(The column below is an excerpt from my book, Retro Parenting.)
Parents want their children to become decent, law abiding, productive adults who know how to love and be loved but one more thing should be considered---------how does a parent influence their children to pick safe and decent friends and eventually, a life partner who will make the above stated goals possible? This is a consideration ignored by many American parents.
How our children select their friends and life partners should be a major concern of modern day parents. These lessons should begin at a very young age. We want our kids to have friends who will not endanger them by destructive behavior and bad example. As they learn to pick decent friends, so might we teach how to pick life partners, with whom to share compatible goals and standards of behavior? These lessons should be subtle and consistent, starting by setting an example in your own relationship with your spouse and your friends.
Honor your husband/wife by word and deed and remind children that their lives are good because their parents love them and each other. It is wonderful to have a kind daddy that loves us. Or, your mommy loves you and takes such good care of you, we should be very grateful for that. Good news for little ears!
As your children grow older, try being more specific. Discuss what kind of husband or wife they would like to marry. Then slip in the following rules of the road.
Thou shalt marry someone who knows and understands the value and benefits of good work habits. For if thou dost, thou wilt always have what thou needs.
Thou shalt marry someone who is kind, thoughtful and honest. For being kind, thoughtful and honest worketh wonders in a marriage.
Thou shalt marry someone who loves and honors his/ her parents and family members. For that is how thou too shall be treated.
Forgive me for having a Moses Moment! If you have chosen unwisely in your own life or you are a single mom, you can still instill this lesson. Use as your example someone your children admire, a grandfather, friend or teacher to illustrate the traits that enhance a relationship. Kids can relate.
Teach them how to lead happy lives. Teach them! Then have the grace and good sense to release them to lead their own lives and follow their chosen paths. Releasing is not easy. Practice this by not emotionally holding them too tightly. This is not easy either. Remember our purpose as parents is to make them worthy, self-sufficient adults. So let them fulfill their own destinies.
Your parenting is done. Sit back and enjoy the advent of your future extended family: grandchildren, great grandchildren and happy gatherings around your family table. You will be remembered as the pillar of guidance and respect who provided the road map for their life journey.
Marge Flados resides in Harlingen and can be reached at email@example.com.