teaching children about marriage

How Single Fathers Can Teach Their Children About Marriage

A few years ago, on a flight from Atlanta to Baltimore, I had the pleasure of sitting next to a great leader in the world of fatherhood. He asked me, “Matt, do you talk to the guys in your single dad group about marriage?” “No”, I replied, “It’s kind of a touchy subject to them.” He proceeded on, “Do you want your daughter to grow up and become a single parent?” Naturally, I do not, and that opened a much deeper discussion.

Imagine the following: a man buys a brand-new Mercedes and takes it out for a spin. He disregards road signs, speed laws, and has the music cranked up, just enjoying the day. A tight turn comes up fast and he loses control- putting the car right into a tree. What was once a beautiful and shiny machine has now become a pile of wreckage. Does this mean all Mercedes are prone to crash? Of course not. The accident happened because the driver (or drivers) were careless and did not abide by the safety rules. The same is true in marriage. Perhaps you found yourself divorced because of your personal choices, or those of your former spouse. Not all marriages are destined for disaster, and even if that was the case for you, you have an excellent opportunity to talk to your children about what a healthy and long-term marriage can look like. Here are three thoughts to remember when teaching children about marriage.

Be open with them

Have you talked with your kids yet about why you and their mom divorced? I encourage you to be open and honest, age-appropriate of course. Explain to them where you and Mom went wrong, being sure to guard their hearts with your words too.

Take ownership of your mistakes

Please don’t put all the blame on Mom, even if she is the one who filed for divorce. It takes two to make a marriage work and there is quite possibly fault on both ends. Make the decision early to set all bitterness and resentment aside so healing can take place. Doing this will give you a much clearer picture of your mistakes as well, and the chance to correct them to the best of your ability.

Remember why you are doing this

Going back to my friend’s question, what if I asked you if you wanted your children to grow up to be single parents also? I hope you would say the same as me: “Absolutely not!” The question then becomes, what are you willing to do to invest in them and teach them about what marriage is truly meant to look like? Are you able to set personal pain aside for the greater good of your children? That’s what parenting is all about.

Speak highly of marriage whenever you have the opportunity.

Dad, I have full confidence that you are able to lead your children in this crucial area of their lives. Speak highly of marriage whenever you have the opportunity. Be the leader they need and prepare them for their own marriage one day. Teach your daughter about being a good wife and what to look for in a husband. Raise your son to be the man his future wife can depend on and what qualities to seek in his bride. Last of all, when you see a couple that is modeling what a healthy marriage is, kneel down towards your child, point the couple out, and whisper in your child’s ear, “That’s what I want for you some day.”

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What would you like your future spouse to be like?”