I know this topic is discussed to death and there are opposing ideas on whether parents should put the children first in a marriage. I’m sure you can tell by the title of this post where my head is, but I would like to share my position and train of thought on a more in depth basis. Before you read this though:
If your definition of putting the spouse first is fixing a plate for the spouse when children are hungry or somehow tending frivolous spousal demands over the needs of children, don’t even bother reading this.That’s not what we do here.
There are always variants to situations, but for the purposes of the post let’s start out with a nuclear family unit where the parents are all biological and/or legal gaurdians of the children in the unit.
The truth is, if you’re a single parent or the unit is not yet cemented through whatever commitment looks like to you and yours, this isn’t a question for you. Your child should most resolutely be first, although, many parents forget to care for themselves in parenting. They become unhealthily attached to their children (you an absolutely be too attached to you child and do them a disservice by it) that when the children are adults, the parent is unable to let the child navigate their own life.
But back the nuclear unit. In such a scenario, my spouse comes first. I don’t expect everyone to agree, but my position on this isn’t limited to the parenting position. From my point of view, the time to put the needs of my child first is in consideration of the person I choose to build their home and ultimately their life with. I am not just considering how I will parent, I consider how they will parent. I consider the possibility that while it may not be the most glittery thought, what happens if I die or the marriage ends? How will that person parent? Where will their interests be if they need to reform the unit, minus me or in addition of a third or fourth parent? I would want my husband to choose a partner to build with him to support my child or children.
My Child is a Product of my Marriage, Not the Other Way Around
I have a beautiful daughter. She is everything I imagined my own offspring to be and so much more. I know my husband feels the same way. One of the contributing factors to the existence of my child is the love and commitment my husband and I poured into each other. I didn’t just pick him as someone I loved when I decided to be his wife.
I considered his beliefs, his character and the partner than he is. Ultimately, within the consideration of these other factors, I came to the the decision was that this man is the person I want to do life with, and a part of that life journey is the creation and rearing of a tiny human that we make out of love. We would exist, whether she came into being or not. She isn’t just a person. Parenting her is a responsibility we have as individuals, as well as as a family.
Our child is a product of our love and union, not the other way around. This stable unit we’ve created was equally as important to us as individuals, before we brought a child into it. Our marriage was equally as important when it was just the two of us, as it is now that we are parents. The health of our marriage was so that we could have a strong foundation to build our family on. Two adults, maintaining the environment that will help our child to flourish.
Healthy Unions, Healthy Environment For Children to Flourish
Now that I’ve written that, I realize something else. I know the kind of parent I want to be. I want my child to be healthy, and not just by physical standards. I want my child to be emotionally and mentally healthy. That is important to me, and that was an important criteria that I needed my husband, the person I raise my child with to agree on. So many parents are of the opinion that children only need the material necessities in life.
So many parents stay in toxic, emotionally harmful and draining situations ‘for the children’. To raise them in an environment that is the product of illusion, even when the illusion is falling apart. But is that really beneficial to the child? I do not believe it is so. I believe children are far more emotional intelligent than we give them credit for and such situations are incredibly stressful on them, particularly when they see through the ruse and notice their parents’ ‘cover up‘ behaviour in their presence.
This is the white picket fence dream and life is certainly not that, but it is not lost on me either that the decision to have and raise my baby wasn’t done with a random person. It’s with someone I trust to put their two with my two, so that my child can have four. It is with someone that will pour into me as I will pour into them so that my child receives a full cup. I believe that beyond the material things, the provision of a nurturing environment is best provided with two happy healthy adults.
If we do it right, she will be the product of a happy union, and by automatic extension, a happy home.
You see, I don’t care if you are a super parent, you will never be at full capacity 100% of the time. As a mother, I often find myself doing for my husband and then my daughter. My husband because if he is supported in his mission to care for his family and I am supported (by him) in my mission to care for my family, how is our child who is at the centre of this unit not going to be supported?
Who Are You, Again?
Parenting isn’t an eighteen year gig. It’s lifelong. It’s not a destination. It’s a journey, and although the demands decrease over the life-span of the child, it never really ends. I don’t want to look up one day and realise my spouse is just the guy I raised my child with, but when they aren’t parenting activities between us, I don’t know who he is or who he became along the way.
It’s not a myth. Many marriages die when they didn’t have to because for decades one or both spouses were so completely engrossed in the journey of parenthood, they didn’t pay attention to who their spouse is. Often, the relationship dies and neither spouse notices, until the child has left home.
Again, I know that my reality may be different from that of others, but I am telling you right now, that if for any reason my child and I find ourselves in a position with the need to reconstruct our family, there is no way I am doing that with someone I cannot trust to help me build a home FOR my child.
Also, some children who know they are the singularly the most important component in scenarios can and do grow up to manipulate same, as teenagers and even adults. But, I digress.
There will always be varying positions, and the most we can and should do, is discuss our with partner (or potential partner) our position on these things. Different doesn’t always mean bad, but it can absolutely mean incompatibilty.
What do you think?