Written by Christine Burrows
In this age of divorce, we hear lots of talk about staying together (or not) for the kids. I say we not only stay together, but work on making our marriages true sacraments for our kids’ sake. Each generation deserves an opportunity to be better at Christian living and growing in God’s favor.
So, why not use our own marriages to help our kids make it to heaven? Just as we try to advance a culture of marriage in the wake of a rising tide of divorce and casual sex, we owe it to our children to establish this culture at home so that they see strong marriage as the norm, aspire to enter into a holy marriage one day, and see such a blessed union as a step toward heaven.
How do we do this? While I’m certainly not a pro, I’ll throw out some ideas to ponder:
- Make your faith part of your family identity. Go to mass as a family. Regularly receive the sacraments together. Pray together. Read about saints and discuss the mass readings. Make sure your children know what it means to be a Catholic Christian so that they can explain it. And, just as importantly, try to help them see the marriage and the family as the core unit of their faith, and part of the larger community of the Church. This will help them begin to see faith as a central characteristic of their future spouse.
- Talk to your children about sex and the church’s teachings on sex. Do not leave this up to others – educators, friends, or the media. You will earn major points with your children even if you simply share with them the biology of their bodies BEFORE they learn it in health class. But, don’t stop there. Teach them about the beauty of marital sexuality so that they don’t become lured by extramarital sex and view birth control as normal. You don’t have to answer personal questions about your own sexuality, but do spin marital sex and the creation of babies as a true gift from God.
- Be physically affectionate with one another in front of the children. I’m not suggesting groping in the kitchen and then running upstairs while the kids sit down to eat dinner. But, it’s certainly good for kids to see their parents hug, kiss, touch as a healthy way of being affectionate – versus witnessing on TV or in movies non-married people, sometimes even strangers, jumping into bed with one another and calling that affection or love.
- Encourage your children to think about their calling. It’s important to think of marriage (or religious life) as a vocation–something God has a say in– not just an event they get to participate in. Speak openly with your children about why you got married to one another, and on what part of that decision you consulted God. If they think of marriage as a calling (not just a wedding day), they may begin to view dates and crushes as potential spouses who they might want to run by God before moving forward.
- Surround yourselves with other married friends. Do this not only for yourselves, but for your children. Feed the culture of marriage so that you feel bolstered in being part of a community of people who believe in marriage and want to see marriages survive. As far as the kids go, they should see that there are plenty of married people whose marriage might look different from their parents, but are still clinging to one another. They also need to believe that marriage doesn’t put an end to friendship and fun.
I have great hope for my children and their generation. While statistics don’t favor their ability to get married and stay married, I see a beautiful trend among them as they seek to find more meaning in their lives. They crave true intimacy and are beginning to see that casual sex isn’t the way to get there. So, let’s all join forces and give them some real inspiration – some hope in marriage that can reflect God’s true love for us through the gift of our spouses.
Let’s do it for the kids!