“The quickest way for a parent to get a child’s attention is to sit down and look comfortable.” – Lane Olinghouse

“Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” – Bible

John and Joyce have been married for five years. They had looked forward to having children and now have two of them. Their desired life style requires that they both work.

Joyce’s job is part-time however and so she usually “inherits” most of the responsibilities for the kids, fixing meals, cleaning the house, etc. etc. She is tired much of the time. Whenever John suggests they take some time together – by themselves! – she is either too tired or one of the children are pulling on his/her pant leg.

They feel like they are growing apart but don’t know what to do about it.

Dennis and Barbara Rainey, in their book “Rekindling the Romance,” emphasize the need to balance the relationships between husband and wife and their children. The most important message is contained in one thought: children are third in priority for husband and wife.

First priority is their individual relationship with God. The relationship they have with each other is next, and third on the list are the children.

A hard lesson for all to learn is that the parents are in charge, NOT the children. The sooner the children learn they are not the final authority, the better will their life be forever after. Parents must be parents to their children and not their children’s best friends.

The self-centered nature of children causes them to push the boundary for discipline as far as they possibly can. In addition children learn quickly how to divide and conquer. They will go to whichever parent is more supportive at the moment and work any parental disagreements to their advantage.

Hence husband and wife must always present a united front. Any disagreements in discipline, children’s involvement in various activities, whether or not a certain friend can come over for the night, etc. should be decided by husband and wife without the child present.

A vibrant relationship of husband and wife to God, including time in meditation, both individually and as a couple, followed by thought and evaluation, will lead to a more successful marriage and a healthy environment for the children.

In order to enhance the relationship between husband and wife this evaluation process should include a listing of things that you value. For example,

• I resolve to honor my mate and never say or do anything that would cause them pain or shame.

• I resolve to not settle for mediocrity in my marriage.

• I resolve to listen to my mate and attempt to see life through their eyes.

• I resolve to give rather than to receive.

• I resolve to be faithful to my marriage vows, not only in action and word, but in intent.

Now that you have your priorities established, set guidelines for yourselves and your family. Teach your children discipline and authority by keeping the guidelines clear and simple with understood consequences for any violations. Then enforce them promptly and consistently. One of the guidelines must be that the relationships with God and husband and wife come first.

Include within the guidelines actions that support the husband and wife’s relationship. Date nights for the husband and wife on a regular basis are vital.

Limit the activities that your children are involved in and that require your time and commitment. Nowadays parents seem to think their children must be involved in every church event, sport event, music event, social activity, etc. that the community has to offer. Ultimately this is not good for the parents and usually is not beneficial for the children either.

Note that the values given above are related to relationships and not things. Honestly evaluate your “need” for all the extra things in life. Husband, wife, and children must constantly be reminded that relationships are all that matter in eternity.

The Family and Marriage Coalition of Aiken, Inc. (FAMCO) provides resources for you to succeed in your marriage and families. Roger Rollins, Executive Director, FAMCO, 803-640-4689, rogerrollins@aikenfamco.com, www.aikenfamco.com.