Children really have the life, don’t they? Eat, sleep, and play. What do they have to worry about? Well, according to my six-year-old son, there is an awful lot to worry about.
My little Lucas worries that his yogurt will not stay cold in his lunch box, he worries that the mail will disintegrate in the mailbox on a rainy day, and he even worries that he will soon need knee replacement surgery like his grampy. This child lacks for nothing in his little life, but there are still things that worry him.
In spite of all his burdensome concerns, there is one thing that always calms him—the security of his family. And I don’t mean just having a mom and dad. I’m talking about the security of living with his married parents.
Interestingly enough, the fact that my husband and I are married positively affects our children. Time and again, I have listened to my kids share their anxieties with me, only to see them instantly calmed with one phrase: “Daddy and I love you, and our family will always be together.”
I started using this phrase to bring security to my kids after an incident a couple years ago. Lucas was in K4, and one day he came home quite upset. He explained to me that a little boy in his class was going to have two houses now—one with his mommy and one with his daddy. Lucas was visibly shaken by this. He started to cry and asked, “Will that ever happen to us?”
I held him close, looked him in the eyes, and answered, “Daddy and I will never do that to you.” I showed him the ring on my finger, and told him how the rings that his daddy and I wear mean that we will never leave each other. Now you may be thinking: How can you make such a claim? You don’t know the future. Your husband may cheat on you, and you’ll then get a divorce.
It’s true, I don’t know the future. But I do know what I promised on my wedding day. I promised to stay with my husband until death takes me from him. He did the same, and we have committed that divorce is never going to be an option for us.
If my husband and I were only sharing a lease, I couldn’t give my son that kind of assurance. I wouldn’t have any sacred promise to point to. And it’s really no surprise that many other families have found this to be true. Cohabiting couples are four times as likely to cheat as are married couples, and no wedding rings make them more than twice as likely to break up.
What does this do to their children?
As a parent, I want to give my children the very best of life. If you are a parent, you want that too. If you are not a parent yet, don’t steal the very first gift you can give your future child by choosing cohabitation over marriage. Being married is one of the best things you can do for your child or future child.
I can already hear the nay-sayers. Sure, there are also marriages that can damage a child. Poisonous marriages that are completely void of love and full of abuse are obviously dangerous to the children in the middle of them. I would never urge such a devastation to continue. And of course there are many single parents who are doing a fabulous job raising outstanding kids.
But I am talking about statistics and majorities. Of course, there are always exceptions and outliers in every study. But for the most part, marriage builds stronger, more successful, even healthier children. You can take the chance of being an exception, if you want, but I don’t want to risk the lives of my children on that bet.
Did you know that children who live with their married parents are more likely to be physically healthy than those in broken homes? Crazy, huh? But it’s true. The facts are out there. And I can totally see how emotionally and physically nauseous my own children would be if they had to deal with life not knowing that their parents are together forever.
I wonder how Lucas would have dealt with his recent worries if my husband and I were not married. Last week, a hurricane that was headed to our town had us packing for evacuation. Lucas had worry written all over his face. He was convinced that all his toys would be washed out to sea, that his bunny would drown, and that our house wouldn’t be standing when we returned.
They were all legitimate worries. But once again, I got eye level with him and said, “Daddy and I love you, and our family will always be together.” I told him we would all evacuate together, and even if our house got blown away, we would come back together, build another house together, live in it together, and that’s all that mattered.
The little wrinkles in his forehead smoothed out, and (I’m not making this up), he held my hand, kissed my wedding ring, and the simplistic joy that should fill a six-year-old’s heart could be seen again on his face. I found it interesting that he kissed my ring. I believe he did that because he understands that the marriage between his parents means that he will always be safe and loved.