Kernels of Thanks
In honor of Thanksgiving and “National Family Week,” this week, we celebrate the pilgrims at the first Thanksgiving table–and the family at your Thanksgiving table.
After the first Thanksgiving in 1621, there were seasons when the pilgrims had to ration their food. Legend has it that during the “starving time” of 1623 the pilgrims’ daily ration was reduced to five kernels of parched corn per person. Two hundred years later, at the Founders Day banquet of 1820, five kernels of parched corn were placed on each empty plate before the meal, to symbolize the pilgrims’ hardships.
Many families continue this tradition today, by placing five kernels of corn on each dinner plate before the Thanksgiving meal. Traditionally, the five kernels of corn represent the blessings of Autumn beauty, love, family, friendship, and freedom in America. Today’s families often let each family member choose five unique things they’re thankful for.
In that spirit, we offer five “kernels of thanks” to you and your family this Thanksgiving week:
1. Thank you for valuing your marriage. Your marriage doesn’t have to be perfect to be “good enough.” As well-known marriage researcher Maggie Gallagher explained, “Not only individuals, but also whole communities do better, when good-enough marriages are common.” Marriage is a process. Even if you are struggling now, “a large majority of individuals in unhappy marriages who hang in there. . . end up reporting their marriages are very happy a few years later.”
2. Thank you for not hastily considering no-fault divorce. Enacted by most states during the 1970’s, no fault divorce laws allow one spouse to file for divorce for any reason–or no reason at all. Since 1974, about 1 million children per year have seen their parents divorce. Sadly, divorce begets divorce. One large study shows that children of divorced parents are 76 percent more likely to get divorced themselves. In addition, many divorced couples feel that their divorce may have been a mistake. In one recent study, at least one spouse in three-quarters of divorcing couples had second thoughts.
3. Thank you for your careful parenting. Men and women bring different strengths to a family. Decades of social science confirm that “children who are raised by married mothers and fathers do better in virtually every way social scientists know how to measure. Overall, they have fewer behavior problems, reach higher educational goals, and are more likely to achieve a successful marriage of their own.
4. Thank you for sharing your values with your teens. Contrary to what you what you may think sometimes, parents have an enormous influence on their teenagers. It is important for parents to talk to their teens about their convictions about love, commitment, and “the deeper meanings and traditions of marriage.”
5. Thank you for opening your heart to religion. Dr. Loren Marks of Louisiana State University notes that “religious faith is the salient and inextricable thread in the quilt of family life.” A major study recently reported by National Marriage Project shows that couples who attend church together and pray together have better quality relationships. Religion has a great impact on young people as well. For example, the primary reason teenagers say that they do not have sex is because it is against their religion.
In short, thank you for giving our society a secure foundation and future. Your family is something for all of us to be grateful for this week.
Your friends at United Families International
*Guest Post from the leadership of the Utah Chapter of United Families International
Maggie Gallagher, 2004. Can Government Strengthen Marriage? Evidence from the Social Sciences, National Fatherhood Initiative, Institute for Marriage and Public Policy, and Institute for American Values, New York, NY: 7. Web. 9 Nov. 2010 < http://www.marriagedebate.com/pdf/Can%20Government%20Strengthen%20Marriage.pdf >
Alan J. Hawkins, 2009. Should I Keep Trying to Work it Out? A Guidebook for Individuals and Couples at the Crossroads of Divorce (And Before), produced on behalf of the Utah Commission on Marriage, Salt Lake City, Utah: 44, 65, 66, 77, 138. Web. 9 Nov. 2010 < http://utahmarriage.org/files/uploads/Crossroads%20Guidebook.pdf >
W. Bradford Wilcox, 2009. “The Evolution of Divorce,” National Affair, Issue 1, Fall 2009. Web. Nov 9, 2010. <http://www.nationalaffairs.com/publications/detail/the-evolution-of-divorce >
The Marriage Movement, a Statement of Principles, 2000. Coalition for Marriage, Family and Couples Education, Institute for American Values, New York, NY: 5. Web. 9 Nov. 2010 < http://www.americanvalues.org/pdfs/marriagemovement.pdf >
Maggie Gallagher, 2004. p. 23.
Ibid. p. 8.
Barbara Dafoe Whitehead and Marline Peterson, 2006. Making a Love Connection: Teen Relationships, Pregnancy, and Marriage, National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. Washington DC: 17. Web. 9 Nov. 2010 < http://www.thenationalcampaign.org/resources/pdf/pubs/MALC_FINAL.pdf >
Marline Pearson, 2000. “Can Kids Get Smart About Marriage?” A Report for the National Marriage Project in The Next Generation Series, The National Marriage Project, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Piscataway, NJ: 35.
Loren Marks, 2003. “The Effects of Religious Beliefs in Marriage and Family,” Marriage and Families, Aug. 2003, Web. 9 Nov. 2010, < http://marriageandfamilies.byu.edu/issues/2003/August/religiousbeliefs.aspx >
W. Bradford Wilcox, 2010. “Across Races, Couples that Pray Together Are Happier, NMP Study Finds,” The National Marriage Project, 11 Aug., 2010, Web. 9 Nov. 2010 < http://www.virginia.edu/marriageproject/ >
Barbara Dafoe Whitehead and Marline Peterson, 2006. pp. 23-24.