Why a Healthy Marriage Matters for Kids

Your relationship with your partner affects kids in ways you wouldn’t expect. Use these 3 tips for a healthier marriage from expert Dr. Les Parrott
Last Updated
April 22, 2019
posted on
December 20, 2016
Minute Read

Studies overwhelmingly show that marriage is good for our kids. Marriage offers emotional and financial stability to our children, and it’s better than alternatives like cohabitation.

Yet, so often we hear people talk negatively about marriage, saying marriage causes you to lose your freedom. It’s the old “ball and chain.” This type of language is scaring our children away from marriage, something that is actually very healthy for them and will help them be successful adults.

Parents, we have to show our kids that marriage can be great again.

Parents, we have to show our kids that marriage can be great again.

Even if your marriage isn’t, or wasn’t, great, you can still instill hope in your child that they will have a lasting and strong marriage one day.

I recently spoke with clinical psychologist and marriage expert Dr. Les Parrott on my Parenting Great Kids podcast about this very topic.

Les and his wife, Leslie, speak all over the country promoting stronger and life-long marriages. They recently conducted a study out of the University of Chicago to find out what young people think about marriage. From that study, they found that 85% of adults age 18-35 hope to be married one day, and 82% believe their marriage will be for life.

This proves that marriage is not becoming culturally irrelevant; most people still believe in it and should.

If you want to raise your child to have a healthy marriage one day, Les has three suggestions:

Take a good look at your own relationship.

Realize how much is being “caught” rather than taught. You have to model a good marriage in order for your child to have one or want one someday. Live it; don’t just preach it.

Even if your marriage has failed, or is struggling right now, that doesn’t mean your kids will not have a successful marriage one day. Who says our children can’t be more successful at marriage than we are?

Give your child the gift of empathy.

The single most important skill you can teach your child is empathy, and empathy is critical for any healthy marriage.

The single most important skill you can teach and model for your child is empathy. 

But empathy isn’t something you can buy and put in a box. It’s something you have to model. How? There are many different ways:

Expose your child to how other people live by taking them on a mission trip or by visiting the homeless in your community.

Debrief a movie together by asking questions like, “What character do you identify with? What do you think it was like for the other characters in the film?”

Debrief their day at school with them. If they’re complaining about a teacher ask something simple such as, “What do you think your teacher’s day was like?”

Empathy is not a natural skill for children. It must be taught to them and modeled for them by you.

Empathy is not a natural skill for children. It must be taught to them and modeled for them by you.

Stress the importance of emotional health.

You’ve heard it said that a marriage can only be as healthy as the least healthy person in it. This is absolutely true.

Les recently sat down with Neil Warren, the founder of dating website eHarmony. Les asked Neil what he thought was the most important marriage advice he could give. What was Neil’s response? Get yourself healthy before you get married.

Help your child grow up to be emotionally intelligent. Help them understand their own personalities and be aware of their God-given design. The healthier they are before they get married, the more healthy their marriage will be.

Modeling emotional health and intelligence for your kids now helps prepare them for marriage later.

Parents, chances are your child hopes to be married one day. Show him/her how great it can be. Help her become the best version of herself and you will be setting her up for a happy, healthy and successful marriage.

To learn more about Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott, visit their website at www.LesandLeslie.com.

Dr. Meg Meeker, MD

Practicing pediatrician, parent, grandparent, coach, speaker, and author. Say hello @MegMeekerMD

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