Marriage and Kids

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Marriage doesn’t necessarily mean having children. However, if you choose to not have kids, you don’t know what you are missing……or maybe you do. Children are a blessing from God. However, the decision to bring them into the world should never be taken lightly. They can bring great joy and at times great anxiety and stress. As with everything in marriage (we are in this post assuming marriage before children), raising children works best when a couple is in constant communication and works together.

The subject of raising children seems extremely appropriate today. In the near future, our middle child, Michelle, is planning on marrying her fiancé Alex. While she will no doubt yell at me for picking her as an example, the great thing about blogging is that I don’t have to ask her permission before posting. I know; I am being evil. She just turned thirty; she can take it. She will probably also yell at me for telling her age.

Honestly, I am kidding. Michelle won’t be upset at all (or only a little) by this post. You see, I know her pretty well. Good parents do get to know their children over time. Michelle is a strong, smart well adjusted young woman. She is currently working toward becoming what Crystal and I always felt she should be, a teacher. Her patience, aptitude and love of children will make her an ideal teacher for young children.

Personality has a lot to do with her decision, but let me take a moment to reflect on why she is ready to make important life choices. I believe that the major responsibilities of parents is not raising children but preparing children to become adults. When children come into the world, they are totally dependent on their parents. When they leave the home, they need to be ready to make good decisions and be capable of functioning on their own. Parenting is a process of slowly letting go. You need to give training, and over time, more freedom and more responsibility to your child. That may be difficult at times, because the process also involves discipline and, occasionally, rebellion. However, you must consider what would happen if your child doesn’t learn discipline and respect at home. Life isn’t always as forgiving out in the world as it is in a good home.

I still remember the day I brought Michelle home from the St. Francis Hospital in Blue Island, Illinois. I used my patented football carry. At thirty one years old, I still played a little touch football with friends. I almost never dropped a ball or a baby. That little girl had us from day one. She came out smiling and laughing. Her two and a half year old sister, Liz, couldn’t wait to hold her. It was soooo cute (that’s how they get you). The cute sucks you in and makes you love and care for them.

Of course, it was less cute a few years later when sisters started fighting for supremacy. You know how it goes. ‘Elizabeth poked me!’ ‘Michelle touched my stuff’, etc., etc., etc. Then there are the teenage years when they think they know everything. Basically it’s like watching a roller coaster. They go up and down. One minute they act like a thirty year old, the next like they’re three. It may be a lot of things, but it is definitely no longer cute. That’s parenting.

When she was nine years old in the 4th grade, we decided to home school Michelle for a year. Crystal did most of the subjects; I got science and phys. ed.  I brought a box of science experiments for young people and had fun demonstrating scientific principles. Some wound up being a little over her head, and if they didn’t make noise, flash or change color quickly, she tended to lose interest. However, when she got back in the school system, she did just fine in math and science. So I count that as a win.

As far as phys. ed. goes, we threw balls, ran bases, shot hoops, etc. I even made up an obstacle course on the school playground behind our house. I also had her run a few blocks with me. A few years later,  she started to join me on my runs. That kind of became our thing. I had always run a few miles to stay in shape and relieve stress after work. While she was periodically hard to get going, once we started she did fine. She could never quite master her breathing though. The problem was she could never stop talking. Some years later, her younger sister, Lisa, took her place. Lisa had the same breathing problem as her sister. One thing I learned about girls is they never run out of words. While I liked to run to relieve stress, Michelle (and later Lisa) needed to get every thought out of her head. Don’t get me wrong, I did participate. Whenever I could calm a fear or give some direction, I took advantage. That’s also part of parenting.

Today, Elizabeth, who may have been our most rebellious teen, sees things a little differently. With four children of her own, she now asks how we did it. She can talk to her mom for hours, but when something breaks or there are money or health issues she asks, sometimes rather panicky, ‘can I talk to dad.’ Just because a child grows up doesn’t mean your obligation is over.

In a nut shell, that’s parenting! It can put stress on you and your marriage like you won’t believe. We kept them alive (rule #1 on parenting), and did our best to prepare them for life. On the positive side, at times raising children can add a new level of joy and accomplishment to your life, which you can’t understand until it happens.  My best and only advice is, make sure your marriage and communications are solid before taking that particular leap. Also pray about it. Once you have them, believe me, you will never stop praying for them.


My Girls


Category: Make Marriage Last

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