It’s Wedding Season and we as parents want the best for our children and to insure that their marriages will last to prevent as much heartache as we can. Fortunately or unfortunately, there will be heartache in your children’s marriage. I have NEVER seen a perfectly blissful marriage. But there are things that we can do as parents to help our children be prepared for their own marriages and have the healthiest marriage possible.
- Encouraging your children in their marriage does not start at the wedding date or premarital counseling or engagement. It’s starts from the day you bring your child into your home. You see, the best way to teach our children is to live, love and be the example. That can be a bit overwhelming, and you might think, my kids don’t have a chance. I look back and it’s so easy to see all the mistakes we have made, but believe me, if you have tried to make a good marriage there is good too and they will see it.
- Sometimes it’s healthy to let your children see you disagree respectfully with each other. The screaming, manipulative matches aren’t helpful, but we won’t always agree and when we learn to resolve conflict respectfully they acquire an example to follow.
- Stay faithful and keep your promises. The example of commitment is one of the strongest examples you can show your children. Don’t ever mention the “D” word to your children. That is very threatening to them.
- Demonstrate Date-Nights or the importance of time alone with your spouse. It’s ok to leave your children and show them you enjoy your spouse.
- Say I’m sorry, or admit when you’ve done it wrong, both to your child and to your spouse. When they learn this in the home they are more likely to practice it in their own home.
- Talk to your children and be present when they are dating. Get to know their friends. If you see some unhealthy traits it’s your responsibility to mention them, but you can’t make them break up. This can be tricky because as teens they think we just don’t want them to date or we don’t like that person. When many times, we can see as their parent that the match might have more challenges than Bliss. I’ve seen where parents will tell me “I’m worried about this boy, he doesn’t have a good track record” or “He’s been with many different girls” or “He’s from a different culture and I’m not sure that will work”, or “His family has different values than we do”. Respectfully bring these up, but then you must leave it as their choice. I remember breaking up with a couple of boyfriends when I knew my parents saw something questionable.
- Let them know that you think Pre-marital counseling is important. One thing we did was to let our kids know that we would only give them money for the wedding once they fulfilled the pre-marital counseling. I preferred counseling with an assessment and that was evidence based. I have counseled too many families that said they went through pre-marital counseling that consisted of “Don’t let the Sun go Down on Your Anger” or “Argue Naked” or some not so evidence based material. Which you can find VERY ‘Biblically Based Counseling that is Evidence based too. After all wasn’t God the originator of marriage. I believe they should be taught some practical skills and bring up the areas where they could have challenges. See our website under engagement for some good programs that we recommend in this area.
- Let your children know what to expect as far as what you will pay etc. before the wedding. Give them a budget. This gives them a live example of how to live on a budget.
- Give them freedom to do the wedding their way, not yours. Try to keep your opinions to yourself unless asked. That’s really hard, isn’t it? They are now learning how to work together and they need this experience. It can definitely give them the ability to work things through. And you are learning how to let them be a couple and grown up!
- Love and accept your new in-law as your own.
- Do not criticize them to your child, their children or their siblings or your family. You might express concern between you and your spouse, but keep it there. How many marriages have made it and are basically healthy when everyone questioned whether it would make it a week? They need encouragement not criticism. Especially once children come along.
- Find the good in their relationship and encourage it in as many ways as possible.
- Encourage them and love their children. Don’t we all want that. Being a parent of adult children can be challenging. We might not agree with the way they spend their money, how they are raising their children or how they keep their house, but it’s their time to make mistakes and hopefully they won’t choose long-lasting devastating mistakes. Be there to help when they do make mistakes, but don’t take over, support and let them learn from their mistakes.
Most important, be the parent you wish you had. Choose to encourage not criticize and judge. And Good luck to all of our new couples. I hope you will one day be able to say, I have the BEST Mother-in-Law or Father-in-Law! and of course the BEST PARENTS!!!