Catholic Activity: How to Best Prepare Your Child for Marriage
Children learn about marriage primarily through how they see their father and mother interact with each other.
First, by giving him the example of your own lives. As he observes you and your mate in your everyday experiences, he can readily agree that marriage is an institution in which mutual love and respect thrive, and is a means by which he may achieve earthly happiness as well as eternal salvation.
Secondly, by making it plain to your children precisely what marriage is. It should not be regarded merely as a convenient arrangement which two persons can enter without preparation. Rather, it is a lifelong sacramental contract involving serious responsibilities and producing great rewards. Children should know that a husband and wife must be prepared to procreate and educate children to take an ultimate place in the Kingdom of God.
The parent who loves his children and takes pleasure in training them in right conduct gives the best possible testimonial to marriage. On the other hand, the parent who constantly complains about his physical, financial or emotional burdens breaks down his youngster's vision of marriage as a worthy state in life.
While marriage makes a glorious vocation in which the opportunity to serve God through parenthood is second only to that of the religious life, your child would not have a true choice if he were taught that it is the only course open for a person who remains in the world. Some mothers make this mistake in teaching daughters especially, and it is a mistake to which society contributes by giving an unpleasant connotation to the term "spinster." Numerous conditions are worse than living in a single state, as any person chained to an intolerable marriage might affirm.
There are many reasons why a person might remain unmarried. For instance, he might choose to care for dependent parents. His choice should be voluntary, however; parents should never encourage a child to refrain from marriage because of their selfish interests. A man or woman may be unable to find a suitable partner; by refusing to marry simply for the sake of marriage, he or she exercises admirable prudence. Or the man or woman might be unwilling to accept the responsibilities of marriage. One who, rightly or wrongly, feels inadequate to train children, for instance, makes a wiser choice in remaining unmarried than one who marries and then practices birth control.
Activity Source: Catholic Family Handbook, The by Rev. George A. Kelly, Random House, Inc., New York, 1959