Family Planning

We’ve all heard the phrase “family planning”.  Most of the time when we hear “family planning” we think about a conversation regarding when to have children or how many children to have.  Let’s change the connotation of this phrase to something else.  Let’s start to have a vision for our families.  Let’s start having a plan for the type of families we will be and the type of people that will be developed in these families.

I’ve created this acronym to help you remember what a plan really is.  A plan is a Purposeful Layout of Actions Needed.  Here are some actions that will help create a strong family:

PLAN THE MARRIAGE:  When a man and a woman become engaged the planning of the marriage sometimes takes a back seat to the planning of the wedding.  Many Americans spend months even years planning for one day, but It is important for an engaged couple to sit together and write what each person envisions for the family that is about to be created.  As each person begins to write their plans, it’s important to note which areas both people agree on and which areas pose a difference.  When differences are discovered it’s important to talk openly and honestly about the difference and reach a comfortable agreement for both people. There are some essential issues to discuss during this time.  Consider questions like how will we solve problems with in-laws?  Will we have children?  Will we practice the same religion?  Consulting a counselor during this process is very beneficial.  If you are already married it’s not too late to do this with your spouse.  You can start now.

PLAN THE MONEY:  People laugh when I suggest engaged couples exchange credit reports, but differences in money account for a substantial amount of divorces.  It is important to talk about each person’s spending habits.  Some people love to shop while other people love to save.  If these two people don’t discuss their plans there is usually a problem that can snowball into something neither person expected.  It is important to have a financial goal for the family so that both parties can agree on purchases, savings, and investing.  Furthermore, Mom and Dad’s spending patterns are usually passed on to the children.  What financial future do you want for your children?   Financial planning seminars and workshops are available in many venues.  You could even select a financial planner together who is neutral to help you make those goals.

PLAN THE MUNCHKINS:  Who doesn’t love a brand new bouncing baby?  Admit it; it’s difficult to not just want to kiss the face of a beautiful babe. The point to remember is that the marriage came first and those cute little munchkins come after your spouse.  Many couples forget that one of the most important things a parent can give a child is two happily married parents.  Parents model relationships for their children and hopefully the children of the marriage will take the good they have seen and add to if their futures include marriage.  It’s important for parents to set boundaries for their children.  It is detrimental to allow children to become the center of everything.  Parents must communicate to their children that they have a relationship that also needs attention.  Kick those kids out of your bed!  We’re not talking about infants we are talking about old toddlers and above. Those children need to foster independence and husband and wife need to be able to connect and reconnect.   Parents need a safe spot, a place where they can hold each other and replenish themselves for the days ahead.  The marriage bedroom is that place.  I heard it said once:  “if there is no contact, there is no contract”.  Husband and wife need contact and that contact helps maintain the marital contract.  Make sure you put each other first.  Don’t lose your love in the hustle and bustle of parenting.

These three actions are only the tip of the iceberg, but they are a great place to start.  Sit down today with your family and write the plan for what you want your family to be.  Remember family matters.