A married couple can agree in the majority of areas of their lives together, but if they don’t stay aligned in their parenting, the entire family will feel the stress. What happens when spouses disagree in their roles as parents?
Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.Psalm 127:3-5
Scripture teaches that children are a blessed heritage, but culture doesn’t always agree with that perception. Oftentimes, children are seen as a burden instead of a blessing. In your marriage, you must consider what God’s Word says regarding children and what your spouse thinks about raising a family together.
Here are some parenting perceptions that will alter the way you go about raising a family.
Example vs. Exception
How would you describe your family life growing up and how would you want to change that for your family?
Even if you have the same amount of siblings that your spouse has, your childhoods had differences. In each of your homes growing up, you saw things that were positive and potentially negative as well. Have you ever considered how your upbringing will alter the way you embark regarding your own parenting? Were your parents an example that you want to emulate? Or do you hope you are an exception to the family dynamic that has become customary in your family tree? Make sure that you discuss what your expectations are with your spouse based on the good, bad, and indifferent things you saw growing up under your parents.
Burden vs. Blessing
What is your perspective on having children?
Do you see raising children as a burden or a blessing? You may be unsure until you actually get to know your children, but Scripture teaches that children are an undeniable gift from the LORD. There is not a gift like them. As you unpack this gift, it is best that you consult the owner’s manual of what God expects of you as a parent to ensure all systems are operating properly. Even though parenting will have its challenges, you need to ensure that your perspective on parenting is aligned with God’s perspective.
Minimum vs. Maximum
Do you agree on how many children is a “quiver full?”
When the psalmist said that someone is blessed if they fill their quiver with children, most literalists wish that a specific number would have been included in those instructions. How many children qualify as a full quiver? In God’s great grace and wisdom, he doesn’t get specific. I believe it is because every person has a different size quiver and every arrow is not exactly the same size. Some people are simply capable of handling more than others, and some relationships require more than others. While we do not have an exact number of how many children you should have, we do know God’s heart that we should emulate in seeing children as gifts. In any other area of life, the more gifts, the better.
Defense vs. Discipleship
Is your goal behavior management or biblical discipleship?
In your parenting, will you be playing defense so that they don’t do anything too consequential or will you be focused on discipleship to help them become who they ought to be? These two directives are not the same at all. One is all about avoiding consequences and the other is all about pursuing Christ. Many religious parents teach a frustrating type of behavior modification for the purpose of others’ approval rather than a biblical obedience springing out of a heart for God.
Milestone vs. Maturity
How do we know when our parenting roles change?
One of the greatest challenges in parenting is knowing how and when to pivot. Babies need a certain type of parenting, but grown adults need something very different. In fact, each child, at every stage of development, does benefit from parents, but at every stage, the need for parents should change. If it doesn’t change, then the parents aren’t doing their job to make these children God-following, responsible adults. As your children go through certain milestones, you must have the end goal of maturity in mind. It is not simply seeing them attain certain milestones; it is about working toward a growing sense of thorough maturity in the most important areas.
Travis Agnew serves as the Lead Pastor of Rocky Creek Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is Just (About) Married.