Thursday, August 13, 2009

What's the best thing that parents can do for their kids?

What's the best thing that a parent can do for their kids? This is the question that I got to thinking about after reading Jamsco's post on The Responsible Puppet. His post was mostly a critique of a book review in the Star Tribune of the book "Bad Mother" by Ayelet Waldman. I had heard an interview on NPR's Fresh Air (Don't stop reading, Gregg.) It was a very interesting interview. On the Fresh Air page, they link to an article that Waldman wrote for the NY Times about how she felt guilty, she felt she was a bad mom, because she loved her husband more than she love her kids.

What do you think? Is it bad to love your spouse more than your kids? I would say, "certainly not." Furthermore, I would say that the best thing that you can do for your kids is to love your spouse more than anyone. Isn't this a common opinion and even conventioal wisdom among Christians? One of my goals in relating to my kids is to let them know that God is my Lord, Jesus my Savior and their mother is my best friend in the world. If I could accomplish this, I don't think it would make me a bad parent. It would help my kids to feel secure that their home is a stable place, that they are not the center of my universe or the universe in general and it would set a presedent that they could follow in their marriage. It seems that many marriages that fail, fail for just that reason. One of the people loves the something more than he/she loves his/her spouse. If you want to talk about being a bad parent, then setting up a situation where there is not a stable marriage at the center of the family would certainly be one way to do it.

I hope my kids when they are able to articulate something like this would say that dad's priorities look something like this.
  1. God
  2. Church
  3. Mom
  4. Kids
  5. Work
These are high hopes and ones that daily fall flat. My list most often looks like this.
  1. Andy
This is something that I pray for God's grace to my wife, children and me. I am in need of his cross for forgiveness and for the strength to get my list right.


Heidi said...

that's a tough one. to me its like apples and oranges. i don't spend my days comparing the two. i love both of them in equal and opposite ways. i think the one good point that was made in that article is that it may not be good for your children if you're focusing everything on them and neglecting your spouse. one day they'll move on to their own things and when that time comes we better hope we haven't put all of our eggs in one basket. for our sake, AND theirs. kids need to see that their mother and father love each other and know that a relationship would still exist if not for them.

i have to wonder why this woman has put so much effort into comparing the two though. her descriptions were creeping me out a bit. can't we love both equally? that idea was never proposed.

a good and thought-provoking post....

Anonymous said...

I laughed out loud at your "usual list". Seriously, why is that so hard?

Lately, I have boiled parenting down to the most important thing being me having an authentic relationship with the Lord. Anything else I do besides that seems monumentally unimportant. You basically said that in your post though.


Sharon said...

I guess it really boils down to
"Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself". I think Tricia is so right. When that part of my life is right then all of my other relationships fall into line.
On the topic of's really easy to put the needs of young children before the relationship between husband and wife. I read recently that the human tendency in marriage is to move away from one another and I think that putting children before your spouse helps to make that happen. That's why I so often recommend to young parents that they regularly have time away from their children to "move back toward each other". It takes some real work to do it, but it's worth the effort.

philthecarl said...

Hey brother,

Thanks for the post. I really appreciate all your thoughts here.

I think Heidi is on to something, why does there need to be a separation or distinction? I don't love my best friend the same as I love my wife, but I love them both fully with the love I have for them. But you're right, if I had to pick between the two if they were both in the same crisis, I would show priority to my wife, but thankfully that rarely, or even never, happens.

I'm a little confused by your list. I'm not saying it's wrong or disappointing, just wanting clarification.

What do you mean by "church"? I would think your priorities would be for your wife and children before the local church or the church at large. Perhaps I don't understand what you mean here.

Also, how did you come to prioritize work before friends, family, the nations, or something else in that realm? I know you and I know you would willing lay down your job for your friends if it came to that. Or is that what you meant by "church"?

Andy Gammons said...

Thanks for reading. I wondered if my priority list might rouse any questions. I tried to put them in order of eternal relationships. When the relationships and the impact that I have in the church will last forever. My marriage relationship is a temporal one. The great thing about my relationship to Amanda and ideally with my kids is that they are/will be Christians and therefor will be part of the church. I think there are times when the kingdom trumps my familial relationships. So to your question, yes sometimes friends and other Christians and the nations and evangelism will be a higher priority than my family. Sometimes.

Let's talk more about this at lunch.

philthecarl said...

I look forward to it!