We all know that our kids look to us and our behavior to learn how they should or should not live their lives. Whether we like it or not and whether they admit it or not, our kids pattern themselves after us, good or bad.
This is especially true when it comes to our relationship to each other. Our kids will base their views, beliefs and expectations of marriage on what they see in their own home. It’s extremely important that we show them what a happy, healthy marriage looks like, so that they have a healthy view of marriage and a pattern to follow for marital success.
I found a great website the other day called TwoOfUs.org from the National Healthy Marriage Resource Center. It’s a terrific site and they have a great article (meant for dads but appropriate for all of us) on role modeling a happy marriage to our kids. Here’s what they suggest:
1. Respect each other.
When children see their parents treating each other with respect they will be more likely to feel accepted and show respect to others.”
2. Make time for your marriage.
A thriving marriage is one of the most important gifts you can give your children. Carve out time and space for your relationship and romance.”
3. Show affection in front of the kids.
It is reassuring to a child that the two people he/she depends on most still like each other. Be tasteful and age-appropriate, but don’t be afraid to show a little verbal or physical affection.”
4. Remain hopeful.
If your marriage isn’t strong today, don’t despair. While you can’t always control your (spouse’s) behavior, you can command your own. And positive adjustments in your actions and attitudes, over time, may very well influence the overall tone of your marriage.”
5. Remain fearless.
When times are really rough, try to remain fearless.”
I would add that it’s not important to hide tough times from our kids. It’s far more important to show them that we’re committed to resolving them – together.
6. Make time for your family.
How you spend your time reveals what you value most. Spending time with your family often means sacrificing other things, but it is essential to maintain the health of your marriage and your family bond.”
The article goes on to say that none of us should aim for a perfect marriage, but for healthy and loving instead. We’ll leave you with the final and most important point of all:
By consistently treating your (spouse) with respect and kindness—even during hard times—you teach your children the skills they will need to form healthy relationships themselves.”
Yes. And role-modeling those skills is one of the greatest gifts we can give them.