This week my husband Josiah and I celebrated 11 years of marriage and got to enjoy an evening without children, wolfing down Mexican food, strolling downtown at a relaxed pace, hand-in-hand, and laughing over treats from our favorite ice-cream place. It was nice to reflect together on eleven years together with the hope that there are many more yet to come.
I've been thinking a lot lately about having a marriage-centered home versus a child-centered home and what that looks like for our family. Ultimately, as Christians, our homes need to be Christ-centered, first and foremost. Christ first, spouse second, children third. In today's world, so many parents are focused on their children and their activities so that "child-centered" homes seem to be the norm instead of the exception. I'm amazed when I see how many moms in my community "bending over backwards" to do everything they possibly can for their children; in how often they travel for sports, how they cram their children's schedules with endless activities and clubs, how much money they spend on their children, and the quantity of time they spend thinking about their children's lives.
Because we homeschool and I'm with my children all the time, I sometimes wonder if I'm allowing my life to become too child-centered. I love my kids and want to see them succeed. I want them to enjoy their childhood and I want to make special memories with them. I share funny stories about my kids with others, vent my parenting frustrations and questions to my friends, and take LOTS of pictures of my brood.
However, I want my children to know that they are not the center of the universe, nor are they the center of our universe. I want them to learn to respect their parents instead of expecting us to be like Cruise Ship Directors, making sure they are always having a great time. I want to have time away from my kids and conversations that aren't about them. I want to know God, and know my husband and invest in friends, my church, and those in need. I want to live a vibrant life of service to others long after my kids have left the nest.
Therefore, it seems to be a fine line that we must walk prayerfully, as we love our children and desire to support them and inspire them, but also seek to focus more on God and one another than on them.
It is all too easy for parents to lose sight of our priorities in the exhaustion that comes with raising children and keeping food on the table. It's hard to know which activities to say yes to, and which to say no to. It's difficult to resist the cultural pull to become overscheduled with fun things for our kids. It seems we are always swaying between giving our kids too much attention or neglecting them in our selfishness. There are no perfect Christians, perfect spouses, or perfect parents.
Ultimately, we need wisdom from God in determining how we will spend our time, what we will do to make our marriages a priority, and how we will raise our children to know God and to make Him known, without making them the center of our universe. If we keep our eyes on Him and stay in The Word, He will lead us.