A while ago my pastor did a sermon on preparing our kids for marriage. He said that when children express an interest in music, parents help them get prepared for being a musician, by getting them lessons, making them practice and supporting their recitals. The same goes for sports, parents buy the proper equipment, shuttle them to games and become involved in the activity with them. He said that when a young person expresses romantic interest in another person, the parents usually become flustered. Instead of preparing the kid with the tools necessary to have a healthy relationship, the parents often discourage the child from even pursuing a relationship either by using scare or guilt tactics.
He said that our sexuality is normal, kids are going to start catching feelings and it is a parent's responsibility to teach the kid how to process them. He said to tell a child to ignore the feelings or to convince them that they don't exist will do nothing for your credibility later. What if healthy relationship classes were taught in school? Why is it that you can teach sex ed, but, they don't teach you how to compromise with someone you love or how to disagree without being disagreeable? And since it's not taught in school, why aren't parents doing the job?
Many parents have had bad relationship experiences themselves and the simple truth is that they want better for their kids. But, they're missing the point entirely. If we all aborted the mission after encountering a failure or obstacle, how would we accomplish anything? I also think that there is not alot of pressure to stay married these days. I remember reading a study somewhere where they wanted to see if providing more options helps or hinders your ability to choose. It seemed pretty obvious to me. Given 2 choices or 20, you'll make a decision quicker with less options. We've been given the perception that there are a zillion love choices out there for us. The grass is greener, to the max.
In reality, each of us probably encounters a relatively few number of potentially successful life partners in our lifetime. The bottom line is, you have to choose smartly and then, like Tim Gunn (Project Runway) says, 'Make it work.' All too often, at the early signs of trouble, we're ready to run. But, what if you couldn't run? I read an article once that said people often leave a window open or door ajar in their marriage...some kind of escape clause. But, how different would we perceive marriage if we sealed the exits? Most of us only consider two options when we face trouble in our relationship, leave and be happy or stay and be miserable. But the third, most important option - stay and find happiness again, falls by the wayside. That's what we need to teach kids.
Sure, nobody wants their 16 year old to get pregnant, with a baby daddy and drop out of school. But, has anyone noticed that situation happens alot more now that society is a whole lot more 'aware' than when such things were taboo?? My point is, kids are going to be kids. It's our responsibility to be adults.
We have to teach our sons that women are to be respected...even those women/girls that don't realize it. As women, we also have to remember that we're the first example of a woman that our sons see, so we need to check ourselves first. I know it's hard for single moms, but you need to stop making your son your main man. You're crippling him.
Men need to teach their daughters that they are ladies and should carry themselves as such. Sit with her when she watches music videos and talk to her about how you perceive the images. While a young girl might think it's empowering to walk around with the dark meat peeping out from her shorty-short-shorts, she needs to know what you think when you see women on the street that look like that. Having a man say what men think is waay more relevant to some women than hearing a woman say it. She's going to choose a mate that treats her just like you do. So, if you're abusive, she may look for an abusive man as her mate, if you're absent, she may choose a man that never gives all of himself to her. In the same way that a woman can't teach a boy how to be a man, a woman can't teach a girl how a man should love her.
If we want the next generation to have healthy families, it starts with us.