Marriage, Good Kids
If a mother and father are really
satisfied with their marriage and are giving to one another, they
have a lot to give to their children. Children can sense if their
parents really love each other. They can see them caring for
each other, encouraging each other, building up each other. They
can rest comfortably in the security of knowing their parents'
marriage is strong.
Children have a very fine set of
antennas sticking out. They can pick up disruption in a marital
relationship. They know when Mommy or Daddy is unhappy. They
know when there is bickering, even if the parents go into another
room to fight. They are sensitive, and they pick up discord.
When children are
positive their parents love each other and love them, they have
a greater opportunity to meet their own potential, because they
are not distracted by worries about what is going on at home.
What kind of marriage, then, is good for nurturing children?
I think a number of
elements are needed both for the marriage and for the children.
In a healthy
marriage, both the spouses are free to be who they are. Neither
one is dominated by the other, and both feel secure because of
the other's support. Both have the opportunity to be
themselves; both can develop their own unique qualities.
counseling practice, I often see marriages where one person
tries to dominate the other. The children pick that up quickly
and tend to join the stronger spouse in exploiting the
weaker. This is bad for the children as well as for the
husband and the wife have learned to express their feelings
and emotions, and thus are free to communicate deeply
and openly with each other. In doing this, they set a good
model of communication for their children.
allotted for nurturing the marriage. The spouses do not
make their time together the last item on the agenda. Instead,
they schedule time to be together--just the two of them. The
children observe this and see that the marriage relationship
is really important to their parents.
a healthy expression of sexuality. The children
are aware of the fact that the mother and father are sexual
beings. They see their parents treating each other with love
and affection, and they know their parents can talk about
sexuality without embarrassment or disgust. The children
know they can ask specific questions about sex and get an
honest answer from either parent.
and wife encourage each other. They don't compete with or
put down each other, but rather stand behind each other and
give support. The children will catch this attitude and use it
with their own spouses--if not always with their siblings!
are able to express differences of opinion and resolve
the issues. They are able to solve problems and deal with
conflict in a healthy way. This shows the children the
difference between disagreeing and behaving disagreeably.
often left out of today’s marriages, is that the
husband and wife are spiritually united. A family is
strengthened when the parents share a strong faith in God. It
is good for the parents to share spiritual truths with the
children, as long as they can do it without preaching. It is
healthy for children to see their parents praying, both
individually and together.
No marriage is
perfect, of course, just as no individuals are perfect. That
doesn't mean we should give up, however, and settle for less
than our best. I would rather keep holding out realistic ideals
for people to work toward.
Parents don't need
to pretend to be perfect. They can be open with their children
and say, "Look, we haven't arrived and we never will arrive,
but here's something we've learned along the way."
It's good for
parents to admit to their children that they have made mistakes in
their marriage relationship and in their parenting. The children
know this anyway, but it helps for them to hear their parents
say it. Then the parents can add, "But we're trying to
correct our mistakes, and we're continuing to grow in our
By saying this, parents are giving
their children a model of growth, not perfection--and a growing
marriage is a good environment for growing kids.