Foundation of successful families

2016-08-24 06:00

IT is becoming increasingly difficult to be a parent and I am sure the pressures of the modern economy have a lot to do with this. I do not like to see devaluing family bonds as a result of separation, divorce and estranged relations.

How do you, as a parent, promote matrimony or marriage to your children when the economy puts strain on relationships and the family institution bungles under economic pressure, as well as psychological and emotional insecurities that go with it?

What do I tell my children when it is time for them to be matched with young men who will eventually come into their lives? Do I tell them to fall in love with a stranger who may one day run away from them for whatever reason.

Why do relations seem feeble and short-lived nowadays? What has the rand done to power relations in the bedroom? Does the relationship lose its value because of societal expectations, glitter, glamour and everything opposed to simplicity?

I know that women love beauty, comfort, leisure, pleasure, sophistication and all things expensive.

I know that men love to be free from debt and financial pressure, and do not like a partner who finds reasons to spend money or waste hard-earned resources.

I also know that reasonable men pride themselves on being dependable and they love to please their partners, if it is only to make them feel like real men, whatever that means.

Still things do go wrong. They go wrong because it is in the nature of women to push their men to the limit or suffer from overexpectation. Things go wrong because it in the nature of men to pack up and explode when they have had enough of a pushy, demanding and even extravagant lover.

Yet again the times they are a changing. Gone are the days when only men earned an income or generated wealth. Where does that put the status of the male ego in a relationship?

I know that guys do not like a woman who brags and is independent, egotistic and self-important. However, a degree of self-sufficiency, on the part of the woman, is also appreciated and welcome.

Then what is the problem? The problem is that females may have a weakness of not being able to relate to their partner in a healthy manner when they are too independent. The social expectation that a man is the provider messes up the understanding and mental attitude of some women, who suddenly find themselves having to be providers and bread winners.

This confused understanding of a traditional man’s role distorts their perception of reality. How are they supposed to relate to this man, who may be bringing in less income, or his source of income is irregular, unreliable, insufficient or humble?

A revolutionary mental attitude is the only way out of this challenging social reality that most couples – young and old – have to contend with nowadays. It is revolutionary for a man to accept that his female counterpart may be earning more money than him, and live with it or come to terms with it. This necessarily also means that her views and feelings are important and she is a key player in decision-making.

It is revolutionary for a woman to see a man as an equal who may not be financially strong or stable, yet they need all the love and support as well as a feeling that they are valued, appreciated and welcomed. There is nothing as sad and even foolish as a woman who fails to accept her man and make him happy because of his social status.

At least I have an idea of what to say to my children in future. I will tell my children that it is important to choose the type of man who is rich in morals because a partnership with such a person may be more full-filling than money. I say this because I am tired of reading in the newspapers that an economically stable couple has ended their relationship due to infidelity, poor moral conduct or suspicions.

Many couples are divorcing, separating or keeping a distance because of poor morals and mutual jealousies. Some couples are reportedly killing each other and making their children suffer due to poor relations.

I can tell my children that cheating on your partner, spouse or lover is the number one cause of family squabbles, tensions and going separate ways. Another challenge or cause of unhappiness and discontent in relationships is people’s mental attitude to economic and social power.

There is nothing as sad as witnessing a woman with a bad or domineering attitude at home because of her financial muscle. It is equally sad to watch a father who is so miserly that he fails to take care of his partner and children’s needs because saving money is more important to him than making his dependants happy.

It is only when we can understand these matters and embrace good or ethical conduct, shun infidelity, promote mutual acceptance and understanding regardless of power relations, that we can try or endeavour to be good spouses and parents who can sustain the family institution well or create a home and family environment in which children can be raised healthily.

• Simphiwe Mkhize writes in his personal capacity.

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