The Mistake of Putting Children First

Alone At Last

I once had a friend who went away on a long anticipated weekend with her husband. She told me how much her husband looked forward to the weekend because they had neverbeen away alone.

Because she had a child from a previous marriage, everything they’d ever done their entire relationship revolved around family life. Her husband planned this trip, took care of all of the details, made arrangements for caring for their three little dogs, and drove them off on a Friday morning.

Friday night, her 19-year-old daughter called her and told her that her boyfriend had proposed.

That night, this friend packed herself and her husband up and drove the 4 hours home so that she could see the engagement ring and start making wedding plans with her daughter.

We Have A Problem

I think typing this out like this, anyone reading it is able to see the problems in this relationship. This woman put her daughter before her husband, without apologies, their entire marriage.

Just because her daughter had reached that pinnacle of adulthood, that didn’t change. SHE was the most important person in this wife’s life, and her husband fell well second – likely third if we wanted to elevate the status of the dogs into relationship mode.

American Parenting

In researching this phenomenon of putting children before your spouse, I came across the term “American Parenting” – and how that describes this modern way of elevating parenting to a religion complete with children demi-gods who deserve our worship and full focus.

I’ve found article after article — written almost exclusively by women — with the argument that children need to be the center of our world.

I came across one blogger who wrote something that gave evidence to me as to where the disconnect is coming. “My husband can tie his own shoes and make his own dinner. He doesn’t need me right now.”

The parenting that we do that comes with preparing meals for our children or tying their shoes has nothing to do with the placing of children above our husbands.


When my children were little, I prepared meals and tied shoes all day long, and still knew the need to put my husband in my priorities second only to God.

“Putting your husband first” is not in terms of physical actions or needs so much as it is your emotional and spiritual connection. Over and over again, I see children more important in a wife’s emotions than a husband.

One blogger actually said, “In order if importance, I place my children, then my friends, then my husband – but don’t tell him. He doesn’t know!”

The other night, skimming social media, I saw a friend make a reference to her children and complete it with “my children are my life.”

I appreciate the sentimentality that might spur a woman to say such a thing; however, I see mothers say things like that all the time, and if it’s true, then what we have is a society of women with giant holes in their lives.

On Temporary Loan

Our children are given to us to raise and nurture, to train up in the way of God so that when they are old they won’t depart from it.

But once they reach a point of maturity, they become their own adults, responsible to God for their decisions and no longer responsible to us. Our spouses still remain right here by our sides.

God never intended our children to be our life. In John 14:6, Jesus said,

“I am the way, the truth, and the life.”

Taking that even a step further, Christ’s relationship with the church is compared to a relationship between a husband and wife — not a parent and child.

He Needs You

No matter how young or old your children are, despite what that blogger above said, your spouse needs you — needs your love or respect, needs your physical commitment, needs your attention and your focus, needs your intentional loving.

In my article titled The Beauty of Submission, I explained:
Genesis 2:20-24 says,

“I will make him a helper suitable for him…and they will become one flesh.”

The term “one” used here is the same term used in Deuteronomy 6:4 describing the Holy Trinity:

“Hear O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one.”

I think that is a powerful message from God that puts husband and wife as one – one flesh, one in the eyes of God as much as the Trinity of God is one.

In the “American parenting” model, children are treated as equals, part of decision making, catered to when it comes to meals, activities, money, and entertainment.

They tend to operate under blurred lines of expectations and standards. Beyond how unhealthy it is for the child to be the number one priority for a parent, doing so will also generate a feeling of resentment from the neglected spouse.

Over time, all of it will snowball until the marriage itself is at risk.

Blending Well
In mixed/step family, those extremes have a tendency to become even worse. As the mother of a child who was raised with a stepfather, I can understand that at times there may be a knee-jerk reaction to step in try to be a buffer between adult and stepchild, to make sure everyone gets along and is happy — but as many times as I may have felt the impulse, I held it in check.

Doing so would have done nothing than create battlefields that had no business in our home. I am one with my husband – and no matter who our daughter’s biological father is, and no matter what the dynamics are or were in his home, in our home, we parented as a single unit with no separation.

The result of that is a 20-year-old daughter who has a healthy relationship with both of us and considers us a single parenting unit — even though she was five-years-old when we got married.

First Place

Emotionally, spiritually, my husband comes first. I have three children, yet there isn’t another human being on this earth who is more important to me than him.

And I am confident in the knowledge that I come first to him. Whatever that looks like to you. Breastfeeding a baby while pregnant with another and seeing to the wants and needs of my then 10-year-old did not change that.

What’s more, I’m brilliantly designed by my Creator to be able to see to the emotional and physical needs of my children, make them feel loved and secured, and raise them in the way that they should go, while at the same time putting my husband first.

Hallee Bridgeman

Vulture Or Photographer: Is Your Family At Risk?

faithful marriage blended family vulture little girl

The Comedian

The speaker at our Gateway Church service was comedian and actor, Michael, Jr. who showed this Nobel prize winning photograph during his message.

My first thought was, Why? He’s a comedian after all. But I knew why. I don’t remember one joke that had me grabbing Leah’s arm while rolling around in my seat laughing.

What I haven’t been able to forget is this image.

The Point

That’s a little girl who had almost made it to a food bank before collapsing. The vulture is waiting. Patiently waiting for her to die. And she did.

faithful marriage blended family vulture little girl

My first question like so many other people was, “Why didn’t the photographer shoo the vulture away?” The photographer also wondered and regretted, as he killed himself six months later.

I dreamed about this and when I awoke, it was the first thing on my heart. I wondered how could someone just sit there and watch without getting involved?

Then I thought about parents. How often have we watched our kids collapse just short of finding protection from what stalked them? Could we do more, should we do more, and at what point in their lives must we no longer do anything.

Parents of addicts struggle as their children do, but often are unaware of how to help. Mom and dad aren’t the vulture, but are they the cameraman? How do we know when enough is enough, or even is there such a thing as enough?

The Boys

Next, I began to think about whether we sit and watch as the vulture or the photographer as our kids mature. Being passive in our roles as parents doesn’t naturally cause us to be the photographer.

Sometimes actions such as taking no action in the child’s life can be as treacherous as the vulture was to this girl. My parents had very little interaction with me as far as setting boundaries or accountability. God was never mentioned either. Growing into my faith, I began to understand the effect it had on me although there was no predatory attack. Damage is damage.

In house, we have three young boys at various stages of puberty. While we openly discuss and encourage most topics, we’ve yet to have a man-to-soon-to-be-man talk.

It’s not because we’re hesitant. A lot of it has to do with when and what to say so that they don’t come away with more questions than answers.

faithful marriage blended family vulture little girl

The Girls

Our two teenaged girls are in the swing of high school life. They’re good, Christian girls, and to a degree we’ve allowed that to act as a sort of assurance. In reality, without conversations with them, that is about as effective a defense as a mosquito net would be against the vulture.

We have spoken with them, and often. What I thought at first was Leah’s “job” to talk with the girls, was something I soon realized was also my responsibility. They need a model by which to judge their male friends, boyfriends and one day their…don’t say it….husbands.

Instead of sitting idly by and hoping a predator never stalks them, I found it easier than expected to talk with them about their male counterparts. It was easier because it was something Leah and I prayed about and enveloped with God’s love and direction.

faithful marriage blended family vulture little girl

The Wife

Like the Ghost of Christmas Past, my experience with the photograph wasn’t over. My heart set towards my wife. We spend lots of time together, and still sit for hours talking into the wee hours of the morning. But, there are those other times.

Yes, when it comes to Leah, there are times I become either the vulture or the photographer. I’ve hovered over her in her misery as she belabored with an argument while waiting for the right moment to attack her with another harsh word.

I’ve also sat silent as she suffered from the effects of an intense disagreement. Myself, wrapped in the bitterness of the battle, but unwilling to do anything more than watch. Her love language is touch, so by denying her that attention, it compounds the hurt.

The Dad

Finally, I thought about myself. I’ve been all three to me. I’ve been starved from God’s grace by growing up without a foundation of faith.

I’ve watched myself suffer without the initiative to do something about it, and I’ve heaped misery upon myself while waiting for the next chance to self-destruct.

faithful marriage blended family vulture little girl

The Blended Family

Looking at the family dynamics for avoiding this horrific scene to play out in your family is tough. We parents do find ourselves on the sideline as observers. Sometimes it’s as simple as not knowing what was going on.

Blended families can add another element of difficulty when clear lines are not drawn for all members and a proper hierarchy hasn’t been established.

By hierarchy, I mean God first, your spouse second, and yes, even to their dismay, the kids come third. But, it’s a solid third. Once this is established, it helps to detect and combat situations where your kids may become victims.

When the non-biological parent doesn’t have the authority to parent a child, or isn’t fully invested in the blended family dynamic, then not just gaps, but gapping cracks occur where kids and your spouse may fall through.

faithful marriage blended family vulture little girl

The Truth

It’s complex when operating without Christ as your anchor. He will provide an impenetrable hedge of protection around your family. God will slay the vultures on your behalf as he refuses to sit idly by and watch His children devoured by the enemy.

But, the key here is that God will not enter where He is not welcomed. We are granted the gift of free will. No matter if that freedom is used to do good or evil, it is our choice. Otherwise, we’d be no different from the beasts in the field. You must invite God into your life and your family.

Defend yourself and family against the dangers of the vulturous predator as well as the lurker in the shade. Also, don’t be the shelter that just sits there well intentioned but without ability or effort for seeking out those in need.

Don’t just sit there.

I Am 2nd,