Lately, we have been doing a series of blogs in our newsletters called “Parenting With Your Marriage.” The idea behind the title is that your marriage acts as a form of parenting, with your children observing your interactions with your spouse. Some of the most powerful results of parenting occur when a child mimics what he/she observes in the home. These sections are designed to show you that parenting does not require neglecting your marriage, but you can be intentional by feeding both fires. This month’s section is parenting with accountability.
Once toddlers, children start the process of testing the waters with their parents. At preschool age they try to see if lying will work and get them out of trouble. The attempts at manipulation start young. A child breaks something and hides it underneath a blanket in the corner of the room and you find it a few hours later. “How did this get here?” “I don’t know,” the child shrugs. You know this scenario, and you know the parenting lesson that comes out of it. The child is supposed to come to you and be accountable when he/she makes a mistake, and then if you ask the child about it, he/she is supposed to be responsible and admit the mistake.
We all make mistakes or choose to do something that our spouse wouldn’t approve of, but often parents think it is okay to tell their kids, “don’t tell mommy/daddy about this.” This sends the wrong message to our kids; this makes them think if they your secrets then they can get away with their bad behavior. Dads, if you choose to let the kids have ice cream when the mom doesn’t let the kids have ice cream after eight, then let the kids observe you telling your wife and maybe even apologizing. Moms, if you decided to spend more money spoiling the kids, don’t try to keep it a secret. Be honest and accountable and let your kids observe taking responsibility for your decisions. Let’s not just talk the talk; let’s walk the walk. Our kids will be more apt to trust us and mimic us, and our marriage will be more trustworthy.