Babywise Week: More Benefits of Babywise

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It’s BFBN (Babywise Friendly Blog Network) Week! We have two more great posts on the benefits of Babywise. Yesterday, Emily from Journey of Parenthood talks about how great Babywise is for different personality types. She refers to the different types of babies, as referenced in Secrets of the Baby Whisperer. She says that her oldest was an Angel Baby, but things changed when her second, a Spirited Baby, came along. But the great news is that she was able to roll with the punches and still get them to be good sleepers.

Here’s what she says about how it all turned out:

Even though I have had two very different personality types, I followed the SAME parenting philosophy with both children. Having gone through everything with Kye I was better prepared with Britt for how to really be a true “Babywise Mom” from the start and that really benefitted her! My “spirited child” is actually a much better, sounder, sleeper than her “angel baby” brother ever was.”

I love it! Head on over to Emily’s blog to read her post in its entirety.

Today, we’re featuring a post from Claire at My Devising. Claire talks about how great Babywise is in helping parents solve problems. It’s so true. I know that whenever I have problems with my kids, I don’t have to just sit idly by and accept it. I can look to my books and figure out what’s going wrong. Then I can figure out a strategy to fix it.

The other great thing that Claire points out is that Babywise kids are typically well-rested and well-behaved. If something goes wrong, we know it’s not the norm. Here’s what she says about this:

“One of the great perks of having a Babywise baby is that you have a child who sleeps.  Sleeping well is the norm.  Short naps and interrupted night sleep are unusual.”

And of course, sleep affects behavior. If sleep is off, then behavior will probably be off, too. But the great thing is that we can see the link and do what we need to do to fix it. Hop on over to Claire’s blog to read her post in its entirety.

Babywise Week: Benefits of Babywise in Older Children

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It’s Babywise Week! Today, we’re featuring a post from Valerie, our fearless leader. Valerie blogs at Chronicles of a Babywise Mom. I honestly think that Babywise would not be what it is today without Valerie. There are certainly plenty of groups and contact moms out there who help Babywise parents, but Valerie’s blog is a huge blessing. She blogs so dutifully, reaches people across the globe, and covers every topic we could ever need in applying the Babywise principles in our homes.

I first met Valerie online when my youngest (now 6.5) was a few weeks old. It turned out that we both had an older boy around the same age. I believe my oldest William is just 6 or so months older than Brayden. Well, I immediately felt an affinity with Val since we seemed to have the oldest kids in our group, and Babywise hadn’t quite hit the Internet in ways that it has since.

Like Valerie, I started my blog in response to many moms looking for support with Babywise. She was the real trailblazer, but I started my blog in 2009, more than five years ago!

But I digress. In today’s post, Valerie talks about the effects of Babywise in older children. I can certainly attest to the claims she makes that Babywise does nothing to harm our kids. In fact, it prepares them for a life of responsibility, respect, diligence, and more. If there’s one caveat to these statements, it’s that it’s not really Babywise that has prepared our older kids. Babywise is great for babies. But so many moms forget to keep reading the series. Babywise sets us off on the right foot, but Toddlerwise, Preschoolwise, and Childwise are really where the hard work starts to pay off. So if you haven’t kept up with your reading, so do now!

In her post, Valerie offers a great description of what’s going on with each of her kids. They’re an inspiration! Here’s what I love most in what she says:

There are so many little things that really have all struck me as common sense when I have read them in the Babywise books that we have implemented that have helped my children grow so far into the delightful people they are. They amaze me each day. I am excited to see them grow and see all they will become. They are equipped with tools to do what they need to do and I have no doubt they will continue to amaze me in the future.

I agree!

Babywise Week: Having Babies Close Together

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It’s Babywise Friendly Blog Network (BFBN) week! Today, we’re featuring a post from Rachel at A Mother Far From Home. Rachel has three kids under age 2.5, and credits Babywise for bringing order and peace to what could otherwise be a stressful and chaotic situation. This week is a tribute to Babywise. We’ll all be discussing what we believe to be the (amazing) benefits of Babywise.

I cannot imagine what Rachel’s life must be like. I’m a quiet person and I enjoy my peace and quiet. My kids are three years apart, and at age 6 and 9, they’re fairly independent. They’re still incredibly noisy, but that’s beside the point.

I’ll discuss my favorite points of Babywise later in the week, but one of my absolute favorite things that Babywise gives our kids is a sense of security. They know what to expect. They know when to expect it. They know that they don’t need to walk on eggshells or live at the the whims of their parents. Here’s what Rachel says about it:

Babywise uses a disciplinary system that helps children learn to trust their parents and draw security from this. Food, sleep, other needs are met in a timely fashion before circumstances become dire. Children are held accountable for their actions and trained thoroughly on what’s expected of them.

This is so true. I honestly cannot thank the Ezzos enough for writing Babywise and being so diligent in helping well-meaning parents figure out their kids’ needs!

Aiming for Excellence Not Perfection

Excellence vs perfectionBy Rachel Norman, A Mother Far from Home 

I think many of us mothers are doers. If something needs to be done then we do it. If a decision needs to be made then we make it. Often Type A Babywise mothers (not all Babywise mothers are Type A, of course) are driven to achievement and are quite goal-oriented. While I think this is an excellent quality – it is very hard to drum this up if you don’t already have it – it can also be a risk factor in raising perfectionists.

According to the Birth Order Book, firstborn children tend towards perfectionism. Their first and primary role models are adults who do things perfectly to their inexperienced eye. Parents are often a lot harder and more demanding of a first child as well, and this contributes.

I think it’s important and our duty as parents to teach our children to strive for excellence, however, we want to be sure we aren’t expecting perfection or helping them to become perfectionists which will cause them difficulties later on in life.

1.    They are accepted based on their position not their performance.

I talk about this in my “How to keep your kids out of counseling” series, but children need to know they are loved simply because they belong to you. Whether or not they color in the lines perfectly or know their numbers in Spanish has nothing to do with how you treat them. If they are unsure of your unwavering love then they will feel the need to perform well to earn it, and this will lead them to becoming fearful perfectionists.

2.    Require completion not perfection.

I don’t know about you, but with small children I find it hard to get them to finish a task completely, much less do it perfectly. When aiming to instil the value of hard work and excellence in children we need to make sure we are teaching them to be starter finishers, but not requiring them to do it perfectly. My husband struggles with perfectionism, and can feel paralyzed by fears, worries and apprehensions on an issue before he even gets off the starting block. He absolutely doesn’t want to pass this on to our children so we encourage them to start – just start – the matter at hand, and then to finish it.

3.    Don’t redo things for them.

I used to think I’d want to go behind my children and redo their work so that it’d be up to my “standard.” Now, with 3 children 2 years and under, I am just so grateful they do things to help me that I’d never dream of it. I’m sure the temptation will return later, but I am going to work on it. My daughter’s daily chore is folding towels and sheets. After only watching me a few times she really picked up the basics well, but of course they are a bit untidy and don’t stack well. I leave them as is and put them away. When at all possible, I don’t redo their work or add unnecessarily to it. As they get older they will take this as a sign that you think their effort wasn’t enough. At best this will make them not want to contribute, at worst they’ll feel they aren’t up to snuff. Note: this is not to be confused with purposefully doing shoddy work.

4.    Evaluate your own personality.

If you are like me (and life will be so much easier for you if you aren’t) then you are ambitious, driven and slightly neurotic. I know this and therefore assume I probably require a little too much of my children. If you are easy-going, carefree and more go with the flow, you probably require too little. This is a generalization, but one I think generally true. Those who aren’t required to push through and complete often get paralyzed before beginning or mid way through a project because they’ve never learned the joy of completion. If you’re carefree you’ll need to make sure you don’t err on this side. Those who are pushed through to a standard of unattainable excellence will become driven to prove they are worthy. Mothers who are pushers need to avoid this extreme.

We want our children to work hard, do their best, and enjoy the feeling of success. However, we don’t want to push them in a way that makes them feel they need to earn our love and approval by how perfect their performance is. If your children are old enough, ask them if you are guilty of this. If they are still young, be careful to help them complete tasks with care, but don’t require perfection.

My boss is a career mentor and is very fond of saying that, most of the time, 80% is good enough. Not all the time, no. But most of the time, yes. Now I’m not encouraging us to tell our children to aim for 80%, but when they reach it, let’s let that be okay most of the time.

Rachel blogs at A Mother Far from Home where she seeks to help other mothers raise wise children of strong character without losing their minds in the process.

Tips for Starting Babywise

 By Emily Parker, Journey of Parenthood

I have had several new mommy friends come to me recently asking how to actually get started with establishing a schedule with their newborns. Babywise recommends feeding on demand until 2-3 weeks old. I totally agree with this, but I also started from birth (yes, while at the hospital!) with introducing Babywise techniques with my daughter. You can read my tips for starting from birth in this post. 

Once the baby turns that magical 2-3 weeks old…then what? 

Here is how I always recommend starting to set up the baby on a schedule:

  1. Pick a start time. It’s crucial to have a start time to each day. I like to go by the book so I chose 7 am for my children since it is what all the Babywise books use in the sample schedules. It can be any time you choose, but your entire schedule revolves around this time. If your baby wakes before the awake time then it is considered a “middle of the night” feeding. Mine would often wake at 5:30. I’d feed, put back to bed, and re-wake at 7 to start my day.
  2. Wake to eat. It is okay to let the baby sleep an extra 15 min, when needed, but if it’s time to eat then you need to wake the baby! I know how hard it is but it’s important in order to establish the routine! Same with feeding early. It’s okay to feed early if you think your baby is hungry but then adjust your schedule accordingly. I always tried to hold my babies off to eat until I was within the 15 min time window of their next scheduled feeding time. Remember that with nursing you need to have 8-10 feedings a day!
  3. Eat-Wake-Sleep cycle. When the baby wakes feed him or her then keep the baby awake for some awake time. In the early days it can often be only just a few minutes but still have some awake time before putting them back to sleep. The only time you don’t do this is in the middle of the night. After the last scheduled feeding for the day then put the baby to bed for the night and cross fingers they let you sleep! When the baby wakes for the night feeding keep it dark and quiet and try to keep them in sleepy mode as much as possible. Don’t do any awake time before putting them back to their nighttime sleep!
  4. Continue to focus on full feedings. During the first few weeks I always encourage new moms just to work hard to get the baby to take a full feeding. Do whatever you have to in order to keep him or her awake while they eat!!! It’s important to continue to do this once the schedule is in place. It will help make sure the baby will stay nice and full (and happy!) until the next feeding time! By this age most babies fall into a natural 2 1/2 – 3 hours between feedings (you calculate that time from the start of the first feeding to the start of the next one).
  5. Keep the sleep hierarchy in mind. This is a big thing for me! Reading this post from Valerie’s blog was truly a life saver. The most important goal is for the baby to SLEEP during sleep times. Ideally you want the baby to be in their crib to sleep but if you have to use the swing, help hold the baby to go back to sleep, etc. then do it at this age in order to make sure sleep happens! My goal was to always keep the baby in the crib if I could so if they woke early I’d go in and simply touch them or make a quiet sound (“shhh”). If that didn’t work then I’d pick up and comfort and put back down once they stopped crying. If that didn’t work then I’d try the swing. If that didn’t work then I’d try me holding them until they went to sleep. I tried to “interfere” as little as possible but kept the ultimate goal of sleep in mind!
  6. Know the “sleepy cues.” My daughter was a slow nurser and would, literally, only have a few brief minutes of awake time after nursing before she went back to sleep. If your baby yawns, gets fussy, rubs eyes, etc. (here is a great post on sleep cues!) then it means get them to the bed and fast! If you miss the sleepy window then you have a baby who is overtired and overstimulated and who probably won’t sleep.
  7. Have a good sleep environment. Make the place where the baby sleeps for naps as much like the night sleep conditions as you can. Get black out curtains to keep the room dark. Use a swaddle if you use one at night. Do the same routine before each nap (such as sing a short song, etc.). Have a form of white noise that you use every time the baby is sleeping. By keeping the pre-sleep ritual consistent at all sleep times the baby will learn when they get swaddled and you start singing that song then it’s time for them to sleep!
  8. Stay home. I know for many people it’s a big sacrifice not to be out and about. I tell family and friends to get their fill of our new babies during the first couple weeks because once it’s time to set up the schedule, we get strict about it! Just like with anything else in life, the more consistent you are with keeping the routine for your baby, the more successful you will be. At this stage the goal is sleeping through the night and it will happen sooner if you work hard these early days to get the schedule in place!
  9. Don’t cry it out. I think often Babywise gets a bad rap about cry it out but at this age it’s not something you need to be concerned with at all. If your baby is crying at the start of nap then 90% of the time it’s probably because the baby is overtired/overstimulated. Help the baby get to sleep (although it’s fine to let them fuss a bit and see if they will fall asleep on their own too!) and know that next nap to make sure to put them to bed earlier! I like to write down when my baby shows sleep cues and try to actually start the bedtime routine process prior to the time when they start to show signs of being tired. That way they are ready to get in the bed exactly at the right time! You also don’t need to do cry it out mid-nap yet. Again, the sleep hierarchy! If the baby wakes mid-nap then go in and soothe to get them back to sleep!
  10. Know the Wonder Weeks. If you’ve never heard of Wonder Weeks then you will be SO glad I just told you about them! It’s so, so accurate! It is times when your baby is going through developmental leaps and knowing when they occur helps to know when your baby might struggle with sleep and be fussier than normal. During Wonder Weeks I did a lot more comforting than usual and just helped my babies get through the stage, once it passed things went back to normal with no issues.
  11. Cluster feed and dream feed. I do a combo of Babywise schedule along with the scheduling recommended in the book The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems. I have my feeding times in the evenings closer together. This is typically a fussy time of the day any way for little ones so why not just keep them happy and fed? Plus by “stocking up” on eating close to bedtime, it helps the baby stay full longer in the night. The sample schedule in Babywise has a “late evening” feeding. This is also known as the “dream feed.” You wake the baby to eat, but you don’t have any awake time following this scheduled feeding. While I do a dream feed when first starting to schedule, I do think at a certain point it can cause issues with solid sleep. Both of my children, so far, slept through the night at 8-9 weeks old and it happened for the first time on nights I accidentally slept through the dream feed. Therefore, I typically stop doing them around that age!

Here is a sample schedule from when my daughter was two-three weeks old:

  • 7:00: start of the day, eat
  • 8:00-8:30: awake time then down for nap
  • 10:00: eat
  • 11:00-11:30: awake time then down for nap
  • 1:00: eat
  • 2:00-2:30: awake time then down for nap
  • 4:00: eat
  • 5:00-5:30: awake time then down for nap
  • 6:00: eat (this is a cluster feed, I would feed her close together in the evenings to help her load up on food and stay full for the night time. The evenings are also THE fussiest time of the day at this age so it makes sense to feed her and keep her happy!)
  • 7:00-7:30: awake time then down for nap
  • 8:00: do bedtime ritual (massage or bath) then eat. Put her straight to bed after this feeding
  • 10:30: wake her up for her “dream feed” (this is one extra feeding before we go to bed to, again, help her stock up and hopefully sleep through the night).
  • Feed whenever wakes during the night (typically around 3:30ish)

When I first started Babywise with my first baby I had such a hard time because I felt like the book didn’t go into enough detail. I didn’t have a lot of people I knew personally who used Babywise principals to help me so I’m very thankful I found resources online. My main resources was Chronicles of a Babywise Mom. There is also a great Google Group set up where you can ask questions and a panel of fellow Babywise moms will help answer them! It’s a wonderful tool! Of course any of the Babywise Friendly Blog Network bloggers are fabulous resources as well and I know I personally love to help whenever I can!

Here are some other blog posts that may also help you get started:

Managing Toddler Behavior During the Holidays

toddler behaviorBy Claire Westbrook, My Devising

As we approach the fun Christmas season, many of us find ourselves wrapped up in the chaos of our holiday schedule. Or maybe you’re staying home. If that’s the case, you may be avoiding all of this chaos. But if you’re traveling, whether an hour or a day-long car ride or a flight, things can be crazy.

This will only be my 3rd Christmas as a mom. I have a 2-year-old and it’s amazing how quickly the relaxing holidays can become full of stress. (I talked specifically about surviving the holidays with a newborn here if that’s closer to the phase you’re in.) When it comes to toddlers, it’s all about behavior. Duke’s behavior can either make or break how much I enjoy a certain situation. In my limited experience, I’ve found a few things to be true about managing toddler behavior when it’s not a typical day-to-day scenario.

SLEEP

When it comes to behavior, in my experience, I link it mainly to sleep. Sure, there are the occasional days of teething or sickness that can send a toddler into crazy land making us moms think, “Where did my sweet angel go?” But on a normal day, sleep is the bottom line. So when it comes to the holidays, I think this is the first place to go.

Honestly, you just can’t budge on it. If Duke, my son, doesn’t get his normal 12 hours of night sleep and at least 2 hours of nap time, he is a different person. He is whiny, defiant, and needy. So if it means I have to lug all of Duke’s essential nap gear to someone’s house so he can get a decent nap, then I will. If I have to leave places early to get him to bed at a decent hour, then I will. It’s worth the extra effort. When Duke is happy and well-rested, I am happy and well-rested.

DISCIPLINE/RULES

I think it’s best to keep rules the same, whether in my house or in someone else’s. If Duke can’t sit on our coffee table, he can’t sit on his Mimi’s either. I find that the more I let go of Duke’s structure, the crazier his behavior gets and more he tests me. Keeping it consistent and normal is best.

EATING

This is one area worth budging on. During the holidays, many times our eating schedules get a bit wonky. If your toddler is like mine, we have 3 meals a day at very normal times. But once the holidays hit, we’re faced with more brunch-ish hours for breakfast, late lunches, or early dinners. So when the kid is hungry, I pretty much let him eat.  Since everything is off, I can’t really expect his appetite to be the same as it is every other day. If you’re snacking throughout the day, then your toddler will probably want to as well.

What works for you? How do you maintain structure and manage your toddler’s behavior during the holiday chaos?

Claire is a stay-at-home mom to her 2-year-old son, Duke. She enjoys teaching piano lessons, songwriting, and blogging at My Devising.

Babywise Week: When Your Day Is Child-Centered

It’s Babywise Blog Network (BFBN) Week again! All week, we’ll be featuring blog posts from other Babywise-friendly blogs. The schedule is as follows:

Today, we hear from Rachel at A Mother Far From Home. Rachel talks about how difficult it can be to keep the family focused on the family when our days are consumed with taking care of our children. With three kids under age three, Rachel is definitely in the season where her days are all about taking care of the little ones. As her kids age, as mine have (now 6 and 9), she’ll come to realize that it’s easier to avoid being child-centered since kids become more independent.

But no matter our kids’ ages, it can still be difficult to make the family a priority (over the child). Rachel offers a few tips on what we can do:

1) Know the season

2) Focus on the collective

3) Let the collective benefit the individual

4) Teach manners

And even when we’re focused on avoiding child-centered parenting, I think it’s okay to talk about the kids with our spouses. Date nights probably shouldn’t be consumed with a discussion about the kids, but certainly, at the end of the day, it’s fine to chat with our husbands about the kids. Here’s what Rachel has to say about this:

“I won’t lie, at the end of the day the only thing I really want to talk about with my husband is the kids. What they did. What they didn’t do. Why I wanted to squeeze the life out of them hug them really tight. It’s how I process.”

Head on over to A Mother Far From Home to read Rachel’s post.

Babywise Week: Babywise Helps the Marriage

It’s Babywise Blog Network (BFBN) Week again! All week, we’ll be featuring blog posts from other Babywise-friendly blogs. The schedule is as follows:

Today’s spotlight is on Emily from Journey of ParenthoodAs many Babywise parents might agree, Emily reminds us that the Babywise principles are what help us to maintain a family-centered home. She says:

“This is why I’m so, so thankful for Babywise. I believe, fully, that Babywise principles have helped keep my love with my husband in tact! We keep our marriage at the core of our family.”

She also discusses the trap that many moms can fall into. When our babies need us and look up to us, it’s easy to want to be more of a mom than a wife. In our children’s eyes, we are perfect. It’s a different story with our spouses, who don’t always forgive our faults. Here’s how Emily phrased it:

“My children are so sweet. And cuddly. And they love me so completely and fully. They forgive my shortcomings in an instant. They race into my arms and shower me with praises. I am their hero. I can do no wrong.”

I know the feeling. Even now, my kids, who are 6 and 9, still do this with me. I’ll run to the store and be gone for 20 minutes, and when I get home, they run into my arms as if I’ve been gone for 20 days. It’s a nice feeling, but it can also be a trap that encourages us to make our kids the center of our world.

Check out Emily’s blog at Journey of Parenthood to read her post.

Babywise Week: More on the Family-Centered Home

It’s Babywise Blog Network (BFBN) Week again! All week, we’ll be featuring blog posts from other Babywise-friendly blogs. The schedule is as follows:

If you haven’t noticed, the Babywise Friendly Blog Network is growing! We have two great bloggers to talk about today! Claire from My Devising and Elaine from Faithfully Infertile both offer more thoughts and tips on maintaining a family-centered home and avoiding child-centeredness.

I love what Elaine has to say about how Babywise and routines create order out of chaos and give us time to focus on our families. Here’s my favorite quote from her post:

“There is a time for everyone to eat, a time for everyone to sleep, a time for play, a time for learning and a time for exploring the great outdoors. There is a time for me to take care of household chores — to make sure the laundry is done, the dishes are washed and put away, the house is organized in way that creates order and peace to our days and not chaos and turmoil. There is a time for us to spend together as a family, there are times for us to spend one-on-one time with our children and there is a time for us to spend as a couple so we can make sure through it all we are staying connected as a couple.”

Claire has a great discussion on the transitions from single woman to wife and wife to mom. I like what she says about dads getting lost in the fog when baby arrives:

“And just when you think you’ve figured the new baby thing out, you remember something.  There’s a guy over there that’s helping me with stuff and I think I’m in love with him but I can’t quite remember.  Wife can easily get consumed with all things baby and husband can easily get lost in the fog of it all.  Working on your marriage while doing the baby thing is tricky.”

I think this can happen at any point in a child’s life. Mom may be nursing a newborn or shuttling her teenagers from soccer practice to piano lessons. But the idea is the same: there’s no place for dad. And when there’s no place for dad, he feels alienated and alone. We cannot let our kids take our spouse’s place.

Head on over to My Devising and Faithfully Infertile to read their great posts!

Babywise Week: Put Your Marriage First for the Child’s Sake

Does your child come between you and your spouse?

It’s Babywise Blog Network (BFBN) Week again! All week, we’ll be featuring blog posts from other Babywise-friendly blogs. The schedule is as follows:

This week, many of us are writing on the topic of child-centered parenting. It’s a basic yet fundamentally important principle of the Ezzos’ parenting ideals. They tell us that we are to welcome children into the family without making them the center of it. The husband and wife relationship must stay intact, and we should remain husband and wife even as we become mom and dad. I wholeheartedly believe in this.

First, let me grab a quote from Growing Kids God’s Way that tells you what the Ezzos say:

“We know the tragedy that can befall a family when basic principles of parenting are violated. We have counseled mothers and fathers who, with the best of intentions, started their parenting with love and nurturing only to see their dreams of a beautiful family reduced to a nightmare of survival…. There are two related evils that threaten successful parenting and lead to the demise of the family. The first is downplaying the significance of the husband-wife relationship in the parenting process, and the second is falling into the trap of child-centered parenting,” (Growing Kids God’s Way, p. 31).

I don’t think any parent would tell you that parenting is a piece of cake. Sure there are kids who sleep well as babies and are innately obedient as toddlers, but even those kids require that parents change their way of life. And since parenting can be so difficult, it is bound to put a strain on the marriage. In fact, many times, parents believe that divorce is what is best for the child.

Let me insert a disclaimer: I believe there are many times when divorce is the only option. This is typically in the case of abuse, yet abuse takes on many disguises. If a parent is so beaten down, physically or emotionally, that he or she cannot live a healthy life, happy and secure in their own skin, then divorce may be the right choice. Even in this case, however, I believe every attempt should be made to improve the health of the marriage before seeking divorce.

Now, back to those of us who are happily married, there are many reasons why it’s important to put the marriage first. As already mentioned, chief among the risks of child-centered parenting is the damage it could do to the marriage. Another risk is that it can lead to self-centeredness. The Ezzos say, “The result [of putting the child first] is a society consumed with child-centeredness which is the precursor to self-centeredness,” (Growing Kids God’s Way, p. 31). What’s more, by putting the child first, we aren’t modeling a healthy, happy marriage. It’s important for kids to see how two happily married people show their love for each other.

But beyond this, the main thought that I want to get across in this post is that putting the marriage first is for the child’s benefit. It may seem backwards, but putting the child second is actually putting him first.

I have a few Facebook friends who post inspirational quotes from notable people. I usually enjoy these quotes until they broach the subject of parenting. Often, these quotes say something like, “everything I do I do for my child,” or “my child is my universe.” These quotes get to the core of what it means to be child-centered. And though the people who post these quotes are well intentioned, I don’t think they understand that making their child the reason for their existence is actually detrimental to the child.

What a child needs most–in addition to love, care, and devotion–is a stable foundation. For all the reasons that we put our babies on routines, stability is comforting to a child. When two parents make their marriage the priority, the child knows that the foundation upon which his family rests is solid and secure. On the other hand, when the child is made to be the foundation of the family, life is on shaky ground. It’s anything but comforting for a child to be the ground on which the family rests.

The Ezzos explain it well. This is a lengthy quote, but it’s good, so bear with me.

“As professionals, we cannot overstate how necessary a healthy husband-wife relationship is to the emotional well-being of a child…. Strong marriages create a sense of certainty. When there is harmony in the husband-wife relationship, there is an infused stability within the family. A strong marriage provides a haven of security for children as they grow…. Children know intuitively, just as you and I knew when we were growing up, that if something happens to Mom and Dad, their whole world will collapse. If the parents’ relationship is always in question in the mind of a child, then that child tends to live his life on the brink of emotional collapse. In contrast, when a child has confidence in his parents’ relationship, he is emotionally free to get on with his life,” (Growing Kids God’s Way, p. 37).

Now, I’m not saying that making the marriage top priority is easy, especially when our kids are little and demand so much of our attention. Plus, it’s fun to live life through our children’s eyes and give them all that we can. But it’s so important to keep this in check. Do whatever you can to promote the health of your marriage. Practice couch time, go on dates, and frequently tell your child that his request will have to wait while you tend to your spouse. Find opportunities in your day to make sure your child understands that Mommy or Daddy comes first. As you do so, remind yourself that it’s all in the name of stability and security for the child.

 

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