I want my kids to know what a healthy relationship looks like.
If your child were to candidly evaluate the relationship you and your spouse (or significant other) have what would they say about you?
I gave that a little space so the question could hang there for a second. So, what do you think what is your child’s interpretation of your relationship. It is a probably a good question to ask yourself every so often, because like it or not they are watching you. My wife and I got the answer to this question from one of sons once. He’d had the chance to observe other parents indirectly, and as my wife got off the phone with me he commented to her that she and I are always saying how much we love each other and seem like we like to be around each other. Which had been in contrast to some other couples that he had observed.
This got me thinking about the example we set for our kids when it comes to personal relationships. This probably ought to be on my list of things I want my kids to know (that list is getting longer and longer). Since so much of what our kids learn is from example, what are we teaching them by our example in relationships? How are we doing not only with our spouse/significant other, but with our other children, our siblings, our parents etc…
- Do you say “I love you”?
- Do you speak negatively about your relationships when the other half is not around?
- Do you find ways to be together?
- Do you share the relationship workload together?
- Do you find ways to include your children as you work through the good and the bad?
- Do your children see you resolve conflict?
I can’t presume and won’t attempt to tell anyone what should or should not work in their relationships. I can only speak for my own, and there are times that it is difficult to do the right thing and behave the right way. Being aware that my children are observing my relationship is motivating to me. It is motivating because I want them to be as happy with their partners as I am with mine. I want them to see through my wife and I how to conduct a healthy relationship. I want them to see through our example how we correct our course and navigate through conflicts. I want them to know it is work, sometimes hard work, but that in the end it is work that is worth the reward. Most of all I want to know I love their Mom, and I love being their Dad!
(This post originally appeared on The Good Men Project )