Raising kids is A LOT of work. Raising kids WELL is even more work. It takes a lot of time, endless energy, good ideas, tons of patience, lots of prayer, and the grace of God to do so.
I am very blessed in this subject though. Julia is an amazing mom! Seriously…she is. And it really makes my job easy! She thinks of cool ways to teach things all the time that I would never think about.
So, one area that I struggle in is being passive as a parent. I see the awesome things that Julia does and, to be honest, it’s easy to get lazy. If Eli does that needs correcting, I know Julia is going to have a great way to address it and teach him something from it. If he is upset about something from school, Julia is going to be there with some great comforting and will draw him out to get to the root of the issue. So sometimes I get caught in this trap feeling like I don’t NEED to do anything.
I realize this is frustrating for her though. No one wants to have to parent on their own. It’s exhausting! But, when I sit back and leave it to Julia to address all these things that come up, I’m forcing her to do all the work. So, I have to make a conscious effort to be active at this.
When Eli speaks back to Julia, I try to step in and address it before she has a chance to. When he interrupts someone when they’re talking, I try to talk to him about it. When he is wandering around when he’s supposed to be getting ready for bed, I try to get him focused back on task. Julia does all these things (and MUCH more). But, I want him to hear from ME that it’s not ok. I want BOTH of us to be teaching him these things. I feel when parents are unified in the message they are teaching, it makes the message so much clearer and will be more effective.
So guys, if we want to show our wives that we love them, get on board with parenting. This is very much a work in progress on my part. Don’t let her shoulder the burden alone. Talk with her about strategies of how to address things. Talk about whatever phase your kids seem to be going through. And make sure you’re engaging your child when the need arises. I guarantee you she will appreciate it.
I think one of the most challenging things to do, as a husband, is to lead by example. I have a good job, a great family, good friends, and a nice house. Life is great, but you know what I find to be difficult?…stretching myself. When my needs are met, I find it tough to be motivated to get out of my comfort zone. There are so many things I could do more of, that I’m not doing now. But, I often make the excuse that I can’t possibly do it all, so instead I don’t do anything! Or, if I feel convicted about an issue I know that if I ignore it for enough time it will fade from having to consider it.
The other day, Eli and Julia were having a conversation about why everything seems to be made in China. This led to discussions about child labor, poor working conditions, and fair trade opportunities…with something about Charles Dickens thrown in there somewhere. Eli seemed really into it and I realized this was a great opportunity to do something. I realize I’m probably not going to reform our global economy, but at least I can do SOMETHING. So, I brought it up at the dinner table for us to think about what are some ways we can make a difference in our family. We decided to brainstorm things we could buy that could be “fair trade” that we don’t normally. Eli emailed his uncle Brian and aunt Becky (who have a lot of great insight into this) to get some ideas. So far, I’ve found a good coffee source where I can buy “fair trade” coffee that is grown using environmentally friendly techniques and emphasizes on getting the profits back to the 3rd world farmers rather than large distribution companies. Yes, the coffee was more expensive than what I normally buy, and chances are it won’t be dramatically better either. But, I’m happy to know that I’m making a small difference in someone else’s life, and that makes the extra couple dollars a bag worth it. I’m going to continue to look for other things I buy where I could do the same. And I’m excited to teach Eli that sometimes you need to take a stand for something.
So, what does this have to do with being a good husband? Generally, I don’t do things like this. But, in this instance, I’m proud to say that I didn’t just sit on my butt and say, “yeah it stinks for those sweatshop workers that get paid next to nothing” before moving on and forgetting about them. I decided this was something I could do something about. No more getting whatever coffee bag is on sale at the grocery store while ignoring the social injustice it represented. I hope that the example I set showed my wife and son something and encouraged them to consider similar things when faced with the opportunity.
My challenge to you:
Be an example for your wife and kids. Don’t wait for your wife to take the initiative on doing good things. Look for opportunities to help other people, even if it cost you something…scratch that…ESPECIALLY if it cost you something. Don’t try to take on the world. All you need to do is start small. Pray for God to show you opportunities and act on them when you see them. And build from there.
It sounds simple…loving your wife. All you have to do is…take her on dates, cook dinner from time to time, dress nicely, keep your breath smelling good, buy her flowers, and buy her chocolates…right? Unfortunately it’s not that simple. What if your wife hates chocolates? What if she doesn’t enjoy it when you cook meals? You can’t assume that something the majority of the population appreciates applies to your wife too.
Let’s say for example that some of the things your wife loves more than anything are having a clean car and eating out at restaurants. Those things just make her feel alive! Instead of sneaking out to buy her some chocolates as a surprise, how about sneaking out to deep clean her car? And instead of showing her love by cooking a meal at home, surprise her by taking her out to eat.
This seems like a no brainer, but the tricky part is how do you KNOW what those things are that she loves? I suggest simply talking about it. Tonight after you put the kids to bed, don’t open up the computer to do some work, don’t turn on the tv…sit down with your wife and answer these questions:
- What are things your spouse does that you feel loved from?
- What are things you wish your spouse would do that would help you feel loved?
You may be surprised at what comes out of this conversation. Make sure to take notes and keep them where you see them frequently. The first step to loving your wife is to know how she receives it. The second step is to act on it. And the best way to act on it is to be reminded of what it is.
My advice to you:
Sit down and talk with your wife going through the questions above. Maybe tonight before bed. Maybe on the next date you have. It doesn’t matter when, just do it. And then, make sure that the effort you put into loving your wife is directed in the right areas.