In 2015, America legalised same-sex marriage. Since then, many debates have surfaced about the limitations of same-sex marriage — one of them being whether it would affect how children would be raised should the same-sex couple decide to have children.
Marriage experts Dr. Greg Smalley and his wife, Erin, say that having a man and a woman is important when it come to raising a child.
Speaking to Yahoo Singapore at the Crazy Little Thing Called Marriage public seminar on Wednesday (July 6), the Smalley’s shared some insights on LGBT and other marriage issues.
“The best place to raise a child is with a man and a woman,” said Greg Smalley. “Without judging from a moral standpoint, if that’s right or wrong, I always look at what is the absolute best for our children,” he added.
Smalley shared that a woman and a man are both irreplaceable when it comes to raising a child. “As a dad, there are things that I provide for both my daughter and my son that Erin, as a woman can’t provide and vice-versa.”
Single parent families face a similar situation, where they lack a father or a mother in the household. Support is essential in raising children in these families.
“Being a single parent, everything falls on you, so support yourself with good community, and surround yourself with that,” Erin Smalley added.
As these parents need are unable to assume the role of the mother or the father, getting someone to fill in these roles are essential.
“If it’s a mom raising a son, get a mentor for your son. Get someone who is going to speak into his life as a man and that might be a grandfather, an uncle, a cousin, a friend. And if you are a single mom, surround yourself with girl friends, that will bring support to you,” she said.
Introducing children into a marriage
When children are introduced to a marriage, things change drastically. Often people find themselves turning all their attention on the child. However, the Smalley’s say that keeping the attention on the relationship should be a top priority.
“Kids are very important, and require a lot of time. But the best thing you can do for your kids is to have a great marriage…You are providing them stability, and support that they need,” said Erin.
“I think some of the best advice that I was ever given when I became a new dad, was that this child cannot be the centre of the family…and everything revolves around the child. The key is to recognise that this child is part of the family and is no more important than our marriage.” Greg added.
In their own family, the Smalley’s made it a point to teach their children the need for personal time once in a while to keep their marriage strong. If their children called them when they were out on a date, or complained when they were put to bed, the Smalley’s let them know that they were taking their personal time away.
“If they took five minutes away from ours, we would put them in a timeout the next day…They need to understand that they are part of a family and being a family member means that us having a strong marriage is in their best interest, and that’s an important thing, to keep this marriage very strong,” Greg explained.
Dealing with differences in a marriage
Cultural, religious or gender differences can sometimes wreak havoc on a marriage when both parties cannot compromise. Many couples often see these differences as problems, but the Smalley’s say they should be seen as opportunities.
“This is the really unique beauty of each marriage because we have a man and a woman, and together, with their differences — it creates a uniqueness to the relationship…They’re opportunities to create a beauty and a balance in a relationship,” Erin said.
Likening differences in marriage to playing tennis. Greg said that couples should not be on opposing sides, but rather working together as a team.
“You need to resolve it in a way that feels good to both people. If you strive for unity, if that’s your goal, that you want to find solutions for problems that both of us feel about, there’s nothing you can’t work through,” he says.