Sat | Aug 19, 2017

Couple-focused relationship critical to family life - Family therapist

Published:Saturday | April 8, 2017 | 4:00 AMShanna Kaye Monteith
Barry Davidson

"The most important person in an army is the general. The most important person in a corporation is the chief executive officer. The most important person in a classroom is the teacher. And the most important persons in the family are the parents."

- John Rosemond, parenting expert.

Undoubtedly, the silent answer to the unasked question of 'who matters most in the family' is children. However, psychologists and parenting experts worldwide have taken another outlook.

Dr Barry Davidson, marriage and family therapist and chief executive officer of Family Life Ministries, told Family & Religion that the husband-and-wife relationship is the only relationship that ought to be permanent - until death.

"All other relationships are temporary: a parent-child relationship is temporary. Parents give their children roots and then give them wings. The goal of parenting is to produce responsible human beings, who, after getting wings, are able to function independently of their parents," he said.

Quoting and breaking down a popular scripture passage from the Bible, Davidson supported his claim that the union between wife and husband should be held in the highest regard.

Genesis 2 verses 24 and 25 highlighted, in stages, the value of each familial relationship.

According to Davidson: "[The scripture] gives the foundation for a healthy marriage. "For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother", [this part speaks to] severance "and shall cleave to his wife" (permanence) "and shall become one flesh" (unity) "and the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed" (sexual intimacy)."

 

DOMESTIC DEFECTIVENESS

 

The widespread misconception of who takes precedence in the family, according to Davidson, contributes greatly to the level of domestic defectiveness in Jamaica.

The family expert explained that because parents are not focused enough on building the relationship with each other, they sometimes allow the bond to fall apart and children often get caught in the middle being used as pawns, eventually destroying them.

"Parents must be first committed to each other and then committed to the children. When parents truly love each other, loving their children unconditionally (a product of their sexual intimacy) becomes easy. They are then able to discipline their children with love (firmness plus relationship) and consistency. With mother and father being on the same page and setting a positive example for the children," he said, adding that the best gift parents can give to their children is for them to observe them genuinely loving each other.

"Children raised in a healthy marriage where husband and wife experience mutual love and mutual submission are usually emotionally and mentally healthy. The parents' first priority should be to each other and then to the children.

In Jamaica, unfortunately, this is not usually the case. we are children-focused and not couple-focused. I truly believe that this is at the root of our many dysfunctional families," he said.

familyandreligion@gleanerjm.com