Love Your Spouse More Than Your Kids, Make Sure the Kids Know It
Parents could take a lesson from Goldilocks. What the blonde home invader lacked in respect for property, she made up for with an affinity for moderation. When it comes to loving our kids, we tend to err in one of two directions. We either care too much or not enough. We should aim for just right.
The worst of these two errors may be caring for our children too little. But the more common one is caring too much. Indeed, as noted by authors Danielle and Astro Teller, parenting has become something of a religion. Writing for Quartz:
To understand the frightening power of the parenthood religion, one need look no further than the 2005 essay in The New York Times by Ayelet Waldman, where the author explained that she loved her husband more than her four children. On “Oprah Where Are They Now,” the author recently reaffirmed the sentiments reflected in her New York Times article, and she added that her outlook has had a positive impact on her children by giving them a sense of security in their parents’ relationship. Following the publication of her essay, Waldman was not only shouted down by America for being a bad mother; strangers threatened her physically and told her that they would report her to child protective services. This is not how a civil society conducts open-minded discourse. This is how a religion persecutes a heretic.
From whence does such inquisition emerge? Why do so many parents treat their children as the most important things in their lives?
It wasn't always that way. Children used to have a place. They were to be seen and not heard. They were to complement the lives of their parents, rather than detract from them. Somewhere along the line, that changed, and kids became a priority surpassing even their parents' marriage.
... Children who are raised to believe that they are the center of the universe have a tough time when their special status erodes as they approach adulthood. Most troubling of all, couples who live entirely child-centric lives can lose touch with one another to the point where they have nothing left to say to one another when the kids leave home.
That's tragic. The importance of children goes without saying. But the priority we grant them should not exceed that which they merit. Kids are a product of marriage, not the point of it. That's something which they should grow to know.
My boys know I love them. But they know I love their mother more. My sons' attempts to divide and conquer, to pit their mother and me against each other, meet with frustration and rebuke. I will always choose her over them, and I make sure they know it.