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What Do Kids Really Think About Marriage?

What Do Kids Really Think About Marriage?

Whatever your views on marriage, you cannot get away from the fact that kids are in the front line and then some! Did you know that almost half of the firstborns today in the USA are born to unwed mothers? You may also be shocked to learn that by the time they are 16, about 50% of American kids will have to experience their parents’ divorce. That is about I million children a year.

Whether parents cohabit, marry, or divorce, the kids are always altered, for better or for worse. So, let us ask the kids what they think of marriage. Maybe they can teach us a few things about this institution because kids can be intuitive, perceptive, wise or naïve. It is fascinating to hear what their impressions are.

On Dedication

Marriage thrives on the couple having independent satisfying lives, according to all the marriage counselors out there. But you can have too much of a good thing because too much independence can lead to infidelity or being a workaholic. Perhaps kids realize what the warning signs are, such as:

“Don’t forget your wife’s name. That will mess up the love.” Erin, age 8

On Praise

“Tell your wife that she looks pretty, even if she looks like a truck.” – Ricky, age 10

Spouses love being appreciated and given compliments on their talents, accomplishments and appearance. Who doesn’t like to be praised for how they look?

On Love and Children

“Lovers will just be staring at each other and their food will get cold. Other people care more about the food.” – Brad, age 8

Married couples are easily recognized. Usually, the loving glances and the affectionate arm holding as they walk the mall, make them easy to spot.

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“We always hold hands. If I let go, she shops.” – Henny Youngman

But what happens when discipline problems rear their ugly heads and kids get out of control?

“You might have to guess, based on whether they seem to be yelling at the same kids.” – Derrick, age 8

How do couples end up married?

“Before you marry a person, you should first make them use a computer with slow Internet to see who they really are.”- Will Ferrell

This question is an easy one for the adults to answer. Opposites attract or we end up with people who look like and behave just like us. Remember how you thought that your parents were just meant for each other? Some kids go a bit further and say it was all decided a long time ago!

“No person really decides before they grow up who they’re going to marry. God decides it all way before and you get to find out later who you’re stuck with.” – Kristen, age 10

Divorce has profound effects on the kids

It is heart wrenching to watch the video below as children describe what they went through when their parents divorced. It is startling to realize how sensitive and perceptive the kids are as to what is happening around them, even when their parents refuse to tell them anything. They also take on the stoical role so as to protect the parents from the extra burden of worrying about them. Shouldn’t it be the other way around?

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Kids’ views on marriage in general

As the discussions widen to include gay marriage, Jimmy Kimmel wanted to find out what kids think of that and also marriage in general. The responses here are surprisingly savvy. It seems that the worries about having to explain equal marriage to kids is unfounded. They seem to be well ahead of the game.

I love it when the kids who is asked “when is a good time to get married’” replies “in the afternoon.” It is also interesting to realize that many kids see that marriage is not always a picnic.

“It gives me a headache to think about that stuff. I’m just a kid. I don’t need that kind of trouble.” – Kenny, age 7

Featured photo credit: A family gathered in the kitchen at home looking at photographs/ Personal Creations via flickr.com

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on August 6, 2020

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

We’ve all done it. That moment when a series of words slithers from your mouth and the instant regret manifests through blushing and profuse apologies. If you could just think before you speak! It doesn’t have to be like this, and with a bit of practice, it’s actually quite easy to prevent.

“Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napolean Hill

Are we speaking the same language?

My mum recently left me a note thanking me for looking after her dog. She’d signed it with “LOL.” In my world, this means “laugh out loud,” and in her world it means “lots of love.” My kids tell me things are “sick” when they’re good, and ”manck” when they’re bad (when I say “bad,” I don’t mean good!). It’s amazing that we manage to communicate at all.

When speaking, we tend to color our language with words and phrases that have become personal to us, things we’ve picked up from our friends, families and even memes from the internet. These colloquialisms become normal, and we expect the listener (or reader) to understand “what we mean.” If you really want the listener to understand your meaning, try to use words and phrases that they might use.

Am I being lazy?

When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, a strange metamorphosis takes place. People tend to become lazier in the way that they communicate with each other, with less thought for the feelings of their partner. There’s no malice intended; we just reach a “comfort zone” and know that our partners “know what we mean.”

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Here’s an exchange from Psychology Today to demonstrate what I mean:

Early in the relationship:

“Honey, I don’t want you to take this wrong, but I’m noticing that your hair is getting a little thin on top. I know guys are sensitive about losing their hair, but I don’t want someone else to embarrass you without your expecting it.”

When the relationship is established:

“Did you know that you’re losing a lot of hair on the back of your head? You’re combing it funny and it doesn’t help. Wear a baseball cap or something if you feel weird about it. Lots of guys get thin on top. It’s no big deal.”

It’s pretty clear which of these statements is more empathetic and more likely to be received well. Recognizing when we do this can be tricky, but with a little practice it becomes easy.

Have I actually got anything to say?

When I was a kid, my gran used to say to me that if I didn’t have anything good to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. My gran couldn’t stand gossip, so this makes total sense, but you can take this statement a little further and modify it: “If you don’t have anything to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

A lot of the time, people speak to fill “uncomfortable silences,” or because they believe that saying something, anything, is better than staying quiet. It can even be a cause of anxiety for some people.

When somebody else is speaking, listen. Don’t wait to speak. Listen. Actually hear what that person is saying, think about it, and respond if necessary.

Am I painting an accurate picture?

One of the most common forms of miscommunication is the lack of a “referential index,” a type of generalization that fails to refer to specific nouns. As an example, look at these two simple phrases: “Can you pass me that?” and “Pass me that thing over there!”. How often have you said something similar?

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How is the listener supposed to know what you mean? The person that you’re talking to will start to fill in the gaps with something that may very well be completely different to what you mean. You’re thinking “pass me the salt,” but you get passed the pepper. This can be infuriating for the listener, and more importantly, can create a lack of understanding and ultimately produce conflict.

Before you speak, try to label people, places and objects in a way that it is easy for any listeners to understand.

What words am I using?

It’s well known that our use of nouns and verbs (or lack of them) gives an insight into where we grew up, our education, our thoughts and our feelings.

Less well known is that the use of pronouns offers a critical insight into how we emotionally code our sentences. James Pennebaker’s research in the 1990’s concluded that function words are important keys to someone’s psychological state and reveal much more than content words do.

Starting a sentence with “I think…” demonstrates self-focus rather than empathy with the speaker, whereas asking the speaker to elaborate or quantify what they’re saying clearly shows that you’re listening and have respect even if you disagree.

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Is the map really the territory?

Before speaking, we sometimes construct a scenario that makes us act in a way that isn’t necessarily reflective of the actual situation.

A while ago, John promised to help me out in a big way with a project that I was working on. After an initial meeting and some big promises, we put together a plan and set off on its execution. A week or so went by, and I tried to get a hold of John to see how things were going. After voice mails and emails with no reply and general silence, I tried again a week later and still got no response.

I was frustrated and started to get more than a bit vexed. The project obviously meant more to me than it did to him, and I started to construct all manner of crazy scenarios. I finally got through to John and immediately started a mild rant about making promises you can’t keep. He stopped me in my tracks with the news that his brother had died. If I’d have just thought before I spoke…

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