  That builds trust, unity, and security.  That helps the parents be a united parenting team.  It helps the kids see the parents as a united parenting team.  If a son knows he's Mom's favorite person, then it lessens Dad's authority in his life and likely makes Dad feel like an outsider in his own family.

Again, this has limits.  If a parent is abusive, then the other parent has to put the kid first, above the marriage, and get the kid in a safe environment.  I can also imagine a scenario in which there is a crisis involving a child.  I could see parents agreeing to put the child first for a period of time.

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