Sunday, November 13, 2011
PDA's: Parental Displays of Affection
My kids hate to see my EC and me hug and kiss. They cringe and avert their eyes. They say "C'mon you guys!". But, I know it's just for show. They don't really mind - and even if they did, it wouldn't stop me. I'm going to hug and kiss my wife. If they don't want to witness it, they can leave the room.
(Just to avoid the obvious confusion, the picture above is not me and my wife - it is Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman - but I completely understand if you thought it was us.)
In October conference, Elaine Dalton, (Young Women General President) gave a wonderful talk to the fathers about how to raise happy and well-adjusted daughters. She referenced up a quote that President David O. McKay liked to use:
“The most important thing a father can do for his [daughter] is to love [her] mother.”1 By the way you love her mother, you will teach your daughter about tenderness, loyalty, respect, compassion, and devotion."
(link to the full talk here)
I'm sure we are all familiar with that quote, but I wanted to see where it originated. It turns out that the original quote was "The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother." The man who first said it was Theodore Hesburgh. He was a Catholic Reverend, and was the President of the University of Notre Dame for 35 years. Terrific thought and quote. I'm glad our church had embraced it.
Sister Dalton went on to define ways we can show our daughters, including tenderness, loyalty, respect, compassion and devotion. All of these are hugely important, and we would all do well to follow her counsel.
But I want to add another: Passion. What? My kids don't need to witness passion! Get your minds out of the gutter! Our kids need to witness that we really do love each other, and that we aren't just roommates sharing parental responsibilities. They need to see that there is an element of romance and passion in our marriages, because our behavior is what they will base their marriages on.
Here are MMM's 5 suggestions to SHOW your kids that you really love each other passionately. I have also learned from my experience that these five things also make for much stronger marriages, which will bless your children's lives - and yours.
1) Pucker Up. Don't be shy about kissing, hugging and holding hands with your kids present. They act like they hate it -and maybe they do - but it reinforces that your desire to hug your spouse is more important than their discomfort. (Note: Don't be ridiculous about this - they don't need to think their parents are pervs with no self-control)
2) Be Inseparable. Sit next to each other in church/movies/etc. I know, there is a natural tendency to sit as far away from each other as possible, with the kids corralled in-between. Resist this impulse. Sit by each other. Hold hands. In years of sitting on the stand, I have seen a strong correlation that the couples with the strongest marriages usually sit next to each other in church.
3) Date Night! Go on dates - weekly if you can. I am constantly amazed when I hear someone say "We haven't been on a date in three months" but the couple manages to attend every soccer/baseball game all season long. The marriage is more important that the kids hobbies. Is it a money issue? Trade babysitting. Exploit the grandparents. Guilt a Beehive into doing it for service. Do cheap things. which leads us to..
4) Temple Time. Go to the temple together. Let your kids know. Sometimes spouses will trade-off -one will attend, the other will stay home, then they swap. Go together. After all, temple is really all about that very relationship, isn't it? And it is a cheap date.
5) Bedtime. Go to bed at the same time. I know I'm talking to the blogging world, and some of you might not understand what I am saying, so I will type it again, more slowly: Go to bed at the same time. Why? As your kids get older, they start to notice stuff like that, and if dad goes to bed, and mom stays up to clean the kitchen, questions will rightfully arise in their minds. Likewise, if mom goes to bed, and dad stays up to surf the internet, you are just asking for trouble. Kids are aware of these things...
Do these things, and your kids will have a greater sense that your spouse is your top priority. Ask any one of the FOMLs the following question, and you will get the same answer:
If a car was coming towards you, your mom and your dad, and your dad could save either you or your mom, who would he save?
All of my kids would answer "Mom". And they would be right.