Relationship advice to children from a dozen real dads!
What would your advice to your children be?
Relationships are tough. Back in the day, things were simple. You liked somebody, you courted him/her, and eventually, you would open up to each other. You would enter in a monogamous relationship and end up being together happily ever after. Well, the last part is a bit of a stretch, but at least, you would make a lot of efforts to tolerate each other 'till death do us part'.
Now, the equation has changed. I don't know if it is for the better but the value once placed on a 'family' is not the same today. I worry that this will change even more when my son grows up. With the advent of Tinder, hookup culture is slowly on the rise. People are increasingly shying away from a meaningful relationship.
Marriage is not an indicator of a meaningful relationship. However, it is a definitely a barometer that reflects the trends in the society. A report published in 2016 shows that more couples are getting divorced and fewer are getting married in Singapore. Does this indicate that people are shying away from commitments? I don't know.
I found the love of my life, courted her and we now have a beautiful son. My wife and I are in a happy place. We know that we are going to grow old together. And, there is a certain comfort knowing that. However, we worry about how our son is going to fare at relationships when he grows up.
I wanted to know what other dads think about this. So I reached out to a few fellow dads and asked them what they would like to advise their kids when it came to succeeding in relationships. And three common themes emerged.
1# Commitment is the key
There is a certain comfort in knowing that your partner is committed to you. By the time my son grows up, casual dating might be a norm. However, a few dads want to advise their kids on commitment.
Mr Stefan Jackson wants his children to understand the importance of loyalty right from the start. "Quality over quality", says Mr Robert Olivas when it comes to advising his son on dating. Mr Eric Chapman has an interesting take on relationships. The sweet couple has understood the real meaning of a relationship. They repeat a beautiful line every day. It goes:
"I love you always and I like you most of the time."
"We realise that 'like' and 'love' have to be two separate things. Many people think, "I haven't liked you in a few days, so I must be falling out of love with you." That is not the way it works. When my wife and I disagree, we quote it so that we recognise that our love is stronger than our temporary disagreement and momentary dislike of the other person."
So a message to my son: Stay faithful even if you have the most bitter disagreements with your partner. If you want out, have a clean break first before wandering around.
2# Pay attention to your partner
Phones are the new Gods. To paraphrase Neil Gaiman's American Gods, "We sacrifice our time at their altar". We do it without understanding the impact it has on our relationships. And fellow dad Mr Ben Alvarez also agrees! He would tell his children to pay more attention to the partner than the phone.
However, phones are just one of the distractions. As the relationship grows old, we tend to listen lesser and lesser to our spouse. Many times, we lose out on cues. We might just end up damaging the relationship because we do not pay attention to our partner. Mr Massimo Zanette gives a valuable advice: "
Mr Brandon Clark reiterates the importance of communication by saying, "Communicate in everything. You are supposed to be a team. And teams communicate".
So son, communicate. Listen and don't forget to share what is on your mind. Don't keep things bottled up. This has ruined a lot of relationships.
3# Work hard towards maintaining your relationship
This is probably the most important message that almost every dad wants to give his children. But there are a few things that your child should be aware of even before he enters into a serious relationship.
Mr Russell Scott highlights the importance of spotting early signs of stress. "If something bothers you while you are dating, it will destroy you during the marriage", he says. Likewise, Mr
Mr David Sufka wants to tell his children, "If you want success in your relationship you have to work at it every single day".
Mr Jason Barnes sums up relationships in a beautiful way, and that would be my final advice to my son:
And lastly, be prepared to hurt. Don't be cynical and jaded. Don't build walls, don't close yourself off from people. Have hope and love completely."