There are so many things to think about as parents. Making sure everyone is healthy, cared for, fed, cleaned, educated, polite, happy, loved, etc, etc. We as parents work so hard to make sure we provide these things for our children and there are so many things that we do subconsciously that really do create models for them as they grow. How and what we eat. Parents who snack have kids who snack. Parents who eat salads and steamed vegetables have kids who eat salads and steamed vegetables. Parents who are active have kids who are active. Everything we do is a lesson to our kids and one of the things that I try to be very aware of is how my husband and I treat each other. Not just in front of our child (soon to be children) but in all instances.
Don't fool yourself. Even if you argue in private, even if you never say a negative word in front of your children, kids know if their parents are getting along. Respect and love are shown in so much more than just words and if you're in a relationship without those things they will know.
Not only will they know, but they will consider it normal.
Modeling a healthy marriage is the best way to help your children grow into adults who have healthy marriages.
Well, 'duh'. Right?
It sounds so easy, but is it?? What is a healthy marriage? How do you know if you have one?
I don’t think that I have the answers to those questions. Really, I’ve been married for 5 years. What do I know?? I took a basic Psychology course in college, but never pursued it further. I have no background or formal education in this area.
I don’t know what the definition is of a healthy marriage or how to identify the characteristics of one.
But I do know what I want for my children.
I want my daughter(s) to find a person who loves and respects her. That easy though. Isn't that what all mothers want for their daughters?
But more than that, I want my daughter to know how to be a good wife.
I want her to be able to communicate without screaming.
I want her to be able to define and articulate what her needs are to her spouse without being mean, or demeaning, or demanding.
To know how to choose her battles.
To know when to put her foot down and when to find a middle ground.
How to reach that middle ground fairly.
How to demonstrate her love and respect for her spouse in appropriate ways that also show love and respect for herself.
Those are all things that I can do, that I can model for her. It is up to me to be the wife who communicates without screaming. It is up to me, to be the wife who can comprise a situation without compromising herself.
In every interaction with my husband, I am modeling a behavior. In how we treat each other and respond to each other's needs, we are modeling a behavior.
We need to be aware of those behaviors. We need to be sure we know what we’re modeling.
For the mother’s, next time you argue with your husband, think about your son being the person on the other side of that argument. Are you treating your husband the way you want your son’s future wife to treat him? Are you being respectful? Honest? Fair? Are you raising a daughter who is going to treat her husband (someone else’s son) the way you would want your son treated by his wife?
For the father’s with daughters, same question. Put your daughter on the receiving end of that conversation. Are you treating your wife the way you want your daughter treated in her future relationship. Are you calm and respectful? Do you automatically blame or do you share responsibility? Are you raising a son who is going to treat his future wife the way you want your daughter treated in a marriage?
Be the spouse you want your child to be.