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The choice of a spouse: Should parents have a say?

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Be careful how you express your approval for your child’s choice of a mate — there are ways to be both honest and supportive.

Some parents fear their children will make the mistake of a lifetime by marrying the wrong person. Married life isn’t easy, especially if the chances of success are slim. So, what to do? No one wants to see their own child heading for failure. 

When outright rejection only makes the hearts grow fonder

Unless your child is too young to get married, an outright rejection of a future son or daughter-in-law is not advisable. If your child is particularly compliant, he or she may go along with your wishes and later regret this decision for the rest of their life. Most often, the outright rejection by the parents only makes the heart grow fonder. The more the parents point out the shortcomings of the beloved, the more the children tend to justify them. The greatest love stories to ever have been written are about star-crossed lovers: Romeo and Juliette, Tristan and Isolde, Abelard and Heloise. So, don’t dig in your heels and oppose your child’s choice of spouse head on. 

Nor should you become over-enthusiastic and pushy in the other way. The danger there is that should the couple get in trouble and separate at some future time, you may be get the blame. 

Seeking the middle ground

It’s preferable to seek the middle ground: “We think that this person may get you in trouble. But it’s your choice and we respect it. You are intelligent enough to see if we are right. We will gladly recognize our mistake if we have been wrong. We won’t oppose your decision, but we believe you should consider our reservations and not be guided by blind love alone.” 

A respectful invitation to reflect is perhaps not always effective, but at least it provides parents a clear conscience of having done what they can to warn their child.

Marie-Noël Florant

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