It’s not uncommon for toddlers and young kids to say that they want to marry one of their parents when they grow up. In the moment, it’s cute and innocent, but if you really stop and think about what your child is saying, the message is obvious. Children in two-parent families look to their parents to model what love looks like. As parents, it’s our responsibility to help our kids build a strong foundation for healthy romantic relationships by leading by example. Your kids watch and learn from everything you do, regardless of what you tell them. The following are just some of the important choices you can make in your relationship to show your kids how to do the same.
Resolving conflict in a relationship is a skill that many couples never develop. Giving your partner the cold shoulder, arguing frequently, name-calling, and blaming are all negative ways of dealing with conflict. Learn how to resolve conflict with your partner by getting to the source of your problems. You both need to be committed to working together to express yourselves and your feelings. Conflict is a given in every relationship but couples who move from conflict to understanding and compassion are rare. Show your kids how to love deeply and honestly by letting them see you resolve conflicts with your partner.
Being reliable means being there for both your family and your spouse or partner. Children look to their parents for stability and security. Entertainment, spontaneity, and personal pleasure should all come secondary to the needs of the family. As a parent, you can’t do whatever you feel like doing at any given time. You need to put your partner and your family’s needs first.
Championing Each Other
Let your kids see you support and encourage your partner. As a couple, you should be each other’s number one fan. Jealousy over your partner’s accomplishments or resentment over the attention your partner receives is not healthy. If you treat your partner in a demeaning way, belittle or downplay his or her accomplishments, your kids will get the message that that’s okay behavior. You should be happy for your partner’s successes and champion him or her whenever possible.
Generosity with your time, affection, and kind words goes a long way with your kids. But what about outside of the family? You and your spouse or partner should practice being generous in every situation. That includes volunteering or helping others apart from the family. Compassion should be modeled towards everyone, especially those who are more vulnerable. Teach your child to look outside or himself or herself by doing the same in your own life.
Kids from two-parent households are often portrayed as more well-adapted than kids from single-parent households, but as a couple you need to be careful that you’re sending the right messages to your child. Demonstrate what a healthy relationship looks like by resolving conflicts through communication, being there for each other, supporting each other, and being generous both towards family members and non-family members alike.