From my outsider status as a never-married woman with no children—caveat and full disclosure—I’ve pointed out that the state of parenting today makes me not want to parent. Sure, I could do it my own way, and I would if I did. Even still, observation from the outside more than intimidates—it frightens.
Recently, while watching another marriage crumble and after talking with someone struggling through the wobbliness of marriage after decades spent focusing on nothing but the children, I mused that individuals—children and youths especially—have resilience that marriages do not.
Though we like to believe marriage a firm, lasting, and irrevocable bond, we know otherwise. Researchers have debunked popular statistics about divorce percentages, yet even without real numbers, we all have seen the marriages among us crumble.
Marriages are fragile.
Children will always have more resilience than marriages—and a little less doting may do them good. (We’ve all heard the criticism of “helicopter parents” and the “everyone wins” culture.) A kid won’t wither because his parents spend a little less time and attention on him in favor of focusing on each other—especially if it means their marriage grows ever stronger as a result.
And lest you argue that adults already have less time for parenting than ever—a common guilt, with few parents feeling they spend enough time for their children—let me point to studies showing that people spend more time actively engaged with their children than they have in the past. Fathers have nearly tripled their kid time since 1965, according to research from Pew Research. The same Pew study found that today’s mothers spend more time with their children than mothers did in the 1960s—and more mothers work today (full- and part-time) than they did back then.
Perhaps we could redirect some of today’s extra focus on the children toward nurturing the marriage—which, I’d think, would only help with parenting well and in harmony and with raising healthy, happy kids who see the value and treasure of a positive and loving romantic partnership.
But what does someone spouseless and childless know?
What do you think?