Modeling a healthy marriage is a vital part of parenting. Showing your children how to negotiate a marriage relationship is your primary responsibility. Well, feeding them is pretty important too, but teaching them healthy relationships is definitely toward the top of the responsible parenting list.
To model healthy relationships make sure your kids can see you:
Spending time together.
Life is hectic especially with kids. Time together is at a premium and it’s tempting to save it for after you put the kids to bed. However, demonstrating you like to spend time together shows your children quality time matters in relationships.
Good relationships utilize good communication. If your kids only see you taking to your phone they won’t understand the importance of face-to-face communication.
Good communication involves more than talking. Demonstrate appropriate listening skills by actively listening to your spouse. Active listening looks like looking at your spouse, asking clarifying questions, and even leaning toward them.
Disagreeing and problem solving.
Disagreeing is fine but please don’t intentionally fight in front of your kids. Some parents believe it’s important for kids to see “reality” including your fights. I disagree. Children cannot understand all the dynamics involved in your argument and feel less secure when their parents fight. Keep your arguments as private as you can. Your children will pick up on the tension well enough anyway. When you and your spouse disagree, make sure your kids see how you solve the problem by negotiating a solution.
Fight in private but make-up where your kids can see you ask for forgiveness and offer forgiveness.
Good relationships are fun. Show your kids it’s fun to be in relationship with one another. If you have lost the ability to have fun ask your kids for how-to-be-silly tips.
Interacting with friends.
We are designed for community. Good marriage relationships don’t isolate. It’s fine to get a babysitter for date night but make sure to include times when you and your spouse hang out with other couples to show your kids what community feels like.
Physical affection is a wonderful part of a great relationship. Your kids may hide their eyes depending on their age but they love it. They’ll feel the love.
Children are observant and master imitators. They may not do what you say but they will always do what you do.
What would you add to this list?
Parenting is hard and takes a more dramatic turn during the holiday season. My ebook, The Best Holiday Ever: How to move from conflict to connection this holiday season discusses how to navigate the wilds of parenting during the Christmas season. It’s easy to read it now.