It can come as a big shock to parents when they hear that their minor child wants to get married. They may not have realised just how seriously their teenager was about their boyfriend/girlfriend or they may have been completely oblivious to the relationship. How should they react to this news? What should they say? This article will address these questions and offer suggestions on what to do if your teenager approaches you and asks for your consent to get married.
Do not jump off the deep end
As tempting as it may be for parents to feel angry and jump off the deep end and forbid any further mention of marriage, they need to take a different approach. Rather than solve the problem, getting angry can actually make matters worse. Minors who are talking about marriage are considering making a major life change at a very young age. Whether or not they have properly thought through their decision will be irrelevant at this stage. It is the fact that they are seriously mentioning marriage at all that needs to be addressed.
Parents need to try and stay calm and talk with their child in a civil manner about what makes them feel that marriage under the age of 18 is such a good idea. Some answers might surprise parents. The teenager may mention how they are in a loving relationship and they want to make it official, they are expecting a baby or they do not want to lose their partner by making them wait.
Fear of waiting
Parents often know their child so well that they know that waiting will benefit them as they mature and grow older. But this may not be immediately obvious to a teenager who is “in love” and eager to get married. If the teenager is afraid of waiting a second longer than necessary, then the parents need to find out why that is. Does your teenager feel that their partner will move on and find someone else unless they agree to marry them now? Will their partner be moving to another state or country and they feel that marriage is the only way to stay together? These two concerns are common among teenagers in this position.
But rather than solve the issue, marriage can create further problems if either spouse felt rushed and pressured into marriage. Parents can help by gently explaining that if these are the reasons they want to get married sooner rather than later, then consent will have to be withheld. They are not strong enough reasons to marry. Waiting can actually help a couple assess what they really want out of life and if they even want to stay together. But rushing into marriage will not afford a couple that opportunity.
It is likely that your minor child is still in school. But what do they plan to do if they marry before they turn 18? Will they still attend school or will they drop out? Teenagers who drop out of high school are less likely to find the kinds of jobs that they want. A high school diploma or its equivalent really is a passport into the workforce. Even jobs that may seem menial will require evidence from employees that they finished their schooling. School needs to take priority over romance, even if the “m” word has been mentioned.
If your teenager wishes to rush through with marriage because of impending motherhood or fatherhood, then you will need to discuss these issues carefully. Does your teenager love the mother/father of their baby? Would marriage have been an option if the pregnancy had not occurred? Teenagers who wish to marry so that their child can have the benefit of two married parents obviously wants to do the “right” thing. But marriage may not be the best option. It does not guarantee that the young couple will stay together after their baby is born. In fact, many teenage couples end up in the divorce courts by their 20’s.
As a result, it is usually in the best interests of minors to wait rather than get married before they reach 18. If they are adamant that they still want to marry, then they will be legally able to do so without parental consent once they turn 18. But parents are responsible for ensuring that their children do not make any rash decisions about marriage while they are still minors. They will not have that same influence once they reach their majority, so if they handle the situation delicately when they first hear the news, then they could help to prevent a premature marriage.