Does Marriage Help Your Parenting?

by Kevin Leman

“Unless the Lord builds the house, they that build it labor in vain.” Psalm 127:1

Marriage can be hard sometimes. Does my marriage, if a healthy one, really help me in my parenting? And what are the three specific ways it helps me?


I’ve been married forever. I only got married because I got sick of finishing my own sentences.

Just kidding.


What are the three ways that really being in love with your spouse helps you in parenting?


If you have a firm foundation, whatever is built on that foundation has a better chance of surviving. I love to tell a story of building our house, and 5:00 in the morning they had builders out there and it’s just getting light. I asked, “why are you here so early?” The contractor replied, “It’s foundation day!”


The truth is if the foundation isn’t right, your whole home is off.


We have to be rock solid, cemented together with a mortar of love and admiration, and respect for one another. And if that foundation is there and you truly do love each other, and you prioritize in your marriage, you will form an impervious wall where the kids cannot penetrate that and divide you in any way, shape or form.


Some people are thinking, “Wait a minute, kids are going to divide you?” Yes, they do. They’re hedonistic kids. When you show that you have a lot of respect and you spend a lot of time with each other, and you prioritize and you’re going out for your date night, there are some kids who go, “Wait, you’re going out? What about us?” They’re hedonistic.


You have to set the paradigm early in the marriage that the couple matters. You be a better parent because you do talk with each other. You don’t let things build up. You have good communication, and so the kids read that, they learn from that.


When your child comes and asks for something and all of a sudden he’s in a hurry, he needs this and that because it’s tomorrow. And you say to a son or daughter, “Honey, wait a minute, how long have you known this?” “Well, I’ve known this for a month,” he says.


 “Now you’re coming to me the night before and you want this, that and the other thing. I mean, that’s not the way life works, and it certainly isn’t the way things work in this family. I don’t know how you’re going to solve that problem, but I wish you the best at it.”


Now, what have you just told your nine year old? Don’t come in here expecting emergency aid and help when he haven’t done his work. That’s not how this family operates. What I’m saying is that kids catch the drift from parents on how to do life. It’s a teachable moment. That’s the last time a nine year old hopefully is going to come ill prepared the last minute with a list of demands for you as parents.


On the good ship family on the ocean of life, you have to pick to yourselves, both of you at the wheel of that ship, the good ship family. And again, the question I always like to ask is, do you have a destination? Do have a port of call? Do you know where you’re going? And if you do, the hands on deck will follow suit.


People want to pursue and follow a leader. And I’m just saying if you’re a leader, and being together and one on marriage not only helps you obviously spiritually, but emotionally and practically as you deal with your children.


Are there some practical benefits to parenting that if you are shoulder to shoulder, as you say, both hands on the steering wheel, that make parenting better with a strong marriage? Sure there are!

Your kids will try to please you even more when you give them vitamin E, which is encouragement.


“Hey honey, you know I came home and I see that you picked up the front yard. You know what? That was so thoughtful of you. I think those are the neighbors papers, but I noticed you picked him up. That is so helpful. Thank you honey.”


Again, keep in mind that kids want to please you. When you see things that the kids do and you just make a general comment of thanks, you’re giving that kid vitamin E. You’re telling them, “Hey mom and dad noticed.” You don’t say, “Well, somebody else is going to pick it up. You picked it up.”


Everything you do that’s in a positive way, feeds more positivity. Anything you’d do negatively, feeds what? More negative stuff.


In this super busy world that we have, many parents honestly say, “I don’t think I have enough time to do work. Keep the home together, work on my marriage and take care of my kids. There’s one too many things in there, and marriage is the easiest one to drop because someday me and the missus will be stuck together. Why would I prioritize it now when I know my kids are leaving?”


When I was a young dean of students at 29 years old, I went in and talked to the head dean, the big guy. And essentially, I was just whining about all the problems I had, because I was the administrator of the code of conduct at a university of 35,000 students.


You can imagine I was a busy guy. And I came into my boss’s office and I whined about all the problems I had. The dean patiently listened to me and then he turned and he said, “Well, Kevin, it seems to me and I could be wrong, if you didn’t have all those problems, I really wouldn’t have much need to have you here in the office.” I went and gulped and left with my tail between my legs because he was right.


Oh, the whining that we do as adults and children! I always say if your kids are whining you need a whine cellar! That’s my famous one-liner. But kids only continue to whine because you listen to them. In their mind it pays off because you’re listening.


You’ve got to draw that line to the kids don’t continue to verbally paw at you, like a baby cub toward their mother.


Make time for your spouse. Let your kids assume responsibility. Set boundaries. Good partners make good parents. 

This article is an adapted transcription of podcast 254 by Dr. Kevin Leman. 

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