The biggest mistake your child can make is marrying the wrong person. There is simply no way for your child to live the kind of life you dream for them if they screw up here. Fact is, we all raise our children with this essential goal in mind – We want them to live productive, fulfilling and faithful lives that make a positive difference in this world. For almost every child, that kind of vision includes starting a family of his or her own. Wanting our kids to marry the right person is front and center for our hopes.
The days of marriage brokering may be over (think Fiddler on the Roof), but there is still a lot we can do to stack the odds in our child’s favor.
Example, example, example. Be the kind of man you’d like your daughter to marry; be the kind of man your son should be when he’s a husband.
Cultivate a home that models qualities you want your child to value. Promote love, respect, faithfulness, kindness, forgiveness and grace.
Perfect loves casts out fear. Parents cannot bully their children into “correct decisions.” But we can love them into thinking more clearly. We can teach them love by living our love for them with eloquence and joy.
Welcome the young people your children love into your home. In other words, don’t place yourself outside of the loop when it comes to who makes a difference in your child’s life.
Don’t force relationships underground. Responding harshly to love interests you disapprove of leads to defensive reactions everyone regrets later.
Nurture open communication with your child. Does your child know you as a reliable participant in their important decision-making conversations? Or has experience taught your child to close you out when the chips are down? Active listening, without rushing to judgment, can lay the groundwork for better choices. If your child is comfortable telling you the truth, it’s often unnecessary to point out the obvious.
Don’t be afraid to ask hard questions. Interrogation may not be appropriate - but asking difficult questions in the context of love and concern is.
Do everything you can to promote your child’s education. It’s a fact. The more options your child has, the more discretion that child will use in making long-term decisions. Studies show that marriage satisfaction tends to increase with education levels. More school = less divorce. Bottom line - young people who hang around high-achieving peers tend to identify with the values they’re exposed to.
Share your family stories. Does your child know how you met your spouse? Have you shared your own decision-making processes? Are you honest about the struggles you went through when faced with tough choices?
Learn to trust your child. Trust is built over time. But sometimes parents hold on to control so long that trust is breached. Respect goes both ways; respect has to be given as much as it is earned.
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