How often do you spend time with your children? Ok, when was the last time you spent quality time with your children? I don’t mean you being in the same room with them, I mean doing something with them that they consider fun regardless of their age. Many parents hardly ever sit down and dialogue or engage in activities with their children. They are always on the run, going to work, or coming from work, doing other activities that matter to them. Parenting is a great responsibility that requires us to balance our time well. And one of the best ways to show your children love is to “hang out” with them. It also gives them a chance to know you better. If you have toddlers, let loose and roll on the floor with them; let them jump on you, watch some cartoons, just relax! If you have teens, find out what’s going on with them, how school is, how life is in general, ask them questions and give them room to speak. Play soccer, baseball, whatever they enjoy, with them. Get interested in what matters to them. Interact with each one according to their level. While still being the parent, you can still make room to be a friend with boundaries. Most parents don’t know their children and vice versa because they don’t bother to spend quality time with them and they are so focused on being a parent, declaring rules and regulations every minute. If you create a wall between your child and yourself, they would look for a listening ear (mostly negative) outside. Maximise the time you have with them by sowing scriptural based seeds into them and making fond memories because before you know it, they would be out of the house and you will feel their absence. Even if they are out of the house now, find a way to bond with them. And stop pushing it off till tomorrow; who knows tomorrow? Once you finish reading this, call your child(ren) up to simply chat or plan a day of bonding together. Whatever you do, today is a good day to be a friendly parent!
The best thing you and I can ever be to anyone in any area of life, is an example. A POSITIVE example! Apostle Paul told Timothy something profound in 1 Timothy 4:12; he said “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity”. When we are anything contrary to the above, it contradicts what God expects of us. An example is simply one who is serving as a pattern of a specific kind. It is also a person or way of behaving that is considered as a model for other people to copy. Sounds good, doesn’t it? Well, that should be YOU! It also applies to our family life. As a husband, strive to be an example to your wife and children, and to other men around you, showing them what indeed a man and a husband should be. As a wife, be an example to your husband and children, and other women around you, showing them what a woman and a wife indeed should be. Be an example to your co-workers, to acquaintances, to unbelievers, etc. An example is separate from the rest; it proves that even though things have been a particular way, it can be positively different. Stop thinking and talking like everybody else. People should see you and know that the difference is clear! Don’t take pride in being a source of concern to your spouse and family. They may say “all women or all men are the same, but she/he (speaking of you) is one of a kind, she/he is different, she/he is notable, she/he is striking, she/he is outstanding”. Let your family life be an example to others who are watching you. Your age, status, etc has nothing to do with it; an example, someone who is different is someone who cannot be ignored. No matter what others are saying about their own marriages, their own spouses, their own experiences, never allow yourself to join in the pack. Be the one that proves to them that marriage and family life is indeed for better living and not the opposite. Positive examples tend to be the minority, but don’t let that deter you. Remain focused on proving God’s concept of marriage and family life to the fullest. The good news is that His mercy and grace to help us is fully available!
Don’t you just love it when a little child shows you a cute picture they’ve drawn? My son and daughter do this a lot. They come up to their dad or myself to show off their masterpiece with such glowing pride and they never fail to tell you the story behind it. And if your kids are like mine, that story may take a while. They introduce each figure: mummy, daddy, aunty, ‘grandma’, ‘grandpa’, and maybe some other relatives and friends. The most interesting part of their story is what they have to say say and how close to the truth their observations and analysis are. One child I met showed me a picture of a house he had drawn with a dark cloud over it. I asked him why and he said “there is never any sunshine in my house”. That touched me so deep. Children have the gift of telling the the world what their parents think is hidden from everyone. One child might say with a mischievous snicker that daddy and mummy love kissing all the time. Another child might say with fear and pain in their eyes that daddy and mummy hit each other and say mean things to each other. Another child may even tell you that mummy and daddy never ever talk to each other. One day, my daughter gave me a picture she drew of mummy and daddy holding hands and hugging. She said “that is all you and daddy ever do”. That actually made me glad and I turned to my husband and said, “if you want to know the state of any marriage, the best people to ask are the children”. Mum and dad will try to cover up but the children, particularly if they are young, will always tell it like it is. And when they do, they leave their audience either laughing or cringing. Children are perceptive and impressionable. Therefore, we need to ensure that we employ God’s grace in setting the scene for them to learn what a godly, loving home looks and feels like. What they learn from their home life has a great impact on them and provides a model for their future. They are bound to act out or react to much of what they have seen to some extent. Your child is a actually an artist with many images of you, your spouse and the family in their head. Even as they get older and begin to chart their course in life, they still have memories etched in their minds of how the family life was. Ensure they have retained a good collection worthy of a public showing, and deemed an excellent legacy.
I love seeing women (single and married, young and old) in various industries who are setting the pace and blazing trails all over the world, particularly those who are bonafide christians and are not afraid to show it. It really goes to show that there is more to women than the box of ‘wife and mother’ that many of us have been forced to stay within. While both roles are VERY IMPORTANT, these women prove that there is so much inside of us to offer the world and they have refused to let it lie dormant. It really challenges me and encourages me to keep going after what God has designed me for and ask him for help to balance all elements of my life appropriately. While I am helping my children shine in life, and while I am ensuring I am my hubby’s best asset in life and ministry, I must also find fulfilment in my place of assignment. I encourage you dear woman, to do the same. You see that proverbs 31 woman? She is very much alive in each of us. Most women look at her and say “she is just too perfect” and we automatically disqualify ourselves. However, remember 2 Corinthians 3:18? We, who have the veil removed, are transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory. That means the bible simply has given us a picture of what and who we can become if we keep maximising the grace He releases. Don’t allow yourself to be limited or come up as second class. Shining as a star is not reserved for the men. A quote that has stuck with me since the day I heard it says – “in our society, the women who break down barriers are those who ignore limits.” I love that! Be confident in who you are and be ready to ignore the limits that have held you back!
Some time ago, when the church organised a Valentine’s Day dinner, the tickets sold out and a lady came to me in tears asking for an exception to be made for her, because in her own words “this is the only time this year my husband would ever take me out or do anything romantic with me”. I had heard that statement before from some other women and even still do till today, but for whatever reason, her own particular case struck me; maybe because she was in tears. I couldn’t help but ensure she got the tickets. But then it got me thinking, how many husbands actually pay attention to their wives? Do you show your wife your appreciation in word and in deed? Are you attending to her hearts desires? The excuse I hear most times is that the focus of the husband is to provide for the family, he is too busy trying to take care of her and the children, etc. While that is valid, no excuse is good enough to neglect your wife. You may have heard that a woman is like a flower, and just like a flower, if she does not get the required attention; she never blooms, but rather withers up. Unfortunately, that is how some wives look and feel due to the lack of consistent attention from their husbands. Examine yourself as a husband and make all the necessary changes to see your wife flourishes again. No matter how busy you claim to be, you can never be too busy for whatever is important to you. Remember that it is your duty to “love your wife, as Christ loved the church….that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So men ought to love their wives….” (Ephesians 5:25-28). Christ cannot make us (the church) look glorious, and without spot or blemish, without paying attention to us, so take your cue from Him. Do you remember how you went out of your way to get her attention so you could date her? It didn’t take much for you to send her loving text messages, give her gifts and flowers whether it was her birthday or not, or just do simple things such as going for a walk, or spending time just to talk to each other. Ignite all that up again! Take time to help her around the house, take time to look after the children so she can rest, take time to tidy up the house every now and then; take time to ease the load on her shoulders, take time to build her up with your words. It does not make you less of a man but increases the admiration and respect she has for you. Every woman is different, so with the knowledge you have of your wife, do what you know will make her radiate, and keep her glowing. I once heard that the true index (measure) of a man’s character is the health of his wife. How radiant your wife is, tells the world all about your character!
Dr. David Oyedepo often says, “Assumption is the mother of frustration”! That is one of the realest statements I have ever heard and unfortunately it is the reality of many marriages. Many, who are married today, are over the edge in frustration, because they assumed everything before they got married; they never saw the need to talk about anything. I always remind singles that marriage is made up of a man and a woman who have had different experiences, different upbringings in life, and different stories to tell. Therefore, don’t assume that your potential spouse already knows what you know. I am reminded of a Pastor who was counseling an intending couple. He said they came to him gushing about how in love they were and how ready they were to get married. According to him, they were putting so much pressure on him so he told them they had to do something first. He gave them both a questionnaire and asked them to sit in separate rooms to complete it. When they came back to him, 90% of their answers were different. He asked them questions concerning how the home will be run such as:
- Who will do the cooking? The man stated that his potential wife would do it while her answer was that they would have a chef or cook!
- He asked about sources of income – the man stated that they will both work, she stated that she will be a stay at home wife and mother!
- He asked them how many children they hope to have – the man stated 4, she stated 1.
- He asked them where they would spend major holidays – the man stated that they will mostly be with his side of the family and she stated “with my family. We hate his family”.
Imagine that! It sounded funny but it’s the reality of many singles today. Everything is assumed.
Don’t assume that your home will be run the way you were brought up. Don’t assume that all men/women have the same viewpoint on a particular subject. Don’t assume that because your dad helped mum out in the house, your potential husband will know he should do the same. Don’t assume that because your mum did ALL the cooking, your potential wife will do the same. Don’t assume he should know this or she should know that. In fact, don’t assume that because you are from the same country, state, city, and speak the same language, you both see things the same way. Don’t assume that your in laws will automatically not be living with you (Oh my!). Never ever assume that because you are both Christians and go to the same church, you have the same understanding on crucial subject matters. Any and everything that matters to you both should be discussed and an agreement should be established concerning how your own household will be run BEFORE you sign the dotted line! Remember that two people cannot walk together without agreement (Amos 3:3).
So before marriage, please have a thorough discussion and get all the facts straight. Believe the facts and be willing to live with those facts. You will keep learning in marriage, no doubt however get to point where you can confidently say “we see eye to eye” on key matters that can affect your relationship and family. As for that couple, there were so many other questions that they did not see eye to eye on and needless to say, they did not get married. It was painful for them but quite frankly they were saved from unnecessary headaches, and ultimately perhaps a separation or divorce. Whatever you do, DON’T ASSUME ANYTHING; TALK ABOUT EVERYTHING! May the Lord help your understanding!