Putting Your Husband Before Your Kids Makes You Selfish, Not a Better Wife

I’ve come across a few blog posts and articles as well as comments on this very site right here purporting that a woman should put her husband before her kids.  She should also put God before her husband and her kids according to the writers, but I’m not here to dispute that one.

When I read those words and the words of others who support this message, all I can think is, WHAT THE FUDDLE FRACK?!?!

There really are women out there who believe their husbands come first and their children second.  This is not a one-line joke, nor is it a news story straight outta The Onion.  It’s a legit belief some of our sisters out there sing, and it’s one I can’t even wrap my mind around.

I have so many problems with this line of thinking, it’s tough to know where to start.  Aside from making it more understandable why many children feel isolated, unappreciated, and troubled, there’s this stuff:

If you are married to a man who believes he should come before your children, jump off that moving train STAT. 

This is banana berries.  Any man and father worth a damn would agree that his child’s needs come before his own.  Unless he’s a selfish, chauvinist man baby.  Then he would not agree and would most likely scream his disagreement between demands that you find the remote for him and cook his damn dinner already, woman.

Putting a man before your children is not a sign of love; it’s a sign that your priorities are all askew. 

I love my husband dearly.  He knows this because I tell him often and do nice things for him and massage his head when he has a headache and leave the last calamari on the appetizer tray for him to eat.  I do not need to sacrifice my children before him in the event we encounter a murderer (I know this is extreme, but this is what I think of when women argue we should put our husbands ahead of our children) or stroke his feelings before stroking my children’s feelings in order for him to know how much he means to me.  In fact, he would probably stage an intervention and have me hauled off in a strait jacket  if I ever promised to rescue him from a burning building before our boys — all this right before he moved them and himself far, far away from Miss Loony Pants over here.  I’m sure of it.

Putting your husband before your children in an attempt to foster a positive marriage example for your kids doesn’t work because when they sense their needs come second to their dad’s, they know they’re stuck at Dysfunction Junction. 

Kids are super smart.  They can totally tell when their parents are self-absorbed narcissists and more into their relationship than their own spawn.  You want to raise a brood one level crazier than everybody else’s?  Make it clear they’re #3 on your seniority list.  That should do it.

Your children deserve a mother and father who would do anything for them, including sacrificing their own happiness. 

I’ll agree you can’t be a very good parent if you’re unhappy yourself.  But you definitely can’t be a good parent if you put your partner’s or your own happiness ahead of your kids’.

It is instinctual to want to protect your young above all else. 

And if it’s not, you shouldn’t have children.  For reals.  Because something is undeniably the matter with you.  A mother should be willing to do anything — and I mean anything — to keep her kids safe and secure.  If your husband’s security comes before theirs, you’ve got 99 problems, 98 of which are psychological.

I realize them’s fightin’ words, but I’m serious.  I can NOT understand how a mother could place anyone above her children, self included.  Children need to know their parents will guard them against danger and cultivate their senses of confidence and contentment no matter what — not just if and when Daddy’s ego has been sufficiently fondled.


Given the varying comments I’ve received on this post, I offer this clarifying one I posted on my Facebook page:

I think a little context is necessary here, and people can take it or leave it.

1) I wrote this post several years ago after a boy in my area had been beaten to death by his father for peeing his pants on the couch. He was 4. His father kicked and beat him in his privates to the point where they were unrecognizable to the coroner. His mother did nothing and even defended the father. He came before the well-being of her child.

2) I believe it is possible to have a loving, successful relationship with one’s spouse, setting an example for one’s kids, while at the same time making it clear that kids’ needs will always come first. We actually do have a fortunately amazing relationship. Friends have commented, “Wow. You guys really like each other.” Yeah, we do. A lot. And that probably accounts for our ability to put our kids first. I and we are lucky in that regard. And I know this and am thankful for this. This is why my need for a date night away or extra sleep will never interfere with my kids’ needs. Theirs will take priority. That’s what I signed up for when I had kids, and it fucking sucks to be run dry a lot of times, but this is parenthood. As a lot of people have said, my husband and I only have these kids for 18 years. There will be ample time for jet-setting and date nights later. Right now, they should be our focus. And they are.

3) A couple can love and be devoted to one another and still agree their children deserve the best protection, security, and love their parents can afford, even when it interferes with the parents’ immediate desires for themselves. Entering into parenthood is agreeing to enter into a kind of selflessness one has never endured before. It is agreeing to put someone else before oneself. I will be with my husband for life, and our relationship is important. So is our kids’ well-being. It takes precedence over our immediate leisure and relaxation. We find time for ourselves, but never to the detriment of our kids.

4) Couples who love one another should not take offense or feel as though because they love their spouses, this means they don’t love their kids. The two are not mutually exclusive. But prioritizing one’s own desires above a child’s? That’s where I take issue (particularly when it results in something such as that which I mention in number 1). You can love and be devoted to one another AND weather the trying years of parenthood, making sacrifices for one’s kids at the same time. If my relationship needs so much work that it might not weather parenthood, or if it depends on or results in harm to my children, that is a relationship not meant to be. Every relationship takes work. But I’m not prepared to dismiss my kids’ needs to make sure I’m not alone once they leave. Right now, it’s not about me looking out for number one. It’s about me making sure I provide my kids with the love and protection they need.

At the end of the day, if I have to choose between saving myself (and my relationship) and saving my kids, I will save them. Thankfully, I have a spouse who would never demand that choice. And that’s a privilege that undoubtedly skews my perspective.