Marriage is Good for Babies

09I am assuming that welcoming a Baby into your life is a consideration.

If you are not thinking of Babies and Marriage –  Hey Young People: Now’s the Time to Get Married and Have Kids

Perhaps you are among the increasingly marriage-phobic, up and coming generation that desires children, but are satisfied with less than the full commitment of marriage.

Baby has some news for you:   Babies do not care whether you are “ready” for marriage or not – in fact, they don’t care if you were ready for them.

Babies do not care about politics…about adult desires…adult angst…adult stupidity. They only want a mom and dad. Yes, folks, studies show they do better with two parents – one from each gender (1, 2).  You may find studies that show it does not make any difference, but I will match your study with one of mine and up you one.

We all have a sliding scale of femaleness and maleness. To develop to full potential, we need to bounce those hardwired traits off two kinds of parents – a mom that is female and a dad that is male.

Furthermore, Baby wants the male and the female who made them to stay together.   Forever. Not just until the first BIG disappointment comes along. Not just until each partner finds out the true shortcomings of the other. Not just until Baby finishes college.

Forever.

Exception: Baby won’t care if you leave a person who beats you. Baby will congratulate you later.

Divorce is hard on babies at any age. In the absence of abuse, a majority of people are glad they stayed together even if they were at one time on the brink of divorce. Yes, it is reported in a study.

007Marriage is civilized. It has moved civilization forward. It says, we are so committed to each other, we are making it a legal deal. This has provided babies with that extra security that civilized societies honor. As a bonus, parents can make it a religious covenant, which says that we are not only making our promise to society, but to God.

Marriage improves physical and mental health (3).  Married parents produce children who end up better educated with higher incomes.  Studies also have tried to separate out what makes children of married parents more successful in education and finance.  Some findings suggest that the very qualities that make for a good marriage – commitment and patience – also make for good parenting.  Greater time for nurturing seems to also be a factor in the case for married parents.  And, the secrets of a long-term marital happiness hinge on two traits:  compassion and kindness (4).

Compassion and kindness are appreciated by Babies, also.

But, you may say, life got messy and I got divorced.  Or, I never got married.  Or…  Welcome to the less than ideal world that many of us inhabit.  Just because your life does not meet the gold standard, does not mean that you don’t still have the gold standard to contend with.  We do the best we can with the choices we have made and the cards that life deals us.  We encourage others to do better than us.  We support those who suffer misfortunes.

Then we seek to capitalize on our strengths – always.

That is the way to move forward.  Espouse the truth.  There is always another generation to teach.  There are always people searching for true and good ways to live.  So go out and shout it from the roof tops – get married.  Be truly radical.  Don’t get a tattoo – get a baby!  Get several – always one more than you think you can afford.  Rather than pierce your belly button – pierce your heart with love and commitment.  Have a marvelous, messy, married and baby-filled life.

Don’t let babies down. Get married. Stay married.

 [1] Mark Regnerus, “How different are the adult children of parents who have same-sex relationships? Findings from the New Family Structures Study,” Social Science Research Vol 41, Issue 4 (July 2012), pp. 752-770; online at: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0049089X12000610

[2] Loren Marks, “Same-sex parenting and children’s outcomes: A closer examination of the American Psychological Association’s brief on lesbian and gay parenting,” Social Science Research Vol 41, Issue 4 (July 2012), pp. 735-751; online at: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0049089X12000580

[3]. David Gallacher and John Gallacher. Are relationships good for you? BMJ, January 27, 2011

[4].  Emily Esfahai Smith, “Masters of love.”  The Atlantic.  June 12, 2013.   http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/06/happily-ever-after/372573/?single_page=true

 

When Babies Marry

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Around the time Babies launch, they usually date – and then marry. Now if dating leads to marriage, then parents of Babies tend to scrutinize every dating choice. It is at this time, parents start researching Arranged Marriages. That rarely works out unless it is already an integral part of your culture. So then, we are left with the role of Bystander. While they are underage, parents do have more control over who Baby spends time with – at least we want to believe that. However, there is no control over who piques the interest or plucks the love strings in the heart of your beloved Baby.

Counseling, cajoling and commanding are the most commonly used tools when Baby’s eyes are glazed over swooning about for a less than desirable Other. Your baby deserves the best. You can choose the best. Baby usually does not appreciate your choice. Now if Baby appreciates your taste and choices in characteristics of a future mate, and follows your advice carefully, then read no further. All is well and you can look forward to a long, smooth, trouble-free relationship with your future son or daughter-in-law. But that is as rare as a hen’s teeth.

The majority of the time, parents don’t choose Baby’s mate and have very few options when Baby chooses a worrisome future mate. You calculate the fine line between discharging your parental duty and pointing out the obvious. “Sally, you are buying a lifetime of trouble with this one because ______.” You fill in the blanks. This assumes you know what you are talking about. Beware the clouding that comes to the parental (especially mother) brain when entertaining the worthiness of a future daughter-in-law. Yes, you are going to lose that boy Baby to this woman. Can you really see clearly?

Let’s say you can see clearly. You see traits or qualities that you don’t believe Baby can see. Go ahead – discharge your duty – before the ink is dry on the marriage license.  Say it.  Point it out.  Check for understanding of what you have said. If you believe your words have been received and understood – you then sit down and shut up. Say no more. Go shopping for the beige mother of the bride/groom dress. Plan on shutting up for a long time – try forever. No criticism of Baby’s mate will be received with any gratitude. If Baby finds out years later you were right, and Baby is completely miserable, you still just say, “I’m so sorry.” – or – “I wish you well.” Nothing more.

Your next project is to welcome your new son or daughter-in-law into your family.  Often, the traits you found so disturbing, may be the traits that you share with this future baby-in-law.  This is the person your child chose and loves. And, perhaps even more important, this is the person that loves your child and is therefore deserving of your care. You are now his or her greatest supporter.  It is all quite simple, really.

Most humans are free to make big choices, and then to live with them. There is a reason why we get to make those choices and it is called agency – the ability to choose. A parent has very few years to influence a child. After that, the agency thing kicks in with robust force. You were able to make your mistakes and then meander through the consequences, reaping the rewards of growth and hard-earned wisdom.  And so will Baby.

Just keep the love lines open.

 

Photo credit:  Tammi Jensen Photography

Why Babies?

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Photo Credit: Valeri Anderson https://www.facebook.com/vandersenphotography

This should be the first entry into this weblog – why bother with babies at all?

First, there is the primeval, brain, heart, hormone and DNA-based urge to have children in most (not all) people. We are members of humanity and we value each other. We have, in reality, a short time here on earth to make a life and make a difference. Most want the full menu of human experience, including the bearing and raising of children. It is visceral.

In past times, having plenty of children meant survival. Children were contributors to the family and provided hands in the fields and in the home. With disease and accident claiming lives, it was necessary to have more Babies than now. Babies were so often lost that it was customary to give a new baby the same name as the last baby that had passed on before – a phenomenon that makes genealogy very interesting.   In addition, there were few reliable ways of preventing them within the marital relationship.  Family history records often show a two to three-year interval for the births of children.  That is because breastfeeding provided some natural child spacing for many families.  More on that later.

The desire for family is basic – and Babies are nice additions to families. Family is the primary unit of a civilized society. Each family is, in miniature, a society – hopefully civilized. The form may vary, but the ideal function is to provide a protective environment that creates security and opportunities for the members of that family. In short, having a Baby means having a future – for both society and the family. Babies are a manifestation of all who came before you.

Children are future adults, and future makers of families. If a moderately happy family exists, then we want to pass that on. Some cultures are intent with creating resources that allow future generations a better financial and educational platform on which to build. That way, success increases for each successive generation of Babies – as long as you have also passed along a strong work ethic.  Otherwise, it is the three-generation trust fund kid story – first generation makes it, second builds it and spends it on the kids, third generation just spends it.

Even if you are in the No Babies group, I recommend Babies – some time and in some form. Find them within your family, or find them in places where there is not family to hold and guide them. Your capacity for love will grow to heights not possible without Babies. But so will your capacity for sorrow be deepened, as your heart will then be vulnerable to the law of commensurate highs and lows.

In spite of the risks, Babies are worth the trouble. If you have the choice, have a bunch of them. Let your heart rule on this one and have at least one more than you think you can afford. They actually cost less than the estimates in magazines report. Give them the best you have to offer and let them benefit from your mistakes – but stand back and let them make some of their own. Learn how Babies think and develop because that creates an opening to a tiny world of innocence and pure encounter that grounds the adult in life essentials. A reminder of life’s meaning becomes crystal clear when viewed through the eyes of a child.

Babies live life at its fullest and drag you along with them. Look them straight in the eye as often as you can. They will stare right back at you – complete strangers though you may be. They are not afraid, preoccupied, embarrassed, or locked down. They are open to the world. Having even one Baby in your life provides a ride you really don’t want to miss.

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