Tag Archives: parent-child relationship

Who Should Come First in My Stepfamily: My Spouse or My Children?

The relationship between parent and child is important, but it’s not as fundamental as the relationship between a husband and a wife (Genesis 2:24). Too often, though, parents feel a pull to put the children first in the family, and in the process, they neglect their spouse.

It’s natural for parents to feel protective of their children. But parents who have gone through a life-shattering divorce feel especially protective. They don’t want their children to hurt anymore, or to fear losing them again. For that reason, putting a new spouse first can feel like they are betraying their children.

Children need to know you love them and that you will always be there for them. Just as important, they need the security of a stable home. A healthy marriage gives children that security, because when a husband and a wife are looking out for each other’s interests, they will also look out for the best interests of the children.

Putting your spouse first never means that you neglect or abuse your children. And it certainly doesn’t mean that you allow a new spouse to neglect or abuse the children. Even something like showing favoritism, which is natural to do, should be talked about and addressed in a blended family. Ignoring unfair treatment is wrong (Romans 12:9). Parents are always responsible to provide loving, secure, healthy, and safe homes for their children to grow (Proverbs 14:26).

It’s important for husbands and wives to consider one another’s feelings and opinions. They need to stick together and head in the same direction as a couple and as parents. They should pursue each other and show deep care and respect for one another. A caring and loving spouse knows that what affects them, affects their spouse and the children. Happy marriages are loving, respectful, and considerate (Ephesians 5:21-33).

A good marriage not only gives children the security of a stable home, but it also gives them a positive example of what God intended a marriage to be. They will learn about love, confession, forgiveness, accountability, responsibility, and honesty. Parents who love one another deeply help their children develop realistic expectations about what it takes to build a strong marriage. Children need that kind of example to give them hope for their own futures.

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What Does Scripture Say About Disciplining Children?

Scripture says that if a parent loves his child, he will correct him when he is out of line. A loving parent will guide and teach their children. The Bible adds that if you neglect to train and teach your child, you don’t love your child (Proverbs 13:24) These are powerful words for parents.

It is loving to discipline a child because the benefits of discipline will give a child hope, help him make good decisions, and help him live a long and peaceful life (Hebrews 12:11, Proverbs 6:23, 10:17, 12:1, 15:5, 15:32, 19:18).

Discipline brings hope, life, peace and character to a child because it drives out foolish notions such as “The world revolves around me. I am the most important and I must have my way. No one else matters.” Through loving discipline, a child can take the focus off him and look outward to develop empathy and respect for God and others.

It is a failure to love a child if a parent ignores issues rather than addressing them directly. A lack of discipline wrongly teaches children that there are no consequences to their choices. A child who grows up with no or little discipline may become an adult who struggles with self-control, anger and respect for others (Ephesians 6:4.) He will most likely be demanding and self-centered as an adult. The Bible says that a person who rejects discipline will end up in shame and poverty. He will be stupid, act foolishly and lead others astray. A rejection of discipline also reveals a person who hates himself or herself (Proverbs 10:17, 12:1, 13:18, 15:5, 15:32).

Discipline is necessary because it motivates us to change for the right reasons. It gives children the right tools to live responsibly in the world. Neglecting discipline is a failure to love children well and it also prevents parents from experiencing the delight and peace in seeing their children have contented lives ( Proverbs 29:17 .) Parents who recognize their own issues related to discipline1 can face those issues and, through consistent discipline, lovingly offer a safe place for children to grow and mature.

Recommended reading: Boundaries With Kids by Dr. John Townsend and Dr. Henry Cloud, Making Your Children Mind Without Losing Yours by Dr. Kevin Leman. RBC booklet: How Can A Parent Find Peace Of Mind?

  1. The following are some possible reasons why a parent finds discipline so difficult:

    Discipline requires a lot of time and patience. Depending on the age and level of understanding of a child, it may be necessary for parents to explain what the child did wrong, why it was wrong, and the consequences that he or she will have to live with. This takes a significant amount of time. Unfortunately, because of busy and stressful lives, letting issues go is easier than addressing them directly.

    Discipline also requires good judgment. Parents need to be able to quickly assess a situation, decide on the important issue(s) to address and develop an action plan that will work. Parents need to know their child and understand what consequences they can handle and learn from. It can be hard at times to have to think quickly and use accurate judgment in heated situations.

    Parents sometimes feel that their efforts at discipline are futile because their children continue to wrestle with the same issues. A parent may be tempted to give up because it is exhausting to address problems over and over. But giving up sends a message that the child is not worth the effort of influencing him to become a responsible person (Proverbs 29:17.)

    Also, parents who suffered abuse as children can often find it difficult to discipline their children. Because of the cruel way their parents treated them, they confused abuse with discipline. Now as adults they believe that discipline is abusive. They may fear that if they get angry with their child, they could easily cross over into the same abusive patterns their parents practiced. Or, they believe that discipline will damage children’s self-esteem and confidence. Fearing that discipline will scar them emotionally, they let many issues go. Back To Article

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How Can My Family Be Happier?  

It’s important to understand that no family is 100 percent happy all the time. We all have our particular struggles and problems, which cause stress and anxiety for ourselves and our family members. This is part of living in a broken world. However, families can benefit from realizing that biblical love can make a happier, more content and healthy family.

Love is doing what is in the best interest of others. It is doing good for others, while never compromising or disrespecting the worth of another. Where there is love, there is mutual freedom of expression, choice, healthy boundaries, friendliness, and respect, which are necessary for the happiest of homes.

Every family member has significance and value. Children should respect and obey their parents (Ephesians 6:3-4; Proverbs 3:11-12), and parents should regard their children with high esteem (Psalm 127:3). Discipline should be done in a way that respects the child and honors them. Otherwise, children can grow to be angry (Ephesians 6:4).

A husband and a wife need to model love and respect by how they treat one another. They should seek to meet each other’s needs, without losing sight of their own needs (Philippians 2:4). They work with, not against, one another. They’re free to be honest with each other and do kind favors for the other. They love each other as Christ loves the church (Ephesians 5:2, 25).

A husband and a wife, as spouses and parents, are in a key position to set the tone of their homes. They have the ability to either create an atmosphere of power, control, fear, and hostility, or they can set the stage for a safe, loving, cooperative, and respectful home.

A happy home is not problem-free. But it is one where, for the most part, family members enjoy one another, cooperate with each other, and have a sense of camaraderie. And it’s where mutual respect between all family members guides behavior and interactions. In a happy, healthy home, love is the rule, not the exception.

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