Fun Parenting Tips and Meaningful Marriage principles

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I was organizing downstairs and I came across one of my notebooks from college where I had written some of the “gems” and things that I learned from my marriage and parenting classes.  Here’s the best of them all summed up for you:

15 Great Marriage Principles to Always Remember

*Don’t “overfeed” your children and “starve” your marriage. Make sure your children know that your first loyalty is to your spouse. Always back each other up in front of your children. If you don’t agree with a rule that is enforced with the children, talk about it privately rather than undermine each other. My husband and I started this fun idea that we recently heard: set a time that is just for you two. For us it is 8:30 after Kinley is in bed. This is a time to sit, snack, whatever…but without distractions. This is a time to just talk and hear about each other’s day.

*This goes along with the first, but continue dating after you are married. Take time away just the two of you each week. It doesn’t have to cost money, but plan for it and make sure it always happens!  Here and here are some blog posts on some fun date nights to have at home.

*We have this mistaken idea that the best way to “help” someone improve is to criticize them. The opposite is true. We are motivated by praise. When we were first married, I remember I was having a bad day and I proceeded to say, “I’m sorry for complaining…” and my husband responded with the words, “complain? Yeah right. I’ve never heard you complain about anything.” He was sincere in his compliment and it motivated me to want to stay that way; whereas, if the statement had been, “why can’t you stop complaining?” there would have been little motivation present. That’s how we are as humans. We want to continually do what makes others happy.

*distinguishing between preferences and principles takes humility. Just because you like something a certain way doesn’t mean it’s the only way to live.

*Pray for your spouse. Not only is it special for your spouse to hear you pray about them, it helps you remember all the reasons why you love him/her. In your personal prayers, ask, “what can I do to make my spouse’s life less frustrating?”

*Communication is more an attitude than a skill. Too many people say things like “My husband comes from a family that doesn’t know how to communicate” and continue to blame the problems on him. Good communication more often comes from two people ready and willing to find a solution than from two people with a communications degree.

*Rather than feeling shame for our weaknesses, we can rejoice as they lead us to true humility and greater dependence on God. Rather than try to defend yourself, delight in the opportunity to learn and become a better person. There should be no shame in recognizing an area in our life that we can improve on.

*Always say “I Love YOU.”

*Do something EVERY DAY to express genuine affection and appreciation. Appreciation is the gas that keeps marriages going. Let your spouse know how much you love and appreciate them often. Don’t let what’s missing discolor everything

*Love your Husband and you will love yourself! (Ephesians 5:28)

* Make it a goal to never attack or call names. Be hard on the problem and easy on the person.

*Remember that crisis is composed of two symbols: one representing danger, and the other opportunity. Trials and challenges can either harm or help marriages, depending on how you react to them. Treat each challenge as an opportunity to grow closer to one another.

*Remember that giving up is not the same as compromising

*Agree to disagree!

* Instead of nagging about things you want your spouse to be or do, try becoming it yourself.

*Focus on WHAT is right, now WHO is right.

Now it’s time to hear from you! What would you say is your “best” marriage advice? What skills/principles have most helped you?

Speaking of marriage, this girl is hilarious!  How many of you had to work extra hard to convince your spouse to marry you?

I also had this quote written down in my college notebook about being a super mom and decided to make it into subway art and put it in my room since I love it so much. The original quote is from a talk by Ezra Taft Benson and it says:

“she will have the countenance of Christ for her beauty, the peace of Christ to support her emotionally, the Savior’s example as a means to solve her problems and to strengthen her, and the love of Christ as the source of love for herself, her family, and those about her.”

Click to view full size.

Now onto some of the “gems” that I took from my parenting classes:

*When you can, use parent-child activities as a reward for your children rather than food/toys

* Write about your child in a journal during your pregnancy with them and give it as a gift when they are older

*Find alternatives to yelling (like humor) if you want your children to learn. When you yell at your children they have no time to self reflect because they are exerting all of their energy protecting themselves or being mad at you. As you feel the anger bubbling, rather than yell use that energy to excitedly say something like, “I’m so excited for you! You must be wanting an opportunity to learn how to be nice to your sister!” Or an opportunity to learn hard work, or respect, or whatever brought on the behavior.

*SPECIFICALLY praise your children multiple times a day! (“You were so creative to come up with that idea!” Rather than “You are awesome!”). Also praise them in front of other people, especially if they think you don’t know they’re listening.

* Attack the problem, not the child. Always make sure they know they are loved.

* Have “brag time” with your kids. The rule: they have to brag about each other. This gives siblings a chance to brag about each other and uplift each other

* Ask your kids these two questions before they go to bed:

1. What was your happiest thing today?

2. What did you do for God today?

* Set an alarm for their curfew. This keeps you from staying up and losing sleep. If they make it home on time, they sneak in and turn off the alarm, if they don’t…the alarm goes off and you know to wait up for your child.

*If kid’s are having a hard time falling asleep, pull out the “magic pillow” (has a special pillowcase) that “magically” puts kids to sleep. If you have kids that are scared of monsters, have a spray bottle with water labeled “monster spray.” Spray the room before they go to sleep.

*Use humor to discipline your children! “If you’re going to argue you have to do it laying on your back,” or “If you’re going to argue you have to sing your argument (opera) style outside!”

*Don’t shield your kids from parental arguments. It’s good for children to see their parents disagree so that they know that disagreements are normal, just make sure to resolve arguments in a healthy way so that they learn how to resolve conflicts. One family had a “push up kisses” rule. If the kids saw their parents arguing, they could yell “push up kisses!” and the mom had to get on the floor and dad had to do push ups and kiss mom every time he goes down for a push up (allow humor in resolving conflicts).

*Kids that keep getting out of bed: As kids are going to bed give them certain privileges like a night-light or lamp, the door ajar, and music or a book on tape. Each time they get out of bed you say, “Sure! you can get up and get a drink…which are you going to give up first? The lamp, the story, or the open door?” Or another family that I know just has each kid keep a water bottle by their bed.

*Kids that refuse to wear their seatbelts: Teach, don’t control. Slow down to less than 15 MPH and BRAKE! Teach them that it’s a matter of safety so they don’t get hurt.

Disclaimer:  Please, please, please be smart if you do this and do not harm your children in the process.  A professor gave this idea to me, my kids are not old to have actually tried this myself, therefore it is not my personal recommendation.

*Kids that are consistently unfair to each other: Next time they get in trouble, let them choose each other’s consequences. If they are unfair and choose something very difficult for each other, say: “congratulations! You did such a good job, you just picked your own consequence!” In the example given, the brother suggested that his sister should be grounded for a week and the sister decided to choose something equally painful for her brother. As a result, they both ended up with the consequence they intended for each other.

*Have a “blessings” jar. It could be for misbehaving, whining, hitting, etc. When the behavior shows up, have them pick a paper out of the blessing jar. On each paper is a task listed that they get to do to “bless” mom (could be dusting, or other tasks).

*Let your children decide natural consequences. Sometimes kids know better than you do what would help them learn a certain principle. One family I knew gave their children the chance to come up with a natural consequence if they misbehaved. You could say something like “I have a consequence in mind…but what do you think would be fair?” Make sure they know that they automatically get yours if they don’t come up with a good enough one the first time. This usually turns in the parent’s favor.

*Fighting in the Car. Rather than yelling or repeating 5 million times “if you don’t stop I am going to pull this car over!” try telling them ahead of time what the consequence is going to be. “If you don’t get along I will pull over and knit until you stop.” When they fight, don’t say anything, just pull over and start knitting. It won’t last long.

OR…I had a friend do this but it’s not something I would personally have the heart to do. Her kids always fought in the car and never believed her when she said she would turn the car around and go home. So one time she told the whole family they were going to Disneyland, but that there was to be no fighting or she would turn the car around and they would go home (She of course was not planning on actually going there because she knew a fight would start within five minutes). Sure enough, the fight started and she turned around and took them home. She said there were a lot of tears that day, but they believed her from that moment on.

What works best in your family?

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Tina M
I'm six-foot tall mother of two and I'm enjoying the view! I use blogging as my creative outlet, swimming as my physical outlet, and the rest of my life revolves around my husband and girls (18 months apart). I enjoy warm summer rain, eating peanut butter by the spoonful, having dance parties with my husband and kids and I avoid folding laundry at all cost
Tina M
Tina M

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  1. Jami says

    What an awesome list!! I realize there is so much I need to improve on. I did hit the brakes once in the car so my kids could feel a small impact of an accident (no one was hurt) and now they always buckle! I also like using humor in discipling, mainly because it get me to laugh about the situation instead of getting mad.

  2. Jessi says

    I just noticed that in one post you said not to shield your children from seeing marital disputes but in this one you say that if you disagree with your spouse about something to do with the children to discuss it in private. I have lived with these philosophies as well but reading them on here struck me and made me think perhaps it would be better for my kids to see that mom and dad dont always agree on parenting concepts and to see the back and forth exchange between us but to always see that in the end we always stand united. That way when they become parents they recognize that differences in parenting styles are natural and they understand how to work through those differences.

    • says

      Thanks for your comment Jessi! Yes, I believe it’s good for children to see their parents disagree and resolve things in a mature and healthy way….The paragraph that mentioned discussing with your spouse in private is when the disagreement is specifically dealing with a discipline issue regarding your children. So rather than say to your spouse (in front of your child): “Oh just let her go!” It would be better to back each other up and support each other, rather than to undermine each other when it comes to disciplining. If children feel that one parent is always more harsh and the other one is always trying to “free” them then it could lead either the child or the parent to harbor negative feelings toward each other. For example, if I asked my mom if I could go somewhere and she said “no,” I KNEW that I could not in return go to my dad and try to get a different answer. I tried this once and got a “yes” answer from my dad, but the moment he found out that my mom had said “no” first I was in big trouble. He said to me, “My answer is always in support of your mother’s…if she said no, the answer is no. And if you come to me trying to get a different answer, you are in big trouble.” In that case, if he had disagreed with my mother’s response they would have talked in private, came to a mutual decision, and then told me my answer had changed. This helps avoid “nice parent” vs “mean parent.” This obviously only would work if mom and dad were unified in their parenting beliefs.

      • says

        But I totally agree with what you said. That doesn’t mean that you don’t EVER disagree about parenting issues between each other, it just means that overall your children know that you support each other and that although you love them very much, your loyalty belongs first to your spouse! Thanks again for commenting.

  3. says

    Wow, great ideas! I really love the one about backing each other up in front of the children. That is so important. I have seen spouses who are divided in that area, and it’s just confusing for the kids, not to mention not good for the marriage.

    As for advice, I think one advice I would give is to not try to be “right,” just try to be heard. Sometimes we want to be right at any cost, when really, isn’t it just enough to know that they heard our point of view? That goes along with your “agree to disagree” one though, so I’m not really original, lol! Thanks so much for linking up to Making Your Home Sing Monday!

    • says

      Great input Nan! And yes, you’re original….trying not to be “right” is a little bit different than “agree to disagree” in some aspects and deserves its own mention. Thanks!

  4. says

    Woah! Your first loyalty should be your children, not your spouse! Children need more help and attention and your spouse is able to take care of themselves. Your children DEPEND on you. A decent husband would know this.

    You asked those children to be here; you owe them your life

    • says

      I agree that your children need more help, and I’m definitely not suggesting that you neglect your children’s needs to take care of your husband. However, I personally believe that a strong marriage is the foundation for a strong family, and that by giving your children a strong marriage to observe and parents that love and adore each other, that you are giving them so much more than you imagine; there is so much research on the mental and emotional health benefits to children of parents that have a healthy and happy marriage.

    • Jamie says

      The Bible clearly states that a woman is to put her husband first (after God, of course) and then her children come next.

  5. Sarah says

    LOVED that clip of the little girl who needs a job before she gets married – JUST LIKE my little one! Not the appearance, but the attitude and mannerisms were almost identical.

  6. Claire says

    Maybe this make sense for your marriage and your personality, maybe it doesn’t, but this is something I find I have to do: I always apologize before I mean it. If I was rude, angry, snippy, whatever it is, it takes me a while to cool down and let it go. Once I do, I want to move on and not think about whatever it was that got me upset.
    So, while I am still upset I apologize to my husband for my behavior or bad mood. I do this so he knows that a) I am upset with the situation, not him and b) that I love him even when I’m angry.

    • says

      I love that Claire! It takes great humility to apologize when you’re still angry! I’m not always so good at it. I have however noticed, that when I do this, I feel more love for him even though I’m angry. It’s almost like a verbal reminder that yes, I’m mad… But “I still love you”

  7. Haley says

    These are all great tips! I agree that I wouldn’t have the heart to do the Disneyland thing though. Made me a little sad just reading about it! LOL


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