Wednesday, 04 May 2011 11:41

Modeling True Marital Love For Your Kids

Written by  Brenda Payne
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As a Christian wife and mother, I have a responsibility to love my husband biblically and to teach my children the true meaning of marital love. I cannot teach them what I do not understand. I cannot convince them of what I do not practice. If I allow my children to be informed by the culture, the view of love they will develop will be the very opposite of true love. Think about it. Most modern movies, TV shows, and songs picture marital love as something to get not give; something to feel not do; and something that is easily dissolved not fiercely protected. In fact, if I leave my children with no biblical explanation to shape their mindset and no godly example to follow, why would they get married at all? The predominant cultural view of marriage flies in the face of the sanctity of marriage found in the Scriptures. Hollywood portrays shacking up and splitting up not only as the norm, but desirable. Of course, Christians know that the eroding of marriage leads to a host of family and societal problems. So, what am I am to do as a mother who desires that my children embrace marital love as defined by the Scriptures? I can only do what I can do: teach, model and pray!

 


Are you teaching your children God’s design for marriage? If you have little children, start early with your indoctrination. After all, Disney and Nickelodeon waste no time! It’s your duty to instruct your children in God’s Word from infancy; teach the whole counsel of God including God’s design for marriage (Deut. 6:6-9). The first three chapters of Genesis are very instructive about marriage. Teach that Adam and Eve show God’s design to join a man a woman together in marriage. Show them God gave Adam the leadership role and made Eve special, to be cherished by Adam and to be his lifelong helper. Teach them that God designed marriage as a means to fill the earth with His glory and that includes parents passing the faith down to their children. Tell them that because of sin marriage is difficult. Show them the curse sin placed on marriage; men wanting to dominate women and women rebelling against men. Tell them you and your husband struggle to love each other like the Bible says because of sin and that’s why you need to trust and obey Jesus everyday! Make sure your children understand that marriage is a life-long commitment regardless of how you feel because love is a promise not a feeling. Explain Ephesians 5:21-33 to your child. Let your child know that God gave marriage as a gift and when we treat it special it is a picture of how much Jesus loves His church and how much the church loves Jesus. Don’t just have a one time conversation with your children, repeat these truths often. Give your children a biblical grid on marriage to process the overwhelming amount of unbiblical information they must filter through. But don’t just teach your younger children biblical truths, model them in your words, attitudes and actions toward your husband. Do your children see that you find joy in being your husband’s helper? Have you given them an example to follow by speaking respectfully to and about your hubby? Do they see overtures of tender affection through your words and physical contact? Would your children say you and your husband are best friends? Does your marriage demonstrate the power of the gospel as two sinful people fail, seek forgiveness and are reconciled on a regular basis? Do you share with your children how much being married has helped you mature as a Christian? Remember, your children are gaining volume of information about marriage by watching you. They are also determining the validity of God’s Word by how you practice what you preach. Even if your husband is not a Christian or acting like a Christian, there is so much you can model for your children that puts God’s glory and His truth on display.

As your children mature into young adults, they are exposed more and more to worldly wisdom concerning love, dating, sex and marriage. They have the internal desires of their corrupt nature working against God’s design. Peer influences become a major factor in short-term decision making, unfortunately annulling in their minds the reality of long-term consequences. Perhaps biblical views are further eroded by a divorce or the hypocrisy of Christian parents in a loveless marriage. How can a mother continue to impress upon her older children that God’s ways are true and right for marriage? First of all, speak honestly about dating, sex and marriage with your young adult. Make sure you and your husband are on the same page. This is a time to listen more and speak less. Ask heart probing questions that reveal if your child’s conscience is programmed to the Scriptures. Find out what your child is thinking and where your child is struggling. One of the common struggles of youth is short-sightedness so help your child see down the road. When appropriate, share your love story (or stories) and the stories of others. Share both good and bad stories and highlight the sowing and reaping principles for living in obedience and disobedience. Use the media as a tool to highlight cultural norms and consequences of sin. You will be less effective in your influence if you are critical of every song and movie than if you concentrate on holding out the beauty of God’s plan. Where you have failed in your own marriage and your child knows about it, be transparent. Don’t try to depict a perfect marriage or that you are the perfect wife…your children know better. Marital love
includes conflict and trouble, don’t sugar coat it! Teach and model the principles of forgiveness, forbearance, and commitment.

At the end of the day, all the teaching and modeling in the world will not ensure my children will embrace God’s design for marriage. If I thought of all the negative possibilities, I would surely lose hope. But I am hopeful. I do not presume upon God’s promises to be a God to me and my children, so I work to teach them and give them example (however imperfect). But overall, under, and around all of my feeble efforts, I pray daily that God will be pleased to do what I cannot--give my children a heart for Him and a passion to build a marriage for His glory.

 

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