By Francise Ewherido
I believe it is the prerogative of every adult to decide when to marry and who to get married to. I also believe that, as people in a free society with freedom of speech, parents have a duty to offer their children advice. Whether the advice is taken or jettisoned is a different matter. It is in exercise of this freedom that I called my two eldest children some time ago.
I told my eldest daughter that once she hits 20 years I will not have issues age-wise if she decides to get married. For my eldest son, I told him 25 years. I got no response from my daughter, but my son laughed and screamed: “ but daddy, that is too young.” To which I responded: “No, it’s not; I will support and help you.” By “support and help” I mean:
One, I am praying to God, the giver of good spouses, to send my children God-given spouses. Two, I am preparing them for marriage and parenthood through mentoring, actions and words. I learnt much of what I apply in my marriage from my parents. Three, I keep an eye on their school work to ensure that they keep pace with their peers. Four, I am encouraging them to follow a career path is tied to their passions, not my choice or what is in vogue. Building a career around their passions will hopefully give them a head start, a regular income and a roof over their heads early enough. Regular income, accommodation and focus are what a young man needs to get married, not tons of money.
I am going to ask my daughter again. If she has no interest in early marriage or marriage for that matter, I will not put pressure on her because I believe marriage is optional (Mathew 19:12) ( 1Cor 7: 1-9), but I want to know her plans so that I can offer advice where necessary because as a teenager she still needs parental guidance to make wise choices.
Marrying early or late has its advantages and disadvantages, but I prefer early marriage, even though I married late. One, I prefer my children having their children when they are younger, so that they can be done with baby making early and move on with their lives including retiring early if they so wish. Some people still have children in school when they are retired thereby misapplying money meant for their old age and retirement. As experience has shown, some of these children trained with retirement money do not reciprocate their parents’ kind gestures sometimes through no fault of theirs. My last two children will still be in school when I hit 60 years; I do not want my children in that situation, if it is avoidable.
Two, scientifically, child birth is better and less risky for women between 18 and 35 years than above 35 years. Why increase your risks when you can avoid it? Also, is it not better if people marry early and unleash their youthful vigour and “fury” on each other within marriage rather than waste it outside marriage? That way, even when they pass their peak, they will be contented that they had their prime years together in matrimony. Three, I do not believe they will miss anything by marrying young. If they want to boogie, party or go night clubbing, let them do it with their spouses.
Four, marrying early gives you the strength of youth to run around with your children in their early stages when they are most physically active. As they grow older, you also get older and more experienced to deal with the challenges of their adolescent years and beyond.
Five, make hays while your sun shines. An old friend told me how “at 23, a man came practically kneeling down, begging me to marry him. I ignored him, feeling I have the whole world ahead of me.” She is now in her 50s and never got married despite all her efforts subsequently.
Six, the truth is no responsible parents want their daughters passed around from one man to the other like a football. Marrying early can help sort out this (not always so; by 12, some girls are already sexually active) and resulting problems or pressure
Seven, the problem some marriages have is that both parties were well matured and set in their ways before coming together. Normally maturity should be an asset in marriage, but in some cases it becomes a liability because nobody wants to bend for the other. So I want my children to marry early. They will make mistakes, but hopefully they will grow with their spouses and mature together like loving siblings.
Eight, it is true that marriage is for mature minds, but I believe that maturity here is not necessarily determined by age but by knowledge and a strong foundation. This is where parents come in. Preparing children for marriage and parenthood should form part of the children’s upbringing from childhood. That is why daughters should learn how to run their matrimonial homes in their parents’ homes and get better in their matrimonial homes.
Sons on the other hand should be taught to be responsible. They should know the basics of financial management and how to live peacefully with females. My sons know it is a taboo to beat their baby sister no matter the level of provocation. They can only report her to me or their mother. Beating her attracts rebuke or sanctions. I am using her to teach them how to tolerate their future spouses and what a lesson in tolerance; their baby sister can ruffle feathers. I tell them it is not cool for couples to fight and even worse when they fight in the presence of the children.
Really, I am just exercising my freedom of speech. Guys, the ball is in your court and may God guide you.