Being in a faithful marriage is a really good idea, especially for your children. And yet, when you look around the world, monogamy is not that common. Only around 15 per cent of societies are monogamous, and even they cheat a lot!
Societies are rarely monogamous in places where land is plentiful, or its ownership is vague, or where women till the land with hoes. Monogamy seems to develop whenever men farm the land with ploughs, or a society is urbanising, building a modern economy, and increasing life expectancy.
Largely that’s because monogamy has a lot going for it in a developed economy, despite all the cheating. Because investing more of your time and resources in fewer children ensures that they have a much better chance of being successful as adults.
And that’s not just about material possessions, or your children’s health or education. It’s because the close relationships that develop in small, trusting families provide very important psychological benefits.
For example, parents who choose to be truly monogamous provide role models that teach their children good values. Such as trustworthiness, honesty and kindness. They show them how to control their impulses, how to work hard, and to believe in their own abilities. They develop their children’s interests and even their intelligence.
Children also seem to be happiest when their parents have a close, loving relationship with one another. When their parents are affectionate and interested in each other, able to resolve the inevitable conflicts, and always put themselves first within the family. Children find it reassuring when their parents spend time together and they’re not allowed to interrupt.
None of this is about telling your children what to do. Because children watch their parents like hawks, and are astonishingly good at spotting when what you say and what you do don’t match. So it’s not what you tell them that influences your children, it’s what you do.
And especially what their father does. Because, despite all the bad things that people say about men these days, it’s really good for children to have their father around. Men do deserve much of their bad reputation, of course. After all they commit most of the crime in society, and fight, and get drunk, and mistreat women, and cause most of the car accidents.
And yet, men’s contribution to the family is surprisingly important. Because fathering and mothering are two different parenting styles, and children need both.
Especially because a good father shows his children what being a man is all about. Both boys and girls use their father’s behaviour as a role model on which they base their behaviour and expectations as adults. So children need to see their father working hard, succeeding among the world of men, being trustworthy and dependable, loving his wife, and being firm but affectionate towards his children.
A man who does all that will have a good life, and a very good marriage. And so in their turn will his children!