On the trip from Branson, Missouri to Sacramento, I devoured Dr. John Rosemond’s book, Parenting by the Book. Check out his site at www.rosemond.com. As America’s most widely-read parenting expert, he has authored numerous books on parenting and is on demand as a speaker all around the United States. Some of his other works include, Parenting The Strong-Willed Child , Making the “Terrible” Twos Terrific, Because I Said So , The NEW Six-Point Plan for Raising Happy, Healthy Children, Toilet Training Without Tantrums .
He has a very unique perspective as a Christian psychologist and confesses to having bought into all the psychological theories and perspectives that flourished in the 1960s before he became a Christian. He claims that after the 1960’s parenting in America changed for the worse. As a Christian who knows psychology and Bible truth, he explains that the root problem of people, children included, is our sinful nature. Pyschologists subscribe to things like “behaviour modification,” but experimenting on rats does not reveal the truth about human nature.
Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, as Proverbs tells us, and parents have got to take back their position of leadership in the home to train their children in the way they should go. Of course all of this is still done in the context of love.
One of the most interesting parts of the book was the revelation that most parents today do 75% parenting and 25% marriage. Last week when I gave a seminar on Learning Styles, I asked the audience, “What do you parents talk about when you get together with other parents? How about when you are with your spouse?” They answered, “the kids.” I’m guilty of this, too! How often have I inserted the children as a topic of conversation during date nights with Edric? They just keep coming up and are so top of mind! Rosemond asked us the same question during the HSLDA conference in Missouri. His point was parents have become so child-centered in their parenting. It really should be 75% marriage, 25% parenting and not the other way around.
Rosemond painted a picture of the good ol’ days. He said that when a husband would come home, he looked forward to being with his wife. And the wife would be ready to meet him at the door. By the time her husband came home, she would have made sure that the home was in order, she was physically presentable, and the kids were managed. But nowadays, a father will come home and his first instinct will be to pay attention to the kids. He is seen as the playful and fun one by the children. While this may seem like a great thing, Rosemond says that many times this is pretty much the only role a father will perform when it comes to parenting. He doesn’t really discipline or disciple his children, that has been relegated to the wife’s department.
But there’s an even bigger problem. Children are no longer seeing their parents love each other as husband and wife. He warns that children who do not grow up seeing a healthy, loving relationship modeled by their parents, grow up insecure. They are much more secure when they know that mom and dad prioritize each other and have a strong marriage. This includes seeing them be romantic and sweet with one another.
Edric and I were happy when we heard this because we have always believed in couple time and getting away to be together without the kids. We still have our date nights and we make a conscious effort to be romantic with each other. Edric does a better job of it than I do! But, for a while we felt guilty when the kids would say things like, “Aww, you are going out again? Can’t we go, too?” But after hearing Rosemond’s talk, we realized that the guilt was not necessary. Our children need to know that our time together is important and it is a priority. Loving each other as husband and wife will enable us to love them better as our children. That is how God designed it – marriage first, then the kids.
Sadly, child-centered parenting is one of the reasons why so many children are problematic. Parents over-protect, over-serve, over-manage their children, so much so that the children are literally the center of the home. In some ways I was like this with my first child, which is why I didn’t sleep train him till much later than he should have been. It was really to my detriment. I must have aged ten years from all the sleep deprivation. But I was afraid that if I let my baby cry at night and didn’t pick him up, I would psychologically damage him or that I was a bad mom. Well, guess what? A very wise couple said something like this to us, “you have to train your child to sleep through the night by 3 months or that window closes.” That window sure closed for us! We didn’t try to sleep train him until much later and our son kept waking up to breastfeed throughout the night until the age of nearly 2 years.
With my subsequent children, I became a little smarter. They were trained to sleep through most of the night by 2.5 months and I was a happy mom. I still got to breastfeed them but I made them adjust to my schedule. And they all turned out very fine (so far, at least!).
I know many people who have semblances of the 75% parenting and 25% marriage going on in their families. Just the other day I was speaking to a friend who told me that she and her husband have built a beautiful new home but they have not gotten to sleep in their bedroom yet. They have been sleeping on the floor of their sons’ room because their kids want them to stay in the room with them. When she found out that my kids put themselves to bed and sleep in their own room, she was shocked. And I was shocked that she was shocked.
It is really quite common that parents and kids all sleep together in the same room (at least in the Philippines), but this is a no-no. It is emblematic of the 75% parenting and 25% marriage issue. Of course I shared with this friend my concern and I was very honest with her, saying that she and her husband need to transfer to their own room and let their kids get used to sleeping on their own, even if they have to cry for a few nights to adjust. (Our youngest has already turned one, so she will be moving out to her own room as well. We’ve got to figure that out though because we are still in our condo.)
Having your master’s bedroom to yourself as husband and wife is just one of the ways you can send a clear message to your children that they need to respect your relationship as husband and wife. You are not bad parents if you let your kids sleep in their own room, and trust me, they don’t need a yaya or nanny to be in there with them. And, spending on another airconditioner will be worth it. Once you experience what it is like to have your own private space just for couple time, you will want to keep it that way. It does wonders for a marriage. But don’t forget to add date nights and couple bonding, too.
I can’t remember who wrote this, but I remember reading somewhere that “marriage does not naturally make a husband and wife grow closer to one another. In fact, the very opposite is often the tendency. People naturally grow apart in marriage unless you work at it.” If we are so busy being parents and putting all our energy into parenting, how can we possibly be working on our marriage? We really need to make a conscious effort to preserve the intimacy, romance, enjoyment, and fun.
75% God-centered marriage + 25% God-centered parenting makes family life 100% better!