As a language teacher working with international students from around the world, I often hear a lot of interesting (and often illogical or shallow) comments about a whole range of topics, including dating and marriage. Most of these students in their early twenties. One day, I asked some of my students what they would think if they went out with a man or woman and they discovered that the person was totally clueless about basic history, geography, and current events. In fact, the person couldn't even find their own country on a map.
When I asked my students if they would go out with this person again, I was somewhat (but not totally) surprised that some of them commented that it would depend on what the person looked like. Now, that's pretty shallow, but from a limited perspective when you have never had long-term relationships, it is hard to see past the physical. How can you if you have never been involved a long-lasting and happy relationship in which you were totally committed to each other, especially in times of great trials. As a simple analogy, years ago, I thought all ice cream was the same until I tasted premium-flavored ice cream. Man, were my parents just holding out on me all those years by just giving me the generic brand, or perhaps they didn't know there was a difference either? In other words, people often settle on dating and marrying something less than what they are hoping for, particularly in cases where they think the person will change or improve over the long run; however, I remember hearing once that if you really want to drive a nice porche or other similar vehicle, you don't buy a junker and hope it will change. That won't happen. Don't expect to marry someone that is a "project" (i.e., a person who doesn't share the same hopes and standards) with the hope that you can change the person.
So, how does this relate to being a parent and raising kids? Children need to see healthy relationships, ones in which parents might struggle, but they have positive coping and communication skills to weather emotional, physical, and financial storms. Marriages don't have to be perfect because none are, but children need to learn the skills to help them make wise choices in making friends and getting along with eventual partners.
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