Hi everyone, Papa Natural here with an update. I posted this quote on the Mama Natural Facebook page recently, and it just blew up. So far, the post has reached over 17 million people, earned 600,000 likes, and has been shared over 140,000 times.

Why the broad reach? Because the post turned out to be really divisive. Of the 11,000 comments, about half were negative.

negative comments screenshot

When a lot of negativity comes in like this, our instinct is to take the post down. But we left it up because I totally stand by it.

In this post, I’ll tell you why.

The top two comments.

The two top comments perfectly illustrate the way people are split over this quote.

Top two comments screenshot father loves mother

Of course it is important to love your kids.

It goes without saying that your kids need and deserve your love. BUT, if you’re in a relationship, your partner comes first.

This is tough for some people to hear, but just about every relationship expert agrees. Now there are times when a child’s immediate needs might come first momentarily, but ultimately the marriage bond has to be paramount.

Your marriage comes first. Then your kids.

When it’s the other way around, bad things happen. When kids are the center of your universe, they grow up thinking they *are* the center of the universe. This can cause problems when they’re older and enter the “real” world.

And your marriage suffers. I’ve seen this firsthand with some couples we know. Their mutual focus on the kids instead of each other was a way to avoid intimacy and the issues in their marriage. And that marriage ended as you would expect.

Teaching your kids how to love is important too.

Putting your relationship first is part of what this quote is getting at. Teaching your kids how to love is the other part.

Kids are so sensitive and observant. They pick up everything. And they model whatever we do. If a boy sees his father treating his mother poorly, he is likely to believe that’s an acceptable way to treat women. And if a girl sees her father disrespecting her mother, she’s more likely to believe this is an allowable way for men to treat her.

Compare this to kids who see their parents expressing true love toward one another. What will those kids grow up believing?

There are also few things that provide more security than children knowing that their parents are a united pair. As long as things are good with mom and dad, kids feel like they can face anything.

But what if you’re no longer together with your partner?

I think this is what threatened so many people. As we all know, many couples split up.

But here’s the deal. You don’t need to be in love with your partner – or even necessarily like them – in order to love them.

When most people think of love, they jump straight to romantic or sexual attraction. But there are many flavors of love, and romantic is just one of them.

One of the primary definitions of love is highlighted in this screenshot from Merriam-Webster:

screenshot of a definition of love

If having kids together isn’t a common interest, I don’t know what is.

For parents who are separated, the key point is to respect your partner, be civil with them, for the sake of the child that you brought into the world together. This kind of love is an action, not a feeling.

I’m living proof of this.

My parents divorced when I was 2 years old. But one thing my dad never did was diss my mom. In fact, he went out of his way to say he was grateful for her, that he couldn’t think of a better person to be a mother to his children. And, honestly, that statement stuck with me my whole life; his actions toward her made a huge impact on me.

The important thing is to treat your spouse with respect and love and let your kids see it. And that may mean withholding judgment, or biting your tongue from time to time.

Final note.

Of course this quote goes both ways. The most important thing a mother can do for her children is to love their father.

Or, better yet: The most important thing a parent can do for their children is to love the co-parent.

If you’re separated from your partner, try to empathize with them, speak well of them, remember what you DID love about them, and show that love to your kids.

If you are with your partner, know that a strong relationship is one of the greatest gifts you can give to your kids.

What do you think?

Do you agree with this quote? Does it stir up any conflicting feelings in you? Share your thoughts in the comments below.