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Do you miss TV shows that don’t have as a host singing vegetables and blue dinosaurs? Do you feel like you kissed boo- boos, dried up tears, encouraged, corrected and hugged that drained all your energy and patience, all by noon? That’s parenting for you, isn’t it?!

In talking to moms, it seems that motherhood has been romanticized way too much. Reality is, it’s hard work, sleepless nights, giving up self and putting others before you. It will turn your life upside down. But, it’s rewarding as well! You get the privilege to be not just a doctor, counselor, referee,driver, cook and speech motivator, but you get the chance to mold character, to guide a future, to help someone reach their full potential.

The seed you plant in that miniature person will slowly, but surely sprout and bloom later. Just a few tips to make parenthood more meaningful that you may already know and apply:

– Spend quality time- I know it’s much easier to plop your kids in front of cartoon all morning. Create activities for them (Pinterest is great with that). Play with them, have fun.

– Be in the teaching mode- Kids ask loads of questions, even uncomfortable ones. Never quench their thirsty spirit! First, it’s the only way you will know what’s inside their mind. Second, give them the chance to find out the truth from you, not the internet or friends, they might get a distorted answer otherwise. Always answer with honesty and simplicity based on their development, not more and not less.

– Model humility- If you were in traffic and started yelling at the other driver with your kids as witnesses, grow up and admit to your kids that even mom and dad make mistakes.

– Model asking for forgiveness- When the situation requires it, ask your children for forgiveness. Nothing will teach them better how to do it as you show them how.

– Correct your children in love- All day you might be playing good cop vs bad cop. You will be a peace-maker, you will bring protection and security. But, at times they will recognize this with stomping feet and crocodile tears. But, don’t give in. Be patient. Be firm. Be Consistent. Be loving. Be forgiving after they recognize they were wrong.

– Always ask questions when a situation arises, don’t accuse. Don’t assume you know exactly what happened if you were not in the room. Correct the situation, then end it with a big hug and smile.

Because parenting is so challenging, both husband and wife need to take time to focus on their couple relationship at all times. Why? Well, this is how it usually starts… Two young adults fall in love, get married and before you know it, they start holding little ones in their arms. As time goes by, they start distancing themselves and they become strangers, with the common goal of investing everything in the kids. Sooner than later those precious toddlers become young adults and leave the nest empty. At this point, they are stuck looking at each other like two strangers at the bus stop…

So, before it’s too late…

– Keep up those weekly date nights with your spouse. Get a trustworthy sitter that won’t interrupt you every five minutes.

– Never stop showing affection in front of your children. Model to them a healthy marriage. You know that cute phase they go through when they get jealous of you kissing, hugging or sitting next to your spouse? Let it be cute just once, then nip it in the bud. Don’t let children control your marriage. It’s healthy for them to see the various relationships within a family.

– Invite grandparents for the weekend, and run away with your spouse to a nice getaway to reconnect.

– Is your anniversary coming up? Plan it well. And plan it without your children. Plan to spend quality time getting to know one another even better. Husbands, don’t assume that flowers will still solve a fight, maybe she just wants to talk. Wives, don’t assume he just wants a big delicious meal, maybe he would rather you not criticize him in public.

– Several times a year, my husband and I are very intentional in doing a check up concerning our marriage. This helps us both to see if we are still on the same page, if there are new dreams to reach or fears to conquer. As you pack for your time with your spouse, print these questions and use them to start to learn more about each other. Remember that many times children’s perspectives on marriage will be as healthy as the relationship between their mom and dad is. You are given the privilege to mold a little child’s character and shape their view of what family looks like. No pressure, but it’s on you to do your part, and then it’s up to them to make the right choices when they grow up.

Before you start asking these questions, prepare yourself to be surprised. Be open-minded. Listen carefully. Make mental notes. Try to make some positive changes.

Before you answer these questions, think before you say something. Be honest, but loving.

Questions for your spouse (from simple to more complex):

1. What is your favorite color?

2. What is your least favorite color?

3. What foods/ restaurants you enjoy most? Top five.

4. What foods/ restaurants you enjoy least. Top five.

5. What are your favorite books?

6. What books have you enjoyed recently?

7. What is your favorite childhood memory? Why?

8. What is your least favorite childhood memory? Why?

9. Who was your favorite teacher? Why?

10. Who was your least favorite teacher? Why?

11. What were your dreams as a child?

12. What are your dreams now?

13. Is there anything I can do to help you achieve your dreams?

14. What is the most relaxing thing you enjoy doing?

15. What is the most stressful thing you hate doing?

16. What is your deepest fear?

17. What is your greatest joy?

18. What are the things you most appreciate about me?

19. What are some things you would like for me to change?

20. What places would you like to visit? Your bucket list?

21. What would a perfect anniversary look like?

22. How would a memorable family vacation look?

23. How would your perfect birthday look?

24. How would a perfect Christmas look?

25. What gifts would you rather receive for your birthday? Christmas?

26. What do you appreciate or what changes would you like for me to make concerning: clothing, hair-style, eating habits, work out habits, etc.?

27. Do you believe we need to make some changes in our schedules? Give specific examples.

28. Are there some changes we need to make concerning our children’s discipline, education etc.?

29. Lets review the expectations and consequences we have for our kids.

30. If you had a magic wand, where would you be right now?

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