I read an article this morning that sparked a fire in my heart. It was titled, How to Teach Your Kid to Marry the Right Person. The writer points to the mistakes she made in her own life and wishes that her parents had stepped in to help her. Who knew parents had such power?
Parents have an obligation to help guide their kids to good choices. Now, before you jump on my Facebook feed and chew my ear about how parents shouldn’t meddle in anything to do with their kids futures….let me be clear, YES HECK THEY SHOULD!
What is it about freedom to choose that convinces intelligent people to think that they have no right to try to influence THEIR OWN CHILDREN to make good choices? People. Please.
We get one shot at this parenting gig. It doesn’t bode well for us to wing it or “hope” all will go in their favor. Parenting is an intentional act. We either do it or we don’t. Helping mold our kids into healthy, successful adults takes a lot of investment. It also takes dedication…..and tenacity.
So, imagine their future marriages?
If I asked, I would bet that NO ONE would say that their biggest hopes for their kids futures are rocky relationships, divorces or broken homes. Yet, most parents tend to back off or look the other way when their young teens or adults dabble in unhealthy relationships. You know, just not comfortable with “saying” anything. Bad idea.
Do you remember being 18? 22? 27?
What did you know about life then? What kind of dumb mistakes did you make? Could you have taken a better path for yourself if someone would have intervened? I believe so and I don’t even know who you are reading this. You might be someone’s pastor or an author of deep spiritual writings. Mistakes manage to affect each of us, no matter who we turn out to be later in life. Some mistakes, take our whole lives to get over if we ever even do.
So, how do parents help their kids to choose a spouse?
First, by being a great example. Trust me when I say, my kids know the honest truth about who I am and who their dad is. Two very flawed and broken people who’ve tried countless ways to destroy one another during the last 26 years. We’ve been good to one another, we’ve been mean. We’ve helped and we’ve hurt. We’ve argued and we’ve made up. We’ve struggled and we’ve soared. We’ve shunned and we’ve forgiven. Through all of our weak pathetic attempts to outdo one another (hey, first-borns…can I get an amen?) we had one thing that grounded us, G O D! God wouldn’t leave the two of us alone in our sin. Every single fuss, every little frustration….God stayed first in our hearts. Because of that, we genuinely had to ask & seek forgiveness for the wrongs built up between us.
Our kids had a front row seat in all of that. They know the difference between real and not real forgiveness.
Second, talk about relationships openly. We’ve never tried to hide stuff from our kids. They’re too smart anyway. They’ll figure it out. Life is bumpy. Money problems happen, jobs disappear, outside influences sneak in, health problem take over….life has no guarantees. Other than, issues will creep into every persons life. How we deal is important. How other people deal is too. It’s a good thing to pay attention to how others handle their problems and to decide what’s healthy and not so healthy with your kids. Believe me, they will make a lot of their own personal decisions throughout life based on what they’ve learned from their own environment at home.
Third, pray for them and for their future spouse. It’s important that they know you are praying too. Be honest about your hopes for them and that you are trusting God to provide them with the perfect person to spend the rest of their lives with. A marriage relationship is the biggest decision our kids will ever make. EVER MAKE. It is a commitment like none other. Society may try to make that decision seem disposable….however, it is not. Marriage is forever, whether it works out or doesn’t. You are forever linked through the act of marriage to that person for the rest of your live long days. Ask any divorced person.
Fourth, speak up. It’s going to happen, your kids are going to date a few losers. Don’t be shy about your opinion. That doesn’t mean, go bang on their heads until they listen. It means, use the opportunities you have to speak openly about the qualities you see or don’t see in that person. Ask good questions, help your child learn to ask good questions too. Your advice might fall on deaf ears, but you won’t have to answer them later as to WHY YOU DIDN’T SPEAK UP! If you’ve ever been love-struck by a not-so-good choice of a future spouse and realized it just in time then you know how thankful you feel that you didn’t make the biggest mistake of your life by marrying them. Do the same for your kids. They need guidance.
Every parent owes their kids help in this area. But, I also realize a big reason parents aren’t helping is because they can’t even get their own relationships right. Still, I think if you don’t want your kids to make the same mistakes you made….you would want to speak up even more.
Here are some great questions to discuss with your kids/young adults about the idea of marriage.
1) Are you ready for the commitment that comes with marriage?
2) What qualities are you looking for in a future spouse?
3) How do you handle conflict, stress, money, children, poor health, job loss? What do you need in a spouse regarding those issues?
4) What are your personal goals? Do you have personal goals for a future spouse?
5) Where do you see yourself, your marriage, your life in 5, 10, 20 years?
6) How important is working out hard marriage problems? Will you do counseling? Divorce? Separate? Or will you stick it out?
7) Will money be a source of discord in your marriage?
8) Is faith important to you when choosing a forever spouse?
9) Does family matter when deciding who to marry?
10) Are you prepared for the future if an unplanned pregnancy occurs? Or is the relationship just not that special after all to commit to marriage?
Choosing a spouse is a lot like rolling the dice. No joke. I think about my own decision 26 years ago and wonder how I got so lucky. I know that my 22 year old brain was a mixed bag of nuts. Still, God blessed me and I’m forever grateful.
I knew, after dating all the stinky fish in the sea that the kind of man I wanted was the one I found in my hubby. He wasn’t perfect, he didn’t have a stacked up bank account, he didn’t see everything in life with the same eyes as me….but, I knew.
Hopefully, our kids will know too.
* Don’t worry though, we will lovingly give our advice. 😉