Explaining marriage
to children

What began as a simple explanation of what it means to be a flower girl in a wedding quickly turned into a detailed discussion about marriage and what it means to promise to love someone forever. Sometimes the difficult conversations with our children are the most gratifying.

Wearing rosettes of taffeta

The dress hung in Katie's closet for weeks. My sweet girl oohed and ahhed over the taffeta dress in blush pink, with rosettes across the bodice and a bubble hem.

With the exception of a quick fitting and opportunity to swirl before the mirror, her first flower girl dress was reserved for the day that felt as though it would never arrive.

Then, the waiting finally came to an end last weekend. I hung her dress from the hook in the car, packed up the white tights and sparkly silver shoes that would complete her outfit.

Katie climbed into her carseat and waited patiently for me to join her. Within moments of starting the car, her questions began.

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Answering questions, both small and large

This child who had been far more interested in her dress and shoes than the wedding itself, suddenly wanted to know what her responsibilities would be and every detail about what the day would hold.

Once we reviewed what was expected of her, the questions changed from those that required only simple answers to questions that I wanted time to answer more thoughtfully — questions to which I wanted to give the perfect answer.

"For now, I want her to know that marriage can be wonderful."

”Why do people get married?” ”Do you marry your best friend?” ”Do married people live together forever?” She wanted to know all of these things.

There in the car, on the way to my dear friend's wedding, I took my time answering my daughter, weighing my options with each response.

For a moment, I considered throwing in a handful of disclosures: Marriage doesn't always last forever, sometimes happiness fades, sometimes people change and they go their separate ways.

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Building a solid foundation

But, in that moment I remembered that she's 5 years old and that parenting is more about laying a foundation and building a framework over time than it is throwing together an entire structure during a single conversation.

For now, I want her to know that marriage can be wonderful. It can last forever. Because at 5, she's not thinking about her own marriage and happily ever after. She's thinking about us, her parents. All that she really wants to know right now is that her Mommy and Daddy love each other and that they're committed to each other forever.

Over time, her father and I will have opportunities for more in depth discussions on love, relationships and marriage. I just hope that we remember that those conversations don't all have to happen at one time.

There in the car with her, I was overwhelmed with gratitude for the opportunity to be her mother and to help shape how she will one day view her world.

What an amazing honor it is to be a parent, even during the conversations that challenge us.

More on love and marriage

Practicing Gratitude: Falling in love with your spouse all over again
4 Things that your kids learn from your healthy marriage
Your kids and your marriage: Both are important


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Comments on "Practicing Gratitude: Weddings and happily ever afters"

Hannah November 27, 2012 | 10:05 AM

Great read! I want my daughter to know that marriage is wonderful, too, and the best way to do that is to lead by example! Make time for your spouse and don't argue in front of the kids.

Rachel November 26, 2012 | 10:29 AM

Love this piece this morning! And she is just adorable!!!

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