We live in an age when love, sex and intimacy seem to be many people’s epitome of happiness. Yes, we seek other ways to find happiness and fulfillment, but the rate of divorce and the percentage of single parent families compared with two-parent families tells me that parenting is either of less importance to parents than marriage or that they are uninformed about the effects of divorce on their children. Parents who leave an unhappy marriage for the sake of their children are not in possession of all the facts or are misguided in their belief that divorce is in the best interest of the children. The best wisdom out there says that children of divorce suffer more than children of unhappy marriages.
Here are 7 reasons why parents should put parenting before marriage.
1. Children need two parents more than they need a perfect home
The influence of both a male and female parent on a child’s development cannot be understated. A good mother, on balance brings a nurturing, protecting and comforting aspect to a child’s life, while a good father brings his child stability, security and strength. Mothers tend to be more emotional, fathers more rational. Mothers tend to be more understanding, fathers more decisive. A good mother may offer her child a shoulder to cry on while a good father may show his child how to get up and move on.
Of course, a good parent possesses all these qualities and shares the responsibility for providing their child with all their needs. But it is in the nature of a male parent to provide a child with answers and solutions and direction while it is more inherent in a female parent to be protective of a child’s emotional well-being and to be a good listener without feeling the need to give her child a logical solution to their problem.
Having both a male and female parent present in the home teaches a child how to explore and develop both the masculine and feminine aspects of their own character. In balanced adults there is a healthy presence of both male and female characteristics. In women, the balance will tend to be more feminine and in men, more masculine. If a child is to have the best chance to develop emotional stability then two parents are needed on a daily basis. Even the slightest change in the balance will have an adverse effect on a child’s emotional and intellectual development.
2. A child has a right to be brought up by two parents
Marriage is a choice that two people make for themselves. It is rarely a selfless or altruistic act. People marry because they find someone who brings them happiness and fulfilment in life. Of course, there is also the promise to live to make the other person happy. Even though the phrase “for better or for worse” is still often said in the marriage vows, more and more this promise is being broken as married couples find it’s a promise they are unable or unwilling to keep.
However, when a child is born into the marriage, it has rights which far outweigh the needs of the parents. Even though a couple desire to be fulfilled in their personal relationship with each other, a child has the right to be brought up by two loving, caring, selfless parents: parents who put their child’s interests before their own.
Parents rarely make a commitment to their children when they are born, but children ought to expect that their parents will do whatever it takes to give them a stable, loving home in which to grow and develop. In a good parent, the rights and needs of their child will always come before their own, whatever the cost to themselves.
3. To be a parent is a moral obligation – not a choice
There is never a time as long as a parent and a child are living when they will not be connected. Even if estranged, a parent will always be the parent to their child. There is no divorcing a child. There is no saying to a child ‘I’m sorry, I don’t love you anymore, this simply isn’t going to work’. But when two parents say that to each other, they are in some measure saying it to their child. Parents may put a spin on divorce by saying to the child ‘it’s better for you in the long run’ but the truth is – it isn’t. A child’s perspective will be ‘you don’t love me enough to stay together and make your marriage work’ – even if only subconsciously. While some may say ‘I’m glad my parents split up – I couldn’t stand the shouting’, what would they have said if their parents had found a way to make the marriage work in order to keep the family home together? Or are they even aware of the effects that growing up in a broken home has had on them?
The love between a husband and wife can wane or even be extinguished, but the love of a good parent is unconditional and unmovable. A marriage can breakdown and be dissolved, but the love that a good parent has for their child can never be diminished and their commitment to their child can never be undermined or broken. The commitment that a parent has to their child is not one based on choice, it’s one based on moral obligation. It would be even better if it were based on unconditional love. What lengths would a good parent go to to provide their child with the very best upbringing they could if they truly loved them more than themselves?
4. A child deserves and expects it
During their formative years, children depend upon both parents to show that they are committed to them. They need to see that they are loved and to know that their home is stable and secure. They need to know that no matter what storms the family has to face together, the foundations of the family home cannot be shaken. Children need the certainty that the love their parents have for them comes above their own personal happiness – that it indeed comes before their love for each other. When a parent puts a child’s interests second to their own it will make their child feel unloved and second-rate. The child will begin to doubt their own worth and their value to the parent. After all, what kind of love puts someone else second?