Parenting Your Child for Marriage

It's not often that the Father of the Bride gets to speak at a wedding. Oftentimes, the only words are in response to the question, "Who presents this woman to be married to this man?" In that instance, it is normally a mild-mannered man, one who shuns the attention of the moment, who barely manages to whisper out the refrain, "I do." 
A precious photo of a very special couple. 
This was completely not what happened at a wedding I was at almost three weeks ago. In response to that question, the Father of the Bride seemed to have an entire speech prepared for the Groom, "I present to you the key to my daughter's heart, " he declared. "I have protected her heart all her life until this point, and now I am handing over this responsibility to you." And with a firm voice, he presented this solemn reminder: "Remember that you will not be able to do this on your own, but only with God's help, and by spending time with Him daily."

The entire hall was silenced by these words, a most unexpected occurrence in the society we live in. This is a world which talks about "absent fathers" and "distant fathers". Not often do we have the opportunity to witness the impact that an "involved father" has on the lives of his children. 

But the bride's father did not stop there. Together with the groom's father, he presented a toast to the Bride and Groom during dinner; yet another surprise move in a culture where fathers are not normally known to play such a major role in the weddings of their children.
The lovely couple during their dinner reception.
I must state here that I have known both the Bride and Groom for more than 10 years. I know both sets of parents have invested much into the lives of their children, and this has resulted in a man and a woman who know for certain what they want in a life partner.
The groom in his younger days. A projection of his own future?
I spoke to the Groom the day before the wedding. One of the questions I asked him was whether he was sure about his decision to get married. He said without hesitation that it was a decision that he was absolutely certain about. 

During the wedding dinner, the Groom thanked his mother for being there with him all these years. I know from my own friendship with the Groom, that he shares a deeply close relationship with his mother;
 she was there not only to share in all his achievements and other happy moments, but also to provide advice during the difficult periods of his life.

What I witnessed that day is rare in all accounts. Most children today may be close to their mothers when they are very young - like at the age of 2 or 3, but as they grow older, a "generation gap" appears between parent and child; and by the time they reach the teenage years, children hardly share deep secrets with their parents. 

Sue with our younger son E when he was less than a month old.
The mother-child bond is so strong at birth and it is up to us as parents
to strength this bond as the years go by.
I believe it is possible for us as parents to reduce the likelihood of this gap; and I believe that as parents we have to prepare our children for marriage from as young as possible. We are beginning to do so for our sons.

One of the best ways to prepare our children for marriage is through the telling of stories. I tell a Bible story to my sons every night before bed, and this has led to numerous precious moments during which I teach the kids important truths. For instance, I have had the opportunity to share about godly women in the Bible, ladies such as Ruth and Esther. The story of Ruth teaches the boys what it means for a man to show loving-kindness to a woman; while in Esther, the boys are taught about what it means to have a wife who loves God and His people. 

We are also very demonstrative of the affection that we have for each other; the boys openly hear us saying "I love you" to each other, and they also observe us giving each other physical touch - simple hugs and back massages etc. We have showed them our wedding video, sharing with them about the day when Daddy and Mummy made an important vow to love each other all our lives. 
The importance of always showing affection to your spouse. Children feel secure when he know that
their Daddy and their Mummy love each other.

Psychology tells us that children are the most emotionally secure when they have strong bonds with their parents. I have been conducting a series of parenting talks for a number of pre-schools, and I tell the parents that the single most important thing they can do for their children is to keep a close and intimate relationship with their spouses. This, I tell the parents, is the bedrock for a child who then grows up emotionally secure in his or her identity; and such a child is more likely to make a healthy choice regarding his or her life partner.

The day will come when one or both of our children will make the decision to walk down the aisle with the person of their dreams. When that day comes, I know I will shed tears of joy. I cannot foresee the future, but I can influence the present. I know that the little seeds that I am sowing into the lives of my sons will one day bear fruit; and only God can determine the nature of that harvest!

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