Parenting Takes Three

Are you the adult you want your child to grow up to be?


Two are better than one, a cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

As we reflect at ourselves as parents we must also look at ourselves as marriage partners. Happy marriages are not just the stuff of Hollywood. They are real goals in real life. In Peter 4:8 we are told ”above all hold unfailingly your love for one another.”

How a husband and wife relate to one another establishes the emotional climate of the home. From their parents children first experience love and trust. According to best selling authors, Gary Smalley and John Trent, love is a decision that begins with honoring one another. Gentleness and kindness are the actions of love. Anger and unforgiveness are the greatest enemies of intimacy. What are your children witnessing.

Children learn from observing their parents. When parents are affectionate, kids  sense love and feel secure. According to Philip Cowan, PhD., professor of psychology at the University of California Berkeley, “Children definitely learn how to give and take, how to handle anger, and how to express their feelings by observing their parents model of relating. New research indicates that the way children get along with other kids, including their siblings, closely correates with how their parent get along.”



The Ideal Family System


God created the first family system. In the family are three subsystems: marriage, parental and sibling.

Marital or Spousal System

First, God created marriage. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife and they will be come one flesh.” Mark 10:7-8 The marital relationship with God at it head provides the emotional climate and is the cornerstone of family dynamics. For a marriage to be working well couples need to experience love and intimacy as well as individual and spiritual growth.

Parental System

As children arrive on the scene, parents are confronted with all the demands of providing and caring for their off spring. Both the child’s security and bonding between parent and child are largely dependent on the quality of the marriage. It is important that a husband and wife pull together and present a united front when encouraging, disciplining and instructing their children.

Sibling System

In the sibling system children learn to negotiate, compromise, and compete with one another. This set the stage and provides rehearsal for peer relationships.

Evidence from a multitude of studies and research show clearly that children who have two loving committed parents thrive.


The Marriage Relationship Matters

The foundation of the family is built on the marriage relationship. Without love the foundation crumbles. In a healthy marriage, both partners experience intimacy as well as individual and spiritual growth. Intimacy grows when couples nurture, appreciate and confide in one another. Distance grows when couples clam up, blow up and blame one another. Maintaining a balance between a close caring relationship with one’s spouse and retaining autonomy is key. Few master the process.

How a husband and a wife relate to one another establishes the emotional climate of the home. Love is a decision that begins with honoring one another. Gentleness and kindness are the currency of love. Anger and unforgiveness erode intimacy. Children learn from observing their parents. When parents are affectionate, kids sense love and feel secure. If anger and conflict reign, then children feel anxious and unsettled. What are your children witnessing?


Habits of Happy Couples

  • Keep in touch sharing events and concerns of the day.
  • Appreciate and affirm one another.
  • Demonstrate affection with hugs, kisses, smiles, and words
  • Communication has a ratio of five to one positive responses to negative.
  • Share the same values, goals and traditions.

God Is the Glue

Making God the head of your marriage is the path to love and harmony. Making Jesus lord of your life means giving up control of your life to God. We humans try so hard to take and keep control of our lives, not doing very well at it. So many of our efforts are either spent on controlling others or ourselves. Yet, the most powerful and healing decision is to give up our need to always be in control. In this process we give birth to the authentic child within, the person God created as to be.

The need to be in control is an attempt to become the God of our own life. Our will, rather than God’s will, becomes the architect of our lives and destiny. Our human attempt to control our own lives results in repression of our emotions, a facade of independence, and a loss of intimacy. It also results in a ludicrous need to be perfect. the knowledge that only God is perfect, we try to become the God of our own life!

When we finally come to a point in life where we realize that ultimately we cannot control the most important aspects of life, we begin to give up the obsession that we can control anything and everything. Paradoxically, we slowly find that one of the most powerful and healing acts is giving up the need to always be in control. The “Let Go-Let God ” slogan of the AA is most profound. In so doing we begin the journey God created for us to follow His path for our lives. In this process, fear turns to trust, shame to respect and indifference to love.

I know this well.  Following a crisis in our marriage, my husband and I made the decision to make Jesus the head of our household. This requires a relationship with Jesus, an alive vivid union, oneness with our Lord and Savior. After all, union with God is the ultimate purpose of life. As Jesus prayed to His Father, ” I have made you known to them and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.” {John 17:26} As in all relationships this requires time, time in prayer, Bible reading and mediation. Praying together morning, evening and in sone circumstances hourly, seeking God’s guidance on all important decisions.For the past forty years, it has been my habit to begin each day with a 30 minute quiet time reading the Bible, devotionals, praying, seeking and listening to Jesus. Immeasurable blessings and benefits followed.


Make Jesus the Head of the House Hold



  • As a couple seek God’s guidance in all major decisions.
  • Read the Bible daily for wisdom, instruction, guidance, comfort and encouragement.
  • Be a praying family.
  • Make a habit of praying with your spouse daily.
  • The closer you get to Jesus the more loving you become.
  • The closer you move to Jesus the closer you become to each other


God Gives Us Himself

God’s promises:

  • Daily provision Matthew 6:25-30, 2 Corinthians 9:8, Philippians 4:6-7
  • Companionship and being there – I will never leave you, nor abandon you. Hebrews 13:5
  • Purpose – Jeremiah 29:11
  • Healing – Matthew 9:22, Acts 3:16, James 5:14-15.
  • In prayer – a listening ear, his presence, guidance and answers.
  • In Bible reading – his will and ways, practical examples and stories of what works and how to do it.
  • In fellowship – encouragement, inspiration and motivation.


God Gives Us Others

While God designed the ideal model for your family system and wants you to have that, he knew not everyone would get it. We live in a fallen world. Marriages dissolve. Spouses leave or die. Relationships suffer discord. So while God made everything good to begin with (the Bible tell us in in Genesis1:31), he also does the remarkable to remake it (Job 5:9). What’s broken or damaged, he rebuilds, renews, restores. Where one family system may seem lacking, where some spokes on the wheel are missing, he fills in himself and gives us others.

Enlist grandparents. What if you ask grandparents to help you financially or with lifts for the kids to or from school, or with their wisdom and all they’ve learned from experience.

Become a multi-generational family. According to the Pew Research Center analysis of the 2012 Census Bureau data eighteen percent of families in the United States today include parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles too.

Call upon the Church to support you. The church will teach you ad give your the support of other believers. Many churches today have support groups for single parents providing fellowship, resources and guidance.


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