In my next few posts, I will discuss in greater detail the problems I first described in my post on child-centered parenting. Here I will describe the first problem with child-centered parenting: your roles as husband and wife change to mom and dad. In my previous post, I said:
“Child-centered parenting redefines the husband-wife relationship. You and your spouse are no longer husband and wife. You are mom and dad. And as mom and dad, you are less accountable to each other and yourselves. You are solely accountable to your child.”
Perfect in your child’s eyes
As parents, we are perfect in our child’s eyes. We maintain this perfection for many years. This parental perfection is so important to a child that you can probably remember the exact day you realized your parents weren’t perfect. Believing you are perfect in your child’s eyes makes your roles as mother and father more appealing than your roles as husband and wife. When you are accountable only to your child, you are perfect. When you are accountable to your spouse and yourself, you cannot deny your own imperfections.
Children make us feel needed
Unlike any other role in our lives, our roles as mom and dad allow us to feel needed. Our children give us purpose. Even at the height of our careers, we might not have felt as needed as we feel with our children. Your child depends on you for his health and safety. And when you allow it, as many attachment-parenting types do, your child depends on you for his own comfort. When you don’t teach your child to be independent, you feel more needed than ever. In fact, some moms encourage their children to need them even when they show signs of independence. Many moms thrive on this need to be needed which makes it easier to adopt the role of mom in favor of that of wife.
Cultural perceptions of motherhood and fatherhood
These days, it’s often more acceptable to prioritize our parenting roles over our husband and wife roles. Our culture says that we can do anything as long as it’s what we deem best for the child. Our culture says that our spouses are fully formed adults who can take care of themselves. Our children need us most, so we will take on that motherhood or fatherhood role with gusto, no matter the effects on our other relationships.
Allowing the child to come between you
Put yourself in the shoes of attachment parent types who spend all day literally attached to their children. When dad comes home and wants a hug and a kiss, he is rejected since mom has nothing left to give. She has given all of her attention and energy to the child and wants nothing more than to be left alone once the child is asleep. Also consider the “family bed”. When dad has a busy day of work ahead and cannot sleep with a child’s foot in his ribs, he often finds a new place to sleep. The “family bed” then becomes the “mom and child bed”. These are just two examples of many that separate husband and wife in the name of parenting.
The beginning of the end
If you consider that it’s more pleasing to be mom and dad rather than husband and wife—and that our culture promotes this ideal—then you must consider that this can be the beginning of the end for the marriage. If you devote all of your attention and energy to your children, you have little left for your spouse.
All relationships, especially marriages, must be maintained. Like a garden, they must be tended and cared for or else they will die. By prioritizing mom and dad roles over husband and wife roles, child-centered parenting can be the beginning of the end for the marriage.
The child rules
If you consider that the child replaces the husband as the mother’s primary focus, you realize how the child then becomes the head of the household. As redundant as this sounds, by putting the child at the center of the family, you continue to put the child at the center of the family. Child-centered parenting builds upon itself.
All of the problems of child-centered parenting, which I will continue to discuss in future posts, are interconnected. These problems not only harm the child but they allow child-centered parenting to build upon itself to the detriment of the marriage. It becomes a vicious cycle—with very high stakes.
If you do nothing else in your parenting, make your marriage a priority. Allow your child to be a welcome member of the family rather than putting him at the center of it.