Is Marriage Important to a Child’s Development?

Roast for Sunday dinner

The story is told of a mother preparing a roast for Sunday dinner. She cuts a little off each end of the roast. As her daughter grows, she teaches her how to prepare the roast for Sunday dinner, cutting a little off each end. Her daughter marries and carries on the tradition of roast for Sunday dinner, cutting a little off each end. As her daughter grows, she teaches her how to prepare the roast. When she marries, she proudly prepares a roast for Sunday dinner, cutting a little off of each end. Her husband asks her why she does that, as his mother didn’t. “I don’t know,” she says. “That’s the way my mom taught me.” Later, she calls her mom and asks her why she cuts a little off each end of the Sunday roast. Her mother says because that’s the way my mom taught me. Later she calls her mother and asks her why she did it. “Well, Honey,” she says, “it’s because I didn’t have a pot large enough for a roast, so I trimmed a little off each end and then it fit!”

Many people today say that traditional families are just like this story, an idea that has been passed down through the generations with no scientific foundation. They are just an idea someone had that no one ever bothered to question. A child doesn’t need two parents, one is sufficient. Parents don’t need to be married; it doesn’t make any difference to the children. Same-sex parents are just as good for a child. Is there science behind a traditional family? Does it make a difference in a child’s development?

Traditional family keeps affecting studies.

Researchers have been conducting studies and seeking to prove or disprove various theories and a traditional family keeps proving to make a difference. For example, is a child’s health increased by being raised in a higher income family because they have access to health insurance? Researchers discovered that income and insurance did have a positive effect. They also found that children who were raised in similar income homes with similar insurance, but whose parents were married were healthier than those whose parents were not.

According to studies conducted at Brookings, children from homes with married parents are not just healthier, but also receive better grades in school. This allows them to get a better education and decreases their chances of becoming low-income adults. Why? Researchers think it’s because when there are two parents in the home who have a strong marriage the children feel safe and secure. Numerous studies have shown that children from single-parent homes have an increased rate of substance abuse and criminal activity.

How do you present a stable marriage to your child?

Everyone has disagreements, we all have bad days and get snappy and argue. Should we hide that? No. Because everyone has disagreements and bad days, we need to let our children learn from us, and show them how to handle it. This teaches them how to interact with other people. It also shows them that even when things are hard, Mom and Dad will stick together. E. Mark Cummings, a developmental psychologist at Notre Dame University, told Developmental Science, “When kids witness a fight and see the parents resolving it, they’re actually happier than they were before they saw it,” he says. “It reassures kids that parents can work things through.”

This does not mean that you need to remain in a destructive relationship. Cummings also said, “Our studies have shown that the long-term effects of parental withdrawal are actually more disturbing to kids’ adjustment than open conflict.” He explains that children in this instance can perceive that something is wrong. This leads to stress, but they don’t understand what or why, which means it’s harder for them to adjust. Children respond the same way adults do when exposed to constant stress or destructive behavior. They become worried, anxious, angry, sick, scared, and will begin to have behavior challenges of their own. If you are in a relationship that isn’t supportive, seek counseling to discover solutions. Regardless of how much you think you are hiding things; it is affecting everyone. Let us know if you need help finding or affording good counseling.

Additional positives to a stable marriage.

You help one another with the children. If one of you needs a break, you can tell your spouse and they can take over for a few minutes. Sometimes just a five-minute walk or even a cry in the bathroom can mean the difference between you losing it and saying or doing something to your child that you’ll always regret. A spouse can make that five-minute break a possibility. We can help, too. If you need a quick break, stop by, we are here to help!

Doing things together teaches kids to cooperate and get along with everyeone.

Scott Coltrane, Ph.D. at the University of Oregon says that kids old enough to attend school who see their parents working together in sharing chores at home, especially those who include their children and do chores together, get along better with their peers and are less likely to disobey their teachers. It teaches them about cooperation.

“When a child grows up in a home that is loving in many ways — through physical touch, kind words and deeds, thoughtful acts of service for one another — they will naturally be drawn to a life partner who holds these qualities,” says behavioral therapist Cara Day. “It will become the child’s barometer for what a spouse should be because it is what he knows.”

What a wonderful concept! When we love our spouse and strengthen one another, we are not only creating a home where our children feel safe enough to be a healthy child, but we are also teaching them to provide the same for their children. Just like the story we started with about the Sunday dinner roast, they may not know why, but they will follow our example and build good relationships with their spouse and family.

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