Looking ahead to a new year, my wife and I want to prioritise ways to strengthen our family. We’re trying to think of things that will help each of our four children feel more connected and secure. Where can we start?
Answer: You’ve heard the old schoolyard rhyme: “First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby in the baby carriage.” If you stop to think about it, this simple bit of poetry actually contains a blueprint for happy, successful family living.
Marriage is the foundation of the family. That’s why a husband and wife’s first priority should be the health of their relationship. As a matter of fact, family psychologist John Rosemond says that couples should spend eighty percent of their time strengthening their marriage, over and above the demands of their schedules or the needs of their children. If eighty per cent sounds extreme to you, remember this: your children are only as safe and nurtured as your marriage. They’ll be most content when their parents’ relationship is solid.
Beyond that, both mum and dad should make the effort to regularly “date” each child, one-on-one. It doesn’t have to be much – even just an ice cream cone and engaged dialogue. But make sure to listen to them. When your children know that you value them as unique individuals, they’ll feel more secure in their place in the household.
So it’s marriage first, then children – in that order. That’s the way it all begins, and that’s the way it works best.
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