A Parent’s Best Gift

As parents, we spend great time and effort trying to come up the right gift for our child during times of special celebration. Finding one that will provide both immediate and long-term enjoyment is so difficult that we will often settle for just getting that thing they really, really want. We do this with the awareness that before next year is half over, the gift will probably be forgotten.

But there is one gift, more than any other, that will have tremendous long-lasting value to your children. The best gift a child can receive is a healthy relationship between the parents. Is this on your gift list? Some parents have resigned themselves to a relationship of disappointment or disconnection, but change is possible. It is a gift you may still be able to give.

I would never suggest that a healthy marriage can be realized by following a few easy steps. As a counselor, I know better than that. But I also know that change often begins with a few specific goals. So if you want to give this gift for your child, here are a three changes to consider.

  1. Switch Your Focus.
    Spend less time looking back on this hurts and disappointments of your marriage and look more toward the possibilities of your future. Determine to settle unresolved issues that compromise your connection to each other. This will likely require some apologies and forgiveness, but be willing to do whatever it takes to turn your thoughts and conversations to the hope that is ahead rather than hurts that are behind you. 
  2. Soothe Your Friction.
    If stress or conflict causes you to either move away from each other or against each other, commit yourselves to learning how to move toward each other instead. Your child should be aware of disagreements without being exposed to battles. Set aside a weekly time when the two of you will privately check in with each other and work through any necessary issues. If you don’t know how to resolve conflict, ask for help. 
  3. Secure Your Friendship.
    Commit to making daily investments into your relationship. Give affirmation and affection to each other without waiting for it to “feel natural.” Be intentional with your intimacy, even if that means you start by making a daily checklist of the things you will do or say for their benefit. 

I recently counseled a young woman whose father had been killed in a car accident. Out of her profound grief, she was still able to express gratitude for those good things her father had given her. “What do you remember most about him?” I asked. She smile through her tears, “I watched him love my mother.”

She had been given the best gift.

Tim Tedder