For those of us who are parents or who are involved in the lives of children, we need to make sure that our conversations are showing them that not everyone gets married, and that marriage is no more of a gift than singleness (1 Corinthians 7:7-9, 32-35).
My friend Amy recently had a 45-minute car journey with her 13-year-old son and 9-year-old daughter. Car journeys are often good for chatting and that day her son was in the mood to talk. He announced that he had found the perfect destination for his honeymoon – a sloth sanctuary in Costa Rica. It was a light-hearted conversation, so a good time to have a little fun but also to explore his thinking.
‘What if the person you are going on honeymoon with doesn’t like sloths?’ Amy asked.
‘Well, then I wouldn’t be marrying her,’ he replied.
‘What would matter more – her loving sloths, or her loving Jesus?
‘Hmm, she should probably love both.’
‘And what if you never marry?’
‘Well that would be sad, and I wouldn’t have a honeymoon, so I wouldn’t get to go to Costa Rica.’
‘Why do you think you could only go to Costa Rica on a honeymoon?’
‘Well that’s the time people have a big holiday.’
‘You don’t have to get married and have a honeymoon to go to Costa Rica to see the sloths. You could just save some money and go. And while it probably would be more fun to go with someone else, you could just go with a friend.’
‘Or ME!’ said his little sister: ‘I like sloths! We could go together.’
‘Or me,’ Amy added. ‘I’ll happily look at sloths in Costa Rica with you if you’re paying for us to go.’
‘Oh, that’s true,’ said her son. ‘I don’t have to get married to go and see sloths.’
Amy guided the conversation in a way that helped her kids know that there are different ways their lives may pan out. Her son did not need to get married to live a full life. He did not need to find the perfect woman (one who loves Jesus and likes sloths). Maybe in a later conversation, she could remind him that if he’s friends with Jesus, he is guaranteed the final marriage that will feature far better travels than Costa Rica and even better experiences in God’s creation than seeing sloths. There is a marriage for every Christian that satisfies all of our desires, all of our longings and all our unique passions.
Single friends can have a valuable role in our families just as we can have a valuable one in theirs. Our brilliant single friends are fabulous role models for our children. They are living proof that you don’t need to marry or be sexually active to be happy and fulfilled (just like Jesus) – that what we need is simply friends. Encourage your kids to dream just as much about the great days they will spend with friends as they might dream about their wedding. We don’t all need a spouse and we’re not promised one. We do all need friends. And we do all need to remember that what our kids most need is Jesus.
This post is adapted from Ed Drew’s new book, Raising Confident Kids in a Confusing World: A Parent’s Guide to Grounding Identity in Christ (The Good Book Company, 2023).