Home » News » Education »

January 31, 2014 Print

Friday 5: Jeff Johnston Talks About How to Teach Your Children About Marriage

by Bethany Monk

Raising children isn’t easy — and raising them to value and honor marriage is most definitely no simple task. As part of its efforts to help parents create a solid foundation — where children can grow and learn about God’s design for the institution — Focus on the Family has created “Teach Your Children About Marriage.”

The two-part booklet provides myriad ideas on how to model healthy marriage to your children. It also offers practical applications for children at every age and stage. And it’s free.

Focus Marriage Analyst Jeff Johnston talked with CitizenLink about this new resource.

CitizenLink: What are some of the ways children benefit from being raised in a home with a mom and a dad?

Jeff Johnston: For decades now, research has shown that children with a married mother and father do best physically, emotionally and psychologically. They’re less likely to get involved with substance abuse or crime, and they do better in school. Marriage between a man and a woman is one of the best ways to combat poverty. We care about children, so we want to promote an environment where they do best.

CL: Why is this “marriage kit” so important for families?

JJ: You can’t assume any more that your kids will grow up understanding what marriage is — the union of a man and a woman. And you can’t assume they’ll know why marriage matters: It’s a foundational building block for society; children do best with a married mother and father; and healthy marriages are the best way to combat poverty and a whole host of social problems — crime, drug abuse, educational problems.

So our team worked to create a creative, user-friendly tool to help parents understand God’s design for marriage, help them model a healthy marriage to their kids and give them ideas for talking to their children about marriage.

Christian marriages and families can be an example of healthy living. They don’t have to be perfect, but we can model how to deal with conflict, how to treat each other, forgiveness, working together — commitment and faithfulness.

CL: In what ways does our culture demean or distort God’s design for marriage?

JJ: When we look around we see the destructiveness of the sexual revolution — the movement for supposed “sexual freedom.” This shift in how we treat God’s gifts of sexuality and marriage has caused chaos: broken sexuality; divorce; broken relationships that lead to abortion; sexually transmitted diseases; and kids being raised without fathers.

The Internet is flooded with pornography and confusion about what it means to be a woman or a man. Those are some of the fruits of the seismic shift our culture’s undergone. It’s like we’ve had this series of huge societal earthquakes and we are looking around at the wreckage, trying to pick up the pieces.

CL: It seems like our current culture has deviated almost completely away from a Christian worldview, especially in terms of marriage and sexuality.

JJ: A large part of the culture has moved away from a Christian sexual ethic — it’s like we are a post-Christian or pagan society. Just look at some examples from popular culture in the past couple months:

  • On Thanksgiving, Lady Gaga was featured on “The Muppets” singing with a drag queen
  • The Macy’s parade had a dance performance from “Kinky Boots,” a Broadway show about a shoe factory that makws boots for drag queens
  • On the first of the year, the Rose Parade included two men getting married on top of a float
  • Just this last week the Grammy Awards broadcast a mass wedding — with same-sex couples

If your children or grandchildren are watching this — say they’re just watching the Rose Parade — they’re seeing a gay wedding. Our culture is inculcating our children with sexual confusion and sexual brokenness.

CL: What do you hope people gain from the “Teach Your Children About Marriage” project?

JJ: We want to make a difference in the world around us. My sons and I have been reading about William Wilberforce, who set out to eliminate the slave trade in England — and then to eliminate slavery. He also wanted to change the moral character of English society — to model and teach healthy, virtuous living. That’s what we want to do. We want to follow Wilberforce’s example. We realize this is a long-term project; we’re looking at the next 40-to-50, maybe. But we can make a difference starting with our own marriages and our own children and grandchildren. That’s what these resources do: They start out at a real basic level, parents interacting with their children and teaching them that God’s design for marriage is a man and a woman, in a committed, permanent relationship.

View and download “Teach Your Children About Marriage.”