Okay, why are kids not the most important members of the family? After all, they are the ones who need the most attention and care. According to psychologist and leading parenting expert John Rosemond, however, the one you need to prioritize the most is your relationship or marriage with your significant other.
"Many if not most of the problems [parents] are having with their kids...are a result of treating their children as if they, their marriage, and their family exist because of their kids when it is, in fact, the other way around," Rosemond wrote in a column for Naples Daily News and was also published in Arcamax.
"Their kids exist because of them, and their marriage and [their kids] thrive because they have created a stable family," he added. Kids wouldn't have met the basic needs -- food, clothing, and shelter, and even entertainment -- without their parents.
Rosemond, who says he grew up in a marriage-centric family as opposed to today's kid-centric homes, is just one of many family psychologists who is encouraging parents not to neglect their relationship after having kids. And it doesn't matter if the kids are toddlers or teenagers -- "husband and wife should pay more attention to one another than they do to their children," he wrote for The Hartford Courant.
A happy home is certainly a significant factor, among many others, that helps in raising healthy kids. Here are more reasons why you need to focus on your marriage:
1. Your kids become more independent. "'Our child is the most important person in our family' is the first step toward raising a child who feels entitled. You don't want that. [Your child] doesn't need that," Rosemond says. You need to let the kids devise solutions to their problems and not hand them instant fixes. When you’re at your children’s beck and call, they cannot learn about life, and they will have difficulty coping.
A parent’s primary goal is to prepare a child for a fruitful and productive adult life, "to raise a child such that community and culture are strengthened," according to Rosemond. When you put your marriage and your husband first, you give your kids more room to be independent.
2. You spend less time trying to be the perfect parent. Sometimes it feels like a "good mom" today is synonymous with being too busy to have time for her spouse or herself. “She never stops thinking about and doing for her kids,” says Rosemond. So she often finds herself exhausted, anxious and stressed.
Family coach David Code writes in his best-selling book To Raise Happy Kids, Put Your Marriage First that the biggest myth of modern parenting is that the more attention we give to our kids, the better they’ll turn out. In fact, it has been said time and time again that making time for your partner and your self is crucial for your happiness, too!
3. Your kids have role models in their parents’ union. Chary Mercado writes in an article for SmartParenting.com.ph that the most important rule for raising happy and successful children is to ‘love your spouse.’ Putting too much focus on the kids and none for your spouse makes your marriage more at risk for falling apart. And when that happens, it’s the kids who bear the big chunk of the negative effects.
When the kids see how their parents love one another, how they argue with one another -- hopefully it’s the proper way -- and how they work together to resolve things, these are what your kids will look for in their future romantic relationships. They also learn to show appreciation for people they love.
4. You teach your kids to respect others and themselves. Sons learn how to respect women from how their fathers treat their mothers; daughters learn how to act in the company of the opposite sex in how her mother asserts herself and will not tolerate those who don’t measure to their dads. When your kids see you being affectionate to each other, it teaches them how to be expressive, thoughtful, and generous.
"Witnessing their parents tend to one another’s needs every once in a while just might instill some patience and compassion. I don’t see how that is selfish. In fact, it sounds like pretty stellar parenting to me," writes teacher and mom of three Stephanie Jankowski in herWhen Crazy Meets Exhaustion.
Again, putting your husband first then your kids does not mean adopting a devil-may-care attitude. “Valuing our spouses, loving our children, and finding time for ourselves can all co-exist within a healthy marriage and happy family,” says Jankowski.
Sometimes, the little stuff works fine -- make his coffee. Say 'I love you,' hold hands, and hug in front of the kids, take walks together. Prioritizing your marriage doesn’t mean you ignore your children’s needs. It’s a careful balancing act: being a wife first, then a mom, and also being your own person in between.