I have been talking with quite a few parents in the past few days about our upcoming Parents Night Out. Many parents are excited about the church providing this special opportunity for them to have a “Date Night” while the kids are safe and having fun at church. Yet others are conflicted, not sure that they can go out and leave the kids behind. What if they cry when you leave? What if they miss you? What if you can’t relax and have fun because you’re thinking about them the whole time? What if you feel guilty for not being there with them?
It might be good to step back in time and remember how this whole parenting thing started. God brought the two of you together in the first place. Remember? He wants you to live and love and care for each other in a deep and profound way. Remember the day you met? What about the wedding? And the honeymoon? And those amazing first days and weeks and months of making your new life together? Remember what it was like back then?
And then the babies came. It is so easy to get mired down in the day to day busy-ness of diapers, feedings, laundry, soothing fussy babies and being patient with tempermental toddlers, all the while working to keep food on the table and a roof over your heads. And then there is your very legitimate concern for your child’s health and happiness. And, of course, you must provide for their education, enrichment activities and social lives. And don’t forget baseball, dance lessons, swim team, soccer practice – and on and on and on. Parenting is a demanding, exhausting 24-7 job and it is so easy (and not uncommon) for the marriage relationship to quietly, gradually slip away, taking a back seat to parenting.
Christine Carter outlines ten steps to raising happy kids in her book, Raising Happiness: 10 Simple Steps for More Joyful Kids and Happier Parents. She cites extensive scientific research that shows that the first step toward raising joyful kids is for the parents to be happy themselves. There is a substantial link between parental depression and behavioral problems in kids, and there is also a great deal of statistical evidence that happy parents have happy kids.
So, parents, put away feeling guilty for leaving your little ones and spend some special time together. Laugh, enjoy each other and come back to the parenting task refreshed and revitalized! You don’t have to actually “go out”. Date Night doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. No fancy dinners or expensive entertainment required. You can stay at home, pop some popcorn, snuggle up on the sofa and watch old movies – or go for a walk or a bike ride together – or go to the beach. Do whatever is fun for you both. Use the time to reconnect as husband and wife and rekindle the fire that led you to join together to become one way back then – before babies! Taking care of your marriage relationship is an important way to take care of your kids!
There’s still time to register for Parents Night Out. Just click the link on the FBC website to register. See you Friday night!