I know I’m not the only one who finds the task of hunting down the “coolest” and most thoughtful Father’s Day present superbly difficult. Your challenge has probably been trying to find “The Thing” that perfectly encapsulates how amazing of a father your husband is. IMPOSSIBLE. Sure, there’s the Home Depot gift card, or the steak dinner, or the new grill or gadget (not painting a blanket statement on the guys, this has just been my own experience). However, none of these things ever seem to accurately express the depth of gratitude you have for your man!
I may have a solution that seems simple on the surface but can express what a Home Depot gift card cannot: Words and Actions of Affirmation and Encouragement.
Joel Wong, psychologist and author of The Psychology of Encouragement, says, “Encouragement can be defined as the expression of affirmation through language… to instill courage, perseverance, confidence, inspiration, or hope in a person within the context of addressing a challenging situation or realizing a potential.”
A great dad is living into the challenge of parenting your kiddos. And believe it or not, he probably needs affirmation more than you think he does. (And maybe even more than he thinks he does!)
I don’t know about you, but one of the ways I feel most loved is when I am acting within a challenging situation and someone on the outside takes my chin and tells me that I’m doing a good job.
Simplicity can be incredibly powerful.
So, here are 10 ways to affirm your husband as a dad:
Write down one way he has been an amazing dad for each year he has been a parent. So, if he’s been a parent for 10 years, that’s 10 pieces of encouragement!
This one is for the “physical touch” people. Either take your man’s hands, or give him a hug, or cup his face in your hands and tell him that he is killin’ it as a dad and that you’re thankful he is your partner.
Ask how you can best support him as a father. This question will show your husband that you care deeply about his needs and that you’re there to support him.
Gather your kids and tell stories about all the ways he has been an amazing father. This could become a Father’s Day tradition! Stories could include daddy-daughter dates or help with homework, etc.
Think through the hopes and dreams you had for how your husband would parent your future children. Tell him the ways he has either met or exceeded those desires.
Ask him what his highs and lows of parenting were this year, and then see what conversations this sparks. Listen to him and affirm him where needed.
Since quality conversation leads to quality sex, this feels like an appropriate lead-in. From time to time, get the kids to bed early, just so you and your husband can have some time alone together (if you know what I mean)! It will make him feel like a priority.
Challenge your kids to write down some ways they think their dad is the best. You could fold up the pieces of paper, put them in a hat or bowl, and then read them one by one at dinner time. Have your husband guess which kid wrote what!
Affirm your husband in public as well! An awesome dad friend/co-worker told me that his wife is great at standing up for him when he finds himself at the butt of a harmless joke. “When other moms might make a harmless joke at my expense, like, ‘Oh, he’s taking care of the kids tonight? Think they’ll be in one piece when you get back?’ [My wife] is pretty quick to let them know how capable I am, which tells me she has confidence in me.”
Don’t be afraid to go big for Father’s Day! Celebrate your man’s dadness with his favorite meal, or by doing something he loves to do, etc.
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Untitled-4-01-1.png8542048Anna Reeves McCutcheonhttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngAnna Reeves McCutcheon2021-06-15 14:13:532021-06-18 15:29:0610 Ways to Affirm Your Husband as a Dad
Use this day to connect and make memories with your daughter.
Okay, just between us dads, let’s be real. For some of you, Valentine’s Day is, well, kind of enjoyable. That’s alright—no judgment here!
But many guys see V-Day as a high-pressure hassle. Do I have to actually read the entire V-Day card before I buy it? Can I get away with carnations (the cheaper option) instead of roses? (They’re just going to die…) And so many different boxes of chocolates… sooooo many…
For those of us who are girl-dads, I wanna give you a different way to view and celebrate Valentine’s Day. It’s an opportunity to:
Have some fun with your daughter.
Show her how special she is to you.
Connect and have a stronger relationship.
With that, I give you 5 fun, unique ideas to have a special Daddy-Daughter Valentine’s Day. Here we go…
1. Two words: Dessert Day.
Like, make this day all about desserts. Have dessert for every meal. Take your daughter on a dessert tour of your town. Pick a few places to go during the day. Think coffee shops, bakeries, crêperies—and sample some sweets. Choose desserts that are more out of the ordinary. Share a banana split. Try out a crêpe. Munch on a macaron (it’s a cookie). Nosh on gelato. Stop in between treats to wash the sugar down, take a stroll, and have some great conversation. That’ll be a Dad-daughter Valentine’s Day she’ll always remember!
2. V-Day Goodies Scavenger Hunt.
Does your daughter like chocolate kisses? Or books? Or little toys? Hide some throughout your house and yard. Write down clues for your daughter. Make it like an Easter egg hunt, except with Valentine’s Day! End the search with a “big-ticket item” like a stuffed animal, box of chocolates, or even better… a pizza and movie night in a homemade fort with you. What a great memory to make!
3. Over-the-Top Daddy-Daughter Date.
I mean, Over. The. Top. Dress to the nines. Leave the house, then come back to “pick her up.” Bring her a corsage. Open the car door for her. Take her to a fancy dinner. (Okay… you don’t even have to spend a lot of cash. Drive her around the block, back home, and surprise her with spaghetti, pizza, or her favorite meal!) Be sure to decorate the table and play her favorite background music. And if you seriously want to go over the top, have someone be the server.
Take a stroll.
Then, hop back in the car (yes, open the car door again!), drive around the block, and drop her off at her doorstep. (Yes, you’ll go around the block, like, three times, but you’re making memories here!)
4. Musical Car Ride.
Create a favorite-song playlist. Ask your girl to write down her favorites and add some of your own fun tunes. Take her on a car ride and jam out. Open the windows and sing as loud as you can. Dance at red lights like no one’s watching. Grab some dinner in the drive-thru, but be sure to crank up the volume while you’re in line. Drive past some places that are special to you: the house you grew up in, your first apartment, where you went to school. She’ll love hearing stories about you before she came into the world in between songs. But… don’t forget to keep on singing… loudly!
5. Making Valentine’s Special for Others, Together.
Find out who needs a pick-me-up on V-Day. Deliver flowers, candy, or Valentine’s notes to family members. Bake cookies for your neighbors. Write cards to folks in the hospital or assisted living homes. Explore how you can brighten someone else’s Valentine’s Day together and extend the good memories to them.
Oh, sure, you can see Valentine’s Day as a hassle. But you can also see it as an opportunity to make memories with that special girl in your life. Your daughter will cherish those memories for the rest of her life, and your relationship will be stronger because of it.
So from one girl-dad dude to another… Happy Valentine’s Day!
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/AdobeStock_268604160-copy-e1613065838128.png7622048Chris Ownbyhttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngChris Ownby2021-02-08 13:26:002021-02-11 12:50:595 Ways Dads and Daughters Can Celebrate Valentine’s Day
“Honey, the test was positive.” When you find out you’re about to be a dad, the lack of experience can strike fear into even the most confident man. There are a few things I’ve learned after playing a part in bringing seven kids into this world that would’ve been helpful to know on the front end. [You read that right. Seven.]
Things I wish I’d known before I became a dad…
1. I didn’t have to be a hero for my kid to think I am a hero.
Your kids think you’re great, not because you’re the biggest, strongest, smartest, most powerful person in the world. They just think you are. You’re their hero because you’re Dad. You don’t have to become a great musician, make a lot of money, or be able to show them amazing tricks. Being the person who spends time with them, provides, and takes care of them cements your hero status in their eyes.
2. My words carried more weight than a giant boulder damming up a mountain stream.
Your words will build up or tear down your child. Even babies respond to their parents’ voices. Talking and reading to them as infants, teaching them as toddlers, and affirming them as adolescents—your words make an impact. The more “I love you’s,” I’m proud of you’s,” and “I’m thankful to be your dad” they hear, the more validated they’ll feel.
3. I didn’t have to know how to be a good dad before I became one.
Being a good dad is definitely something that can happen through on the job training. Even if your dad wasn’t around for you, you’re still able to be a good dad to your child. Changing diapers, building Legos, and listening to your daughter talk about her day are all skills that can be learned once your child is born. While good examples help (and every dad should seek out other dads they can talk to and get advice from), previous experience is not a requirement for you to fill the position of a good dad.
4. My kids would be giant sponges.
They watch you and they listen to you. They absorb what they see and hear. Then they follow your lead. If you fuss a lot, then they’ll fuss a lot when they’re playing with their toys. If you’re gentle, they’ll be gentle. “Do as I say and not as I do,” doesn’t work with your little ones. If you want to raise a future adult who respects others and has good relationships, be that adult.
5. Tapping into my inner child can make it easier for my kids to respect my authority.
Dads have a reputation for being playful, silly, and adventurous. There’s an essential place for this in fatherhood. It gives you parenting cred with your kids. When your kids know you like them and enjoy being around them, it will be easier for your child to respect and obey you.
Whether you knew it or not, you have everything you need to be a good dad. Be present. Pay attention to your child. Don’t let fear of failure prevent you from diving in. On the job training will help you learn everything you need to know about being a dad. And your biggest influence will also be your biggest fan—your child.
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/oscar-lennin-salazar-m-1xuy92N718o-unsplash-scaled-e1603199488131.jpg207600Reggie Madisonhttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngReggie Madison2020-10-20 09:11:422020-10-21 12:22:535 Things I Wish I’d Known Before I Became A Dad
So you’re a new dad. Congrats!! This is an exciting time. Did you get your how-to manual full of explanations and instructions? You didn’t? Hmmm, wonder what happened there? Oh wait, that doesn’t exist. If only kids came with instruction manuals. (Even if they did, would you even read it? I probably wouldn’t. Maybe that’s why the shelves I put up are crooked…)
So here you are asking the questions: What do I do now? What do I need to know? All valid questions. (We don’t want our kids to end up like those shelves!)
It’s ok, Dad—I got you! Here are some first-time dad tips as you begin this journey.
You don’t have to know everything.
It’s ok to not know everything. (Here’s a little secret, Mom doesn’t either.) Parenting is all about learning; each day brings new challenges, new adventures, new lessons. You have a partner in this so walk the road together. Embrace the journey and give yourself (and mom) lots of grace because neither of you knows it all.
Kids come in different models.
All children are different. All deliveries are different. Your experience won’t look like mine or your buddy’s, and that’s ok. Embrace this time, ask lots of questions, seek counsel from dads who have newborns. (I highly recommend talking to those dads; dads who have been in the game for a while may have forgotten those first weeks and months… sleepless nights are a real thing.)
You’re not going to know everything it takes to be a dad, but one of the most important aspects is to be present and involved. Take every opportunity to hold your newborn, swaddle, feed, talk, and read to them. This all strengthens the bond between you. (And Mom will be impressed!)
Diaper duty… you got this.
The first time I changed a diaper was the day my son was born. My philosophy was that if a kid was gonna pee on me, it’d better be one I helped create. Change lots of diapers! Changing diapers is a dirty business (often literally) but it’s nothing to fear and creates an awesome opportunity to bond with your newborn. Talk to your baby and make goofy faces at them while changing their diaper.
Feeding time… you have a role, too!
Be part of feedings. If mom is breastfeeding, you’re on diaper duty… there are those diapers again. Our routine for nighttime feedings was my wife fed and I changed the diaper. We’d alternate rocking our son for a bit. Here’s a Hero Tip: If you’re bottle-feeding, own those night feedings. This is as much about mom as the baby. She will love the time to rest. Hero Status: Unlocked.
Babies are gonna cry… that doesn’t mean you should!
Babies cry and that’s ok. What you’ll learn is that they have different cries for different reasons. You will get to know these. Make mental notes as to what sounds mean what.
Newborns are great to watch sports with.
Make your newborn part of what you love to do. My son watched tons of baseball and Moto GP races when he was little. We also took him to car shows, baseball games, and boat races. He doesn’t remember, but I can show him he was included in what I loved.
Dad jokes… everyone else is welcome.
You are a dad now, so you have a responsibility to share dad jokes every opportunity you can. Brush up on those skills, watch some YouTube videos, and be prepared for lots of eye rolls.
You’ve got this, Dad. You’ll have lots of questions and you will learn a lot in the coming weeks and months. That’s ok—fatherhood is a journey… embrace it.
For more information and tips for a first-time dad (and mom), check out our class, Oh, Baby! Online.
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/devon-divine-nMv8DMdM4Z8-unsplash-scaled-e1603199202603.jpg238600Mitchell Quallshttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngMitchell Qualls2020-10-20 09:07:482020-11-03 11:41:53Tips For A First-Time Dad
FACT #1: There’s nothing like being the dad of a daughter.
FACT #2: To a daughter, there’s no one like her dad.
I’ll be honest: both times my wife and I were pregnant, I was hoping for a boy. I was an only child, and I had no idea how to navigate the world of tutus, dolls, fingernail polish, or Disney princesses. But after my first daughter was born, and even more so after my second, I can tell you I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
There is truly a special bond between a dad and daughter. It’s hard to explain. To know what I do—my presence, my attention, my support, my compassion for my daughters—will be carried with them through their entire lives is both a massively overwhelming mission and a wonderfully great privilege.
And if you were to look up the research on dads and daughters, you’d find a warm, affectionate relationship between the two does indeed help a young girl thrive and develop. Fathers leave a legacy with their daughters which positively informs their identity, confidence, body image, assertiveness, mental health, and problem-solving skills. Not to mention, being the first man in your daughter’s life, you are the one who teaches her the level of respect, love, and treatment she deserves from the opposite sex.
Fellow dads out there, we’ve got a mission.
How can a dad foster a strong connection with his daughter? Here are five ways to be the best dad for your daughter:
1. Be present.
Not just in the same room or in the car picking her up from preschool. I mean, be truly present. Engage with your daughter. Talk, interact, ask questions. There’s a big difference between sitting on the same couch and directing your attention toward your daughter. She needs to know you are interested in her. She will beam when you ask her questions and show an interest in the things she is interested in—tutus, Disney princesses, and all.
2. Take your daughter on dates.
I can’t stress this enough. Even when they are barely walking, daddy-daughter dates hold a special place in her heart. These are the opportunities for your little girl to experience “out there” with you, at the pizza place, the park, the movie theater, fishing, the hiking trail. It gives her the experience of seeing how you operate and behave outside the home, with other people in other places, while knowing your attention is solely on her. So much positive development and socialization results from this kind of quality time with you.
3. Hug, cuddle, and hold hands.
Your daughter needs a positive, comforting touch from you. She gains a sense of warmth, protection, and security when you wrap your arm around her or give her a big goodnight smooch at bedtime. Many daughters love tickle fights and wrestling matches. (Dads need to be wary of how far these go; always give them an easy “way out” of a pin or hold so they don’t feel trapped. Otherwise, the touch turns from feeling protective to overly vulnerable.) There’s power in a dad’s touch which can be used to strengthen the connection with his daughter.
4. Build her up.
Never miss the opportunity for genuine encouragement, compliments, and praise. Just like there is power in your touch, there is also power in a dad’s words. Your daughter loves to impress you, whether it’s with her artwork, her dancing skills, or her knowledge of Disney princesses. Showing your accolades helps her to develop confidence and esteem. Encourage her to keep trying when she can’t quite get something right, like tying her shoes, learning how to spell a word or learning to jump hurdles; this helps her to build grit and determination.
5. Tell her “I love you,” often.
Dads, your daughter can’t hear these words enough. As my girls have gotten older, I’ve come to realize I don’t tell them this because I necessarily want them to know it in the moment; I tell them I love you because I want them to remember how true it is when I’m not with them. These words give your daughter security and comfort, especially when you are away. Make a habit of telling them this in the most unexpected moments.
To a daughter, there’s no one like her dad.
You are one-of-a-kind to her, the first and most important man of her life. Yes, the mission is daunting. But you’ve got what it takes to be a great dad. Your daughter believes in you, so go out there and prove her right. And don’t be afraid to wear a tutu while watching a Disney princess movie every now and then. (You might even get your fingernails painted for free!)
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/pexels-ketut-subiyanto-4545151-scaled-e1598533300549.jpg203450Chris Ownbyhttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngChris Ownby2020-08-27 09:02:142020-08-27 09:57:35How To Be The Best Dad For Your Daughter
Four months into our pregnancy, we were eager with anticipation and excitement to find out whether we were having another boy or a little girl. Our son, three at the time, was excited to find out as well. When the doctor showed us the ultrasound of our little girl, we were ecstatic, overjoyed, and couldn’t wait for the journey ahead. Secretly, thoughts raced through my mind: “How am I supposed to be a dad to a little girl?” “I never had a sister.” “What do I do?” “Is she gonna paint my nails and do my hair?” “Will we play with dolls?” Quickly my thoughts turned a corner as I thought, “What will my daughter need to hear from me, her dad?”
As a dad, I want to be my daughter’s first love. I dream (and am scared by the idea) of walking her down the aisle one day. I want to be the one she comes to when she needs help or advice. But how do I build this relationship from the start? Thankfully I had a few other girl dads in my life who gave me some wise advice. I can’t say I always live it out but I try daily. They told me to speak words of life and truth over her. Words she needs to hear from her dad.
“I love you.”
Life isn’t going to be easy. Our daughters need to hear often the words “I love you” and she needs to hear them from her dad. I want my daughter to know I love her, not because she has done anything or because of anything she can offer me, but solely because she is mine. The world can often infer the idea that love is transactional, we are loved for what we do or what we offer. Our daughters need to know they are loved for who they are. It is important to let them know nothing they do can change the love we have for them.
“You are beautiful.”
She will hear she is beautiful many times, but she needs to hear it often from dad. There is something special when a dad says these words to his daughter. You can also add words like smart, funny, etc. The truth is you are building her confidence. Your daughter will know she is beautiful because her daddy says so. The world will try to tell her she needs to look a certain way, wear certain clothes, or buy certain products to be beautiful but if you have instilled in her from an early age the truth, that she is beautiful, it will resonate with her. Take the opportunity to tell her often.
“You have value.”
Telling my daughter she has value comes from many of the same reasons why I tell her she is beautiful. I want her to know she has value, not because of anything she has done, but because she is mine and I love her. As with beauty, the world will try to skew this one, to say value comes from what you offer or what you do. This is not the case: she has value because she is an individual. I want this to be a constant reminder in her life. Value comes not from what you do, what you offer, or who you are: you have value because you are.
“I’m always here for you.”
A girl needs someone in her corner. Someone she can confide in, share dreams with, and find safety in. Hopefully, this is her dad. The bond between a father and daughter is special. It’s hard to explain, but if you have a daughter, you know this to be true. There is nothing better than when my 4-year-old crawls in my lap, holds my face and says “Daddy, I love you.” My response is most often, “I love you too sweetie and I am always here for you.” I want her to know she can always come to me. In a few years she won’t be crawling into my lap. She may be holding my hand or just offering a hug but the truth will remain the same: I will always be here for her.
“You can tell me anything.”
I read a story recently about a dad who wrote a note to his daughter and put it in a drawer. The note said “If you’re scared to tell me something, just bring me this note as a reminder that I’m here to support you. I won’t get mad; I will work with you on a solution.” I love this and I want this for my kids. NO MATTER WHAT, I want my daughter to know she can always come to me. She can come to me because I have told her she is loved, she has value, and I am always here for her.
By speaking words of truth and life over our daughters, we earn the respect and the trust to be the person they can lean on. My daughter will grow up knowing no matter what she does, good or bad, her dad is right here for her to lean on and confide in. There are things all daughters need to hear from their dad. This is just a starting point. What do you want to instill in your daughter? You’ve got this, Dad!
For other ideas of how to be the best dad for your daughter, check these articles out:
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/298063-P7BSAP-602-scaled-e1598384081101.jpg257450Mitchell Quallshttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngMitchell Qualls2020-08-25 15:35:242020-08-26 09:18:14What All Daughters Need to Hear From Their Dad
Your bride gives you the news: This Friday night I’m having a girls night out, so you’re on dad duty. Good luck! Great. Now what?!?
First of all, CHILL! This is your chance to be the hero, to show the full potential of your dad skills, and to give both your kids and your partner a memorable night.
Here are three dad-hacks for when Mom’s at girls night out and Dad’s in charge:
1. Make memories!
Dads have a special way of giving their children memories that will stay with them well into adulthood. I still remember the fun I had playing laser tag in the house with my dad one evening with all the lights off – something I’m sure Mom wouldn’t be caught dead in the middle of.
Give your kids an experience that’s not part of their typical routine.
Have a Nerf gun war.
Heat up some pizza rolls, turn the lights out and watch a (kid-appropriate) scary movie (the Goosebumps movies are a favorite in my house).
Go for a night walk around the neighborhood. Or better yet, if there are woods nearby, take a night hike.
Roast hot dogs or marshmallows in the backyard. (Marshmallows over the stove are good if there’s no backyard.)
Have a talent show.
Let your kiddos dress you up and have a fashion show.
Set up a WWE wrestling ring in the living room with couch pillows and… well, you know the rest.
This is your chance to be the dad-hero to your kids for turning what could be a boring night (without Mom) into an amazing memory!
2. …But, don’t step outside what you and your partner value as parents.
What I mean here is, don’t violate the boundaries of what you’ve established together as important to your family just because Mom is gone. If weekend bedtimes are important because there’s an early morning soccer game, be sure to wrap up the fashion show or wrestling match on time. If you don’t normally allow scary movies in the house, opt for a Disney movie – or even better, one that you grew up with – which the kids haven’t seen (think Old Yeller, Labyrinth, The Princess Bride, Hook, etc.,).
The idea is to avoid compromising what you’ve both decided is important to your family just because Mom is not there to say no. It may make Dad look like the hero, but if it makes Mom out to be the bad guy (now or later), it’s not worth the risk. Trust me on this one.
3. Celebrate Mom coming home.
Making memories with Dad while Mom is away can have the potential to dishonor Mom.
Think about it: Mom finally gets a night out with the girls to unwind, comes home and finds half-eaten pizza rolls on the coffee table, couch cushions scattered on the floor and Nerf darts in every corner and cranny of the room – not to mention it’s midnight and the kids are still up watching Interview With a Vampire while Dad is asleep on the couch. So much for unwinding.
Instead, teach your children how to honor Mom while she’s away. Try to clean the house better than before she left. Print out pictures of your fashion show (yes, even the one of you with your new hair-do) and have the kids put them in cards they make for Mom telling her how special she is. Have the kids pick some flowers on your night hike to give to Mom when she comes come. Just one simple gesture like that can let Mom know you missed her while she was out.
If Mom comes home early before your festivities are over, prep the kids to greet her with hugs and kisses at the door. And if she’s up to it, bring her into the mix – invite her to watch the rest of the movie on the couch, fix her a s’more, or have her be the guest of honor at a special encore presentation of the talent show.
Andthen let her relax and go to bed while you and the kids clean up!
Allowing your partner to relax and unwind at home after she’s gone out with friends makes you a hero to the kids, AND to her, too!
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/mikael-stenberg-1181131-unsplash-scaled.jpg13902048Chris Ownbyhttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngChris Ownby2019-03-25 08:41:292020-10-02 16:10:03DAD HACKS: For When Mom Is Having A Girl’s Night Out
Dating after divorce or death can be complicated, especially if children are involved. As people navigate the world of dating and blending families, they’ve asked Ron Deal, stepfamily expert and author of Dating and the Single Parent, the following questions plenty of times: How soon is too soon to start dating? Should I introduce this person to my children?
“On the topic of blended families, someone once said, ‘People marry and form a blended family because they fell in love with a person, but they divorce because they don’t know how to be a family,’” says Deal.
“Certainly, it depends on the age of the children,” Deal shares. “A younger child is more open to new adults in their life, but you don’t want to introduce your 4-year-old to a person that you just started dating. You don’t even know whether you like this person. Wait until you think this relationship really has a chance of going somewhere, then you bring them into the picture with intentionality.”
For older children, elementary and beyond, Deal suggests talking with them about it first. Ask, “What if I started dating? How would you feel about that?” This way, you are putting it on their radar that this might happen.
“Once you know that the relationship has potential, it is important to create opportunities for everybody to be together and for additional conversations to take place,” Deal says.
Deal strongly encourages couples to discuss a few things before deciding to move forward with marriage, though.
Some couples decide to test the waters with the two families by living together first. This creates ambiguity for the children. When children experience this uncertainty, it creates chaos and empowers resistance. If they don’t like the idea of the families coming together, the ambiguity leads them to believe they could make the whole thing unravel.
Deal believes, more than anything, a stepfamily needs two adults who have clarity about their relationship and the family’s future. By having conversations ahead of time, you are valuing the “we,” and then the children. If you can’t come to an agreement on your parenting styles,that’s serious.Deal believes it’s just as serious as marrying someone with addiction issues. The outcome of these discussions should be part of the equation as to whether or not you plan to marry.
“At least half to two-thirds of dating couples don’t have serious conversations about how they are going to parent when they bring their two families together,” Deal says. “If your parenting styles are vastly different, this can be a dealbreaker.”
In many instances, one parent has been making all the decisions for the children. Now add a second adult into the mix who isn’t their biological parent. What will you do when your child asks to do something and your answer would typically be yes, but your new spouse doesn’t agree with that?
There’s no question that negotiating parenting and romance all at the same time is complicated. You have to manage the complex moving parts for sure. But Deal believes that if you’re going to make a mistake as a blended family couple, err on the side of protecting your marriage.
“The goal here is to protect your marriage, which is why it is so important to talk about these things prior to getting married,” Deal asserts. “Biological parents have an ultimate responsibility to and for their children, but if you make a parenting decision without consulting your spouse, it isn’t helpful to your marriage. The goal is to co-create your parenting response. You cannot have two different answers for two different sets of kids. That unravels your “us-ness” as a couple.
“It typically takes four to seven years for a stepfamily to find their rhythm,” Deal adds. “There is no rushing it. You can’t will it into being. There are certain aspects of your family that will merge faster than others. Even in the midst of figuring out how to make it work, your marriage can be thriving.”
Looking for more? Check out this article of JulieB TV on this topic!
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/jonathan-j-castellon-be8AmxavYp8-unsplash.jpg8531280Julie Baumgardnerhttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngJulie Baumgardner2019-03-11 06:30:002020-10-09 13:36:26What Single Parents Need to Know About Dating