Why the Unmarried People Should Start Learning About Raising Children Well, Before Their Marriage

“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”
-Frederick Douglass

This is something I’m not very much familiar with or write about but I’ve naively observed. I really felt this can be helpful or at least thought-provoking and felt this needs to reach more people. So I decided to write this. Please read this with an open mind.

The Courtship Period
Have you observed a significant, and in some countries, majority of movies are love stories? And out of those love stories, majority of them are about courtship period: where the romantic couple gets to know each other, falls in love, overcomes some sort of obstacles and finally unites – in marriage – and that’s shown as ‘the happy ending.’

But think about it, depending on whether love or arranged marriages, the courtship period lasts anywhere from a few months to in some exceptional cases, a decade at most? But how long do marriages last? In most cases a life time – spanning across at least a few decades. What movies, songs, novels and societies portray as happy ending is actually a beginning, of a far longer journey and definitely with its own unique challenges.

Why mention this?
Our youth is inspired from it. They put too much emphasis on courtship period ending up in marriages than on living as a married couple, understanding each other, understanding that relationships require effort (and not confusing that relationships draw from forever sustaining, eternal fountain of love) and raising children well.

Discussions On Raising Children
I may be generalizing and I apologize, but most married couple would likely have children. However, they rarely think about it in the courtship period apart from the fancy mentioning – “we’ll have babies that look like you” and “we’ll name them that” or something along the line. Later after marriage most married couple do give a thought about when they’ll have children: often when their career and priorities align and when they can give most time to their children – this is wonderful. But is this enough?

The Most Ignored Part
Sadly, there is a part of raising children that is often completely ignored: inculcating, instilling great qualities in them. “But every parent wants to and tries to instil great qualities in their children”. True, but in what way? Please read on:

How do children learn?

(Image via Quoteswave)
Another similar quote: “Your child will follow your example not your advice.”

Children learn more from example than advice. The parents are their first teachers and their education begins right from home. Children mirror their parents’ behavior, habits, words and actions. They continuously observe you and imitate the same thing.

Lot of parents try to impart teaching through words while either behaving exactly opposite in action or hardly following their own preaching.

The Sins of the Parents
I’m currently reading a book called “The Road Less Traveled” by M. Scott Peck and it has a chapter with a similar name (The Sins of the Father) which puts a great emphasis on good parenting and highlights the consequences of bad parenting.
The chapter describes the lifelong neuroses the children develop because of the parents who try to instil self-discipline in them while being without self-discipline themselves. In his words they’re “Do as I say, not as I do” parents. From the same book:

When parents do things a certain way, it seems to the young child the way to do them, the way they should be done.
If a child sees his parents day in and day out behaving with self-discipline, restraint, dignity and a capacity to order their own lives, then the child will come to feel in the deepest fibers of his being that this is the way to live.
If a child sees his parents day in and day out living without self-restraint or self-discipline, then he will come in the deepest fibers of being to believe that that is the way to live.

Some More Examples
If the parents frequently fight and bicker over the most trivial of things in front of their children then teachings of tolerance, understanding, being calm go right out of the door.
If a father tells his son to not beat his sister but if he beats the mother then the son won’t stop.
If the mother tells her children to check their temper but she regularly shouts around and gets in argument with the neighbor, her own children would shout and be angry too.
If either of the parent is into some bad habit like drinking or smoking, it’d be hard for the teenage son to not follow the suit despite being told “don’t smoke“.

These were rather more extreme cases but if the parents don’t themselves embody the values, virtues, behavior, habits and thinking they want their children to have, it’s unlikely children would have them.

The Value of Well Raised Children for You, Society and the World
When you raise a child well, you don’t just contribute one good individual, you improve the whole next generation, our society, its future and the whole world. A lot of issues such as violence, racism, addictions, vices and so much more that the world is crippled by can be addressed at home, by parents, by good parenting.

Your Legacy
Your material inheritance may not last with your children forever, but the values you instil, the habits you inculcate in them, the virtues, the individual thinking you help them develop and the person you help them become; that’d remain with them forever and it’d be passed onto to their own children. Your teachings would immortalize you. That’s your true legacy and the whole world would be thankful for it.

Just as you won’t want bad genes to pass on to your children – though you don’t have much control over it – similarly, you shouldn’t want to pass on your bad habits, behaviors, thought patterns and narrow-mindedness to your children and you (both parents) have a lot of control over this. It begins by improving yourself.

Improving Ourselves Takes Time – Begin Early (Now!)
Your bad habits, addictions, vices, improper thinking, narrow-mindedness and any fault you have right now and are aware of won’t suddenly disappear once you’re married. It’d stick with you and would pass on to your children. If you want to raise great children, you must improve yourself.

This improvement won’t happen suddenly. Trust me, it’s challenging to change ourselves. We cannot simply decide one day and completely transform ourselves the same day. To change habits, behavior and thought patterns of years takes at least a few weeks to a few months. Researches shows that at least 62 days or 2 months are needed to instil a new habit. However this is optimistic, doesn’t take into account failures, distractions and other priorities. Also, it’s unlikely there would be only a few bad habits you’d have, so begin early, begin right now.

It’s not like you’re married now or are about to have children and then suddenly you decide and you’re better. This is why I believe if you’re unmarried, very good, begin now. If you’re married and about to have children, begin now, address the worst habits. If you’re married and already have children, you too begin now. Improve yourselves. Your children would be inspired by your changed behavior and would follow you.

Not Being Hard on Children
“Don’t let yourself become so concerned with raising a good kid, that you forget you already have one.”
A lot of parents rely on physical beating, harsh words, mental torture to discipline their children. Such parents themselves lack discipline and are ignorant of more loving, kind ways to impart a teaching as well as ignore the ill effects their punishments may have on their children, in childhood and later in life. Please stop. You don’t want to raise children who need to recover from their childhood.

Just as experienced adults who have seen the world take time to improve; a child who is unaware of the world and its teaching is definitely going to take more time. Be patient, loving and caring parents. You don’t want your child to remember childhood as something dreadful and forgettable.

Another Need: Learning of Better Married Life Before Marriage
Similar to raising children well and probably preceding it is the need of learning about how to have a better married life. I see this too frequently, the married partners bickering over useless things, in busy lives of today they’re not together whole day and when they are they’re fighting, arguing. In courtship period people promise moon and stars for loved ones. But moon and stars aren’t needed to live a healthy, happy married life.

What’s needed is proper communication, honesty, understanding, tolerance and the youth needs to learn this – preferably before marriage. You’re not going to learn and instil this all suddenly on your wedding day, right? Be responsible. Learn now.

Opening Up
If you’re unmarried, you’d be teased about being in the age of marriage etc. If you’re recently married you’d be teased about when are you having children. The youth find themselves bombarded only with this imbecile teasing but are not given proper guidance and more responsible discussions on finding a good partner, on married life, responsibility of both partners, importance of communication and of course on raising children well.

To the youth, the courtship period is extremely exaggerated, is shorter and is perhaps less important than married life and raising children well. If you want to raise children well, improve yourself. This improvement begins now. Start.


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