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How to Raise a Child Who Believes in Marriage

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Dr. Meg Meeker

Yesterday was Valentine’s Day.

Valentine’s Day is an opportunity to celebrate love, marriage, and relationships. As parents, it’s also an opportunity to reflect on what sort of relationship you hope your child will have one day.

The truth is, despite what popular culture says, it is good for your child to desire to be married because marriage is good for us. It’s good for us emotionally, physically, financially and developmentally. But with a steadily climbing divorce rate, and cohabitation rate, it’s getting harder and harder to convince our children to look forward to marriage.

I recently spoke with my friend and marriage expert Dr. Les Parrott. Les and his wife, Leslie, speak all over the country promoting stronger and life-long marriages.

Dr. Parrott says that despite the negative messages kids are hearing about marriage in the media and on T.V., in his research he has found that 86 percent of young people still desire to be married one day, and 82 percent of that 86 percent believe that marriage will be for life.

As a parent, you can encourage your child to desire a healthy marriage one day. How? Here are a few tips from Dr. Parrott.

Model a great marriage.

The number one way to ensure your child will desire a healthy marriage is to model one at home. More is caught than taught. You’ve heard that countless times, and it is true. Dr. Parrot describes the home as a child’s “university of relationships, not just for marriage, but for everything.” So that’s where it has to start—in your own home. Take a good look at your own marriage first before expecting your child will want to be married one day.

Take a good look at your own marriage first before expecting your child will want to be married one day.

Give the gift of empathy.

Dr. Parrott says empathy is what makes a healthy marriage. He jokes that he and his wife often wish they could give newlyweds a box of empathy as a wedding gift.

You can start teaching your child empathy very early on in her life. For example, if your child comes to you with a problem, refrain from giving advice right away. Instead, Dr. Parrot says to clarify the content with a phrase like, “It sounds like you’re saying…” Then, reflect your child’s feelings with a phrase like, “It sounds like you might be feeling this way…” This will allow your child to know that you can empathize with her, and will start to teach her how to empathize with others, building a strong foundation for the empathy she will need in marriage one day.

Focus on personal health and well-being.

Dr. Parrott says a healthy marriage is only as healthy as the least healthy person in it. To have a strong marriage, you must become a strong and healthy individual. You can instill the importance of personal health and well-being in your child by making him aware of who he is and how God created him to be individually. When a child grows up knowing he doesn’t need someone else to complete him or make him happy, he will be a healthy adult prepared for a healthy marriage.

As you celebrated Valentine’s Day with the ones you love, remember this holiday as an opportunity to think about what your hopes are for your child’s future relationship one day and how you might help guide him there.

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