I truly had a blessed childhood, and I wish I had realized that then. My parents loved each other, and they loved their children. I grew up in Reno, Nevada, and was fortunate to be one of the very few 5th generation Nevada natives. My friends were not so lucky. Most of them came from outside the state. Their parents came, gambled away their life savings, and skipped out of town in the middle of the night. I knew better than to get too close to my friends because they might not be around the next day, and they might not have the opportunity to say goodbye.
Some of my friends had parents who worked in the clubs. Moms were cocktail waitresses and strippers. Dads were dealers and slot machine mechanics. Most of them were great people, but it was a difficult environment for my friends. Life was much easier for me than it was for them. Divorce was prevalent, and most of my friends were latch key kids. I had a mother waiting for me after school, and often a father too, as he preferred working from his home office to be closer to his family.
I was born near the end of 1954, so I grew up in the midst of the 1960’s and 1970’s “sexual revolution.” It was hard, but I had parents who taught me the importance of marriage. I learned that children have a right to be born into a loving family—not a commune or a single-parent situation. There are a lot of wonderful single parents out there who raise great kids—but it’s hard. It’s hard for the parent, and even more difficult for the children. I had the ideal storybook childhood—the fairytale—except it was real. There was a happily ever after in our home.
All these years later, I find myself looking back through time. If only the 1960’s had not happened, there would be so many more happy families today. Children from the 60’s were afraid of duplicating their own childhoods, so they changed the rules. They didn’t have good role models, so they struggled to create a whole new set of socially acceptable rules and values. They failed miserably. Now a whole new generation has grown up without the benefit of good role models and values.
We can still turn this around.They are precious gifts from God who deserve the very best. They have a God-given right to a mother and a father. If we deny them that, we will have to answer for it. All actions have consequences.
In September, 1995, the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) made history with a document called “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.” It outlines the importance of family and warns of the consequences of
disregarding the family institution. I find one paragraph extremely pertinent to how I’m feeling today about marriage.
“HUSBAND AND WIFE have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. ‘Children are an heritage of the Lord’ (Psalm 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations.” (The Family: A Proclamation to the World)
We must teach our children the importance of marriage. Whenever possible, children must have a father and a mother in the home. If we want our children to place value on marriage, we must value marriage ourselves. We must try harder to make our marriages work. Divorce should be the exception; not the rule. Jumping ship the first time life gets hard just doesn’t work. The family unit is fundamentally important to our children and to society as a whole.
No one ever said marriage is easy. Life itself is not easy. Anything worth having is worth working hard to get. We work hard to get a lot of things, but things don’t make us happy. If we work hard at having a good marriage, however, we will find the ultimate joy in family. Our children deserve that joy. Teach them by example how to find that joy for themselves.
Tudie Rose is a mother of four and grandmother of ten in Sacramento, California. You can find her on Twitter as @TudieRose. She blogs as Tudie Rose at http://potrackrose.wordpress.com. She has written articles for Familius. You will find a Tudie Rose essay in Lessons from My Parents, Michele Robbins, Familius 2013, at http://www.familius.com/lessons-from-my-parents.