[DISCLAIMER: Whether you’re married, single, widowed or divorced, this blog is for you as a parent. We all have relationship stories and advice we MUST pass along to our children.]
My teenage daughter and I felt like weirdos when we were the only ones bawling after watching La La Land the movie at a local theater. The movie wrecked us. And, it made me write this blog.
Here’s the thing… and it comes with a “spoiler alert.” The lead female character in La La Land made the wrong choice. She did not choose her true love. She chose her career dreams — and fame and fortune — instead. And, that’s why my daughter and I bawled.
Now, one could argue that La La Land portrayed Mia (Emma Stone) as a girl of quiet strength, who grew up to be an accomplished woman because she successfully achieved her career dreams. However, if you pay attention to the final scene, where Mia has a chance encounter with her abandoned true love, Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), you might construe that Mia’s dreams have not made her happy. She and Sebastian both flash back to a sentimental scenario of what could have been if they’d let their true love blossom into “forever” and “family.”
How La La Land Spoke to My Parenting
This brings me to my point. My daughter has received her template for relationship from my husband, Mike, and me — her parents. Our daughter knows her mom and dad met in nursery school. We were “nursery school sweethearts,” so to speak. Our relationship grew from there, within the confines of a small town in Minnesota. Repeatedly, our daughter has seen the 2nd grade class photo, where Mike is sporting his characteristic, mischievous smile and I’m standing in the back with “the tall kids.”
She’s heard the stories of our high school romance and how we followed each other to college in California. She knows we were on-again-off-again, with approximately 22 breakups. And, she’s aware there was a period of several years when Mike and I didn’t speak to each other. I’d moved to the East Coast to pursue my career in television. He’d temporarily returned to our hometown to coach and secure a teaching degree. The flame of our true love was nearly extinguished.
My daughter knows the story of her parent’s choice to claw through conflict and separation, selfishness and temptation, to find each other in a world that woos us away from the idea of One, True, Love. There are sexier things. There are more lucrative things. Things that change. And things that tempt people to betray. There are devastating illnesses, financial crises, mental breakdowns and false identities. And, sometimes, people don’t get a shot at “one, true, love” in this life. Nevertheless, this is my husband’s and my story. This is the biggest story of relationship that our daughter and son fully know. And, it’s that knowing that caused my daughter to cry over La La Land. She wants true love commitment for everyone.
5 Tips to Set Your Kids Up For Good Relationships
Parents have a unique opportunity to pass along the building blocks of relationship to their kids. And, those building blocks don’t have to spring from “true love” stories like ours. In fact, Mike and I are deeply aware that our story is imperfect. Still, we’ve purposely passed on a heart cry for true love to our children; and, I know other parents have an equally valuable “heart cry” to pass along.
There are widowed parents who can tell their children about the value of a day, when it comes to loving their spouse. There are divorced parents who can instruct their kids about the importance of choices and second chances. And, there are never-married parents, who can steer their children toward the value of commitment and stability and, yes, marriage. I urge every parent to share their story of relationship with their children for the sake of their children’s future spouses and families. This urging comes with a few suggested ground rules.
5 Tips for Parents & Kids:
- Consider only what relationship lessons would be helpful (not hurtful) to your child, carefully considering your child’s level of maturity.
- Make the sharing of your story “values-based,” considering the best relationship you want your children to aim for, avoiding complaint or criticism about your personal relationships.
- Be willing to share your mistakes and sins, being careful not to over-share, but allowing your child to determine what they can avoid.
- Seek out your children’s questions and concerns, in order to help them address those.
- Pray… and pray… about what God would have you share with your children to steer them toward loving relationships and marriage.
Deuteronomy 4:9 reads “Only give heed to yourself and keep your soul diligently, so that you do not forget the things which your eyes have seen and they do not depart from your heart all the days of your life; but make them known to your sons and your grandsons.” By extension, you should also “make them known to your daughters and granddaughters.”
How can you commit to sharing your relationship story and values with your children, to benefit their future relationships and family?