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Best Parenting Tip: Be a Great Spouse

September 7, 2016 | by Rabbi Eli Held

Treating each other with utmost love and respect gives your children the greatest gift imaginable.

A young girl remembered the following incident from her childhood.

“One night my mom made dinner after a long and stressful day at work. She placed a jar of jam and an extremely burnt piece of toast in front of my father. I was waiting to see if Dad noticed the burnt toast, but he just ate it and asked me how my day was. I don’t remember my answer but at the moment my mom apologized for having burned the toast. I will never forget his answer, ‘Honey, I love burnt toast!’

“Later, before bed, I asked my dad if he really loved burnt toast. He wrapped me in his arms and whispered, ‘Your mom had a long and tough day, and she was really tired. Burnt toast never hurt anyone, but words do.’”

The way we treat our spouse does not just impact our marriage; it has a lasting effect on our children as well.

From a very young age, our children are the most astute observers of everything we do. They don’t miss a thing. The Talmud teaches that whatever a child says out of the house comes from words that were spoken within the home.

It goes one step further: the most effective way to raise healthy, adjusted, and happy children is not by focusing on being the best parent but on being the best spouse.

Children that grow up in a home where the parents treat each other with utmost love and respect and are each other’s first priority are given the greatest gift imaginable.

They feel safe.
They feel love.
They feel warmth.
They learn respect.
They learn selflessness.
They learn not to be lazy.
They learn to hold back hurtful words.
They learn to be loyal and committed.
They learn what it means to be a good friend.
They learn how to laugh.
They learn how to be compassionate and caring.
They learn how to be a listener.
They learn how to communicate.
They learn to compromise.

But most of all, they learn what it means to be a dignified human being.

Parents who consistently put their children before their spouses have to reevaluate their priorities.

Of course we need to work on being the best parents we can be. We need to invest time and energy, love and patience in our children. But if we invest only in our children and neglect our marriage, our children will inevitably see double standards.

Why does Daddy speak so kindly to me but berates Mommy all the time?

Why does Mommy have so much patience for me but can’t seem to care about Daddy after he comes home from a long day at work?

Why does Daddy only smile at me and tell me nice things?

Why does Mommy prepare dinner for me but not for Daddy?

When a child senses these double standards he initially becomes confused and eventually loses respect. The child loses his hero and the parent loses his legacy.

Bottom line: working on being the best spouse you can be is the most effective way to be a good, responsible parent. Your children will be forever grateful and will hold you in the highest regard.

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