Pursuing Parental Oneness: Getting On The Same Page
My daughter screamed; it was a full-blown, come-get-me-right-now-or-I-WILL-pass-myself-out scream. A six-month-old, our girl had learned that if she screamed hard and loud and long enough, I would come to her “rescue” — even when (ahem, especially when) it was bedtime.
Even though well-fed, dry-diapered, lovingly-bathed, affectionately-snuggled, our daughter would STILL not sleep longer than two hours at a time. My exhausted, new-mom heart simply could not take her tears; my drained, new-dad husband could see clearly that the baby was winning the battle of the wills.
It seems silly, doesn’t it, that a tiny baby can wreak such havoc on two full-grown adults? My husband and I knew that this first test of our parenting would set the stage for future parenting patterns, so we sat down and made a plan to which both of us could adhere. Basically, we had to get on the same parenting page.
Encouraging parents to “get on the same page” is common advice, but what does it really look like to present a united front when teaching, training, and disciplining children together? In her book, Team Us, Ashleigh Slater writes about her wedding day saying, “When I walked down that aisle, I was a ‘me.’ When Ted and I walked back up it, that “me” had become part of ‘us’ — Team Us, as I like to call this new formation.”
While it is natural for a mother and father to divide and conquer all the tasks associated with parenting — tasks such as meal-making, tooth-brushing, calendar-keeping, kid-bathing, house-cleaning, chore-assigning, toilet-training, homework-helping, clothes-shopping, Bible-teaching (and much more!) — we must take care that in the division of tasks, we aren’t inadvertently dividing into separate sides.
That means that if mom says “no” to Junior, Junior automatically knows that dad is going to say “no,” too, and vice versa. In fact, if mom says “no,” Junior isn’t even going to approach dad about the topic because he knows that while mom and dad are two people, they parent as one.
A united front does not come naturally, however. Both spouses must work hard to develop a parenting game plan. Required are many, many strategy-setting sessions.
For example, who will take the lead on discipline issues and when? What shall be the consequences when children are disrespectful? What if we disagree on a parenting issue? Discussion topics will vary, but the most important tactic of all is that the husband and wife make time to design a single, united parenting plan.
Jesus said that when a man and woman get married, “the two will become one flesh.” (Mark 10:8) This is true in every aspect of our marriages, and it’s important to realize that this “oneness” is not going to “just happen.” In fact, we must make the time to talk about how we can better pursue together spiritual, physical, emotional, intellectual, sexual, and even parental oneness.
Pursuing parental oneness is no easy task, though! Paul says, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9)
My hope is that you will not give up. I pray you’ll sit down with your spouse to plan ways you can pursue parental oneness together. To assist you in the process, my husband and I wrote Undivided Marriage: When TWO People Become ONE Flesh. It’s a devotional born out of 25 years of marriage and can serve as a discussion starter for you and your spouse as you pursue oneness together — in every aspect of your marriage, including parenting.
It was something of a revelation long ago when I came under the conviction that our “oneness” whether it is with God’s creation, with each other or with God Himself is nothing more or less than our participation and immersion in the very union which exists between the members of the Holy Trinity, and theirs with us. After all which of us who embraces God would deny we we were created for communion with Him given what He has told us and what we know. What oneness could even be imagined by us which is so dramatic as to be the actual union which makes three distinct individuals seamlessly joined as one God and yet this is precisely the union which is offered to us as our communion with God and with each other that arises from Him alone. We may attempt to “figure out” how to come into unity with one another and establish a useful unity as individuals or as families but what is actually required of us is that our unity is that same consummate unity with God of which we were enabled in Jesus’ death and resurrection. if we are to enter into the genuine unity for which we are intended, we must first enter into the consummate and selfless unity which exists between Jesus and the Father as the very substance and destiny of our lives. It is this unity for which we were intended and one that facilitates life in communion with God and our entry into Heaven enabled by our consummate personal vulnerability to God. This disposition alone is what makes each of us a vessel found worthy to become a home for our Father, our Savior, and the Holy Spirit as we are promised by our Savior. Our communion with God is the unity which provides defense for each of us against all that is not our God and binds our wives and children not only to us but more importantly, to God. Parents should pray each day for a singular desire for a consummate surrender of vulnerability to God and allow the communion with Him which arises when we do, to enable not just your passion for mere unity of our families but for a consummate unity with Him alone from which all true sanctity arises.
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