Dr. Shannon Warden teaches in the graduate counseling program at Wake Forest university. She co-authored a book with Dr. Gary Chapman titled, Things I Wish I'd Known Before We Became Parents. Dr. Warden says that parents are often the ones learning lessons in the early years of parenting.
One of the most important lessons parents can learn is to support their child, even if the child has made a mistake or acted out.
“That’s important. Children need that…they’re listening for it. It reminds them, ‘Hey I love you and we are together in this. You are my child and there is nothing you can do that is going to make me love you less.’”
When parents messes up, an apology will go a long way to heal a broken relationship. Sometimes, saying we are sorry goes a long way to stay connected.
“That apology restores the relationship. That connectedness is going to be something that we need all the way through our lives. As I’ve talked to older parents, and one of the things that they wish they had done was to connect better.”
Becoming parents also changes the marriage relationship. Dr. Warden encourages couples to invest in each other and to take time to keep the marriage strong. Couples sometimes regret not putting in that extra time into the marriage relationship, even during the busy years of parenting.
“Sometimes parents will sit in a counseling session and say, ‘I wish I would have spent more time on our marriage. Maybe we would still be married. Or maybe we would be closer today.”
Even when life gets busy, it’s especially important for couples to make the marriage relationship a priority.
“Start right now. No excuses. Start right now prioritizing your marriage and just even in the littlest way, like speaking each other’s love language and making time for each other. Start using all of these great love languages tools right now. Marriage is not going to run on auto-pilot. It’s not going to fly itself.”
Shannon Warden is an assistant teaching professor at Wake Forest University where she teaches in the graduate counseling program. She is also the director of counseling and director of women’s ministries at Triad Baptist Church in Kernersville, North Carolina.