Somewhere on that bumpy ride known as my teen years, I vividly recall telling a boyfriend I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom someday. My mom taught elementary school and was an amazing educator; but, deep inside her heart, she always dreamed of being a stay-at-home mom. My grandmother was a stay-at-home mom in an era when most wives and mothers stayed home and cared for the house and family’s needs. My mentor stayed home while her children were young and later went back to work for several years. Having seen both sides of the coin, and knowing my personality and personal values, I thought I would most enjoy being at home with my children if the circumstances allowed it.
As we cruised down Martin Luther King Blvd. in our hometown, I casually mentioned my desire to my then-boyfriend. His response was somewhere between unsupportive and completely irate. It was as if we were engaged and a week away from the wedding. “You are going to have to help me!!!” he scolded — as if I was requesting to stay home and watch talk shows all day or as if I was looking for a sponsor.
It was a telling moment in time. I knew that relationship would never lead to marriage seeing as how we did not agree on something so foundational and dear to my heart.
Fast-forward seven years. Eric and I were driving down Fort Avenue in our college town. We were engaged and a month or so away from walking down the aisle. In retrospect, I should have asked him this question sooner, but thankfully it did come out before we said our I do’s. Nervously, I asked, “So, if something happened to my dad, and my mom needed care…” then he interrupted me and said, “She would live with us.” My heart smiled as I became even more convinced of my decision to marry this man.
Though I understand not everyone wants to stay home with children, and not everyone is comfortable with the idea of having aging parents in their home, it was important to me that whoever I married agreed with me on these significant points; and, you and your potential spouse need to agree on what you believe is right regarding family needs and family care. Otherwise, you may be in store for some extreme stress and conflict when life changing situations arise – and they often happen in the blink of an eye.
Do You Have Your Creed Notebooks Handy?
It is time for some more discussion questions! We hope you are finding these enlightening and helpful. Eric and I were extremely enamored with each other back in our courtship days and we thought we were ready for marriage. However, looking back we realize we were not as ready as we thought. We both wish we had talked more in preparation for this mammoth marriage journey. Sure, we might have invited some arguments, but heated pre-marriage discussions beat post-marriage wars any day!
- What do I believe about my role in caring for my future children? What do I believe about my spouse’s role?
- During Infancy?
- During Toddler Years?
- During Pre-School Stage?
- During School Years?
- During Teen Years?
- During Young Adulthood?
- What do I believe about my role in caring for my aging parents?
- What do I believe about my role in caring for my aging in-laws?
- What do I believe about my spouse’s role in caring for his or her aging parents?
- What do I believe about my spouse’s role in caring for my aging parents?
- What do I believe about family roles? (e.g., earning, discipline, family care, attention, affection, education, etc.)
- Roles of the Mom
- Roles of the Dad
- Roles of the Children
- Roles of the Grandparents
- Roles of the Aunts
- Roles of the Uncles
- Roles of the Cousins
- How comfortable am I being involved in the lives of extended family (i.e., family members not living in my home) and them being involved in our life?
- Where do I set the boundaries?
- Where does my significant other set the boundaries?
- What reasons do we have for our answers?
- What expectations does my family have of me now and post-marriage? What expectations does my boyfriend or girlfriend’s family have of him or her now and post-marriage? (If you don’t know, consider asking them.)
- What is the difference between caring for family and enabling misbehavior in family? (Write your response out and then share your answers with each other.)
- What disagreements regarding raising children and caring for family would I consider deal breakers?
What Does the Bible Say?
But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. (1 Timothy 5:8, ESV)
But if a widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show godliness to their own household and to make some return to their parents, for this is pleasing in the sight of God. (I Timothy 5:4, ESV)
‘Honor your father and mother’ (this is the first commandment with a promise), ‘that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.’ (Ephesians 6:2-3, ESV)
Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered. (1 Peter 3:7, ESV)
Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. (Colossians 3:21, ESV)
Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. (Colossians 3:19, ESV)
Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. (Colossians 3:18, ESV)
But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. (I John 3:17-18, ESV)
Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching, for they are a graceful garland for your head and pendants for your neck. (Proverbs 1:8-9, ESV)
Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. (Romans 12:10, ESV)
God’s word is a treasure trove of love and wisdom and though we share verses with you in many of our posts, we encourage you all to read the Bible cover-to-cover without proof-texting. Think of it as a book not separated by chapters and verses. God has much to teach us about all areas of our lives even in the sections not specifically dedicated to our topics of interest. Some areas of the Bible are harder to read than others – and that is okay. (We all feel that way! Leviticus is hard! ~smile~) Read it relatively quickly (several chapters a day, if possible). Start in Genesis and continue through Revelation. You may be surprised by how much you learn about various verses reading them in context! I surely was!
Are You in Agreement about What it Means to Take Care of Family?
Though it is impossible to consider every scenario which could potentially take place regarding family care, talk about as many situations as you can think of throughout the next week or so. Though you will not have answers for every problem you might face, it will give you both an overall idea of whether you see eye-to-eye in this area.
Discuss such topics as:
- How do we feel about nursing homes and under what circumstances would we place a parent in one?
- How much financial help are we willing to offer parents or siblings and under which circumstances?
- If we both work outside the home, what care do we want to have for our young children? What sacrifices are we willing to make for that care?
- If we won ten million dollars, how would we spend it? (This is a productive exercise which sheds a lot of light on our values and definition of ‘helping others.’)
Is your creed starting to feel full even though you have not yet begun to write it? ~smile~ There are so many topics we can add. Even if just a single line, a mention of your commitment to your family – whatever that looks like to you both – is an excellent addition to your personal and couple’s creeds. What is more foundational to our earthly experience than our families?
The Last Time I Saw Her
After years of trying to care for my grandmother in home, my family made the difficult decision to move Granny Jones into a nursing home. She told me, “Heather, I do not want to go, but I have an amazing peace about it.” Those words were a comfort to me as it was so hard to wrap my mind around the thought of her not living on her own anymore.
When I walked into her nursing facility just a short while before she passed, the nurse looked at me and inquired, “Are you the granddaughter? She is sure excited to see you.” That memory warms my heart and makes me smile all these years later. Our families matter. She gave sacrificially to my cousins and me when we were little. She gave wholeheartedly to my dad, aunt, and uncle when they were growing up. She gave respectfully to my granddaddy until his death in 1993. Then, after all that giving, a simple visit from us made her so happy. Those who care for us in our youth deserve our care in their twilight.
A child who is allowed to be disrespectful to his parents will not have true respect for anyone. – Billy Graham
Parents. They didn’t leave you when you were young. So don’t leave them when they are old. – Anonymous
Love your parents and treat them with loving care. For you will only know their value when you see their empty chair. – Anonymous
What does ‘taking care of family’ mean to you and your significant other?