When you have kids, you are automatically on display 24/7. Everything you do, they see and they learn from your example. Your marriage is no exception. There are certain things to do (and don’t do) to raise your child with a healthy view of marriage. Here are four ways to give a healthy view of marriage.
1. Always show affection
Don’t be afraid to show affection with your partner in front of your kids. Hug, kiss, dance, hold hands, use sappy nicknames- do it all! It will not only show your child that you really love your spouse, but also that it is important to show them that you love them. There is nothing wrong with a little PDA, as long as it’s kept PG for your kids. They will learn to become comfortable with the mushy stuff and want it in their own relationships.
2. Fight and make-up
No marriage is perfect. There will be disagreements no matter how much you love each other. It is important to show your child that fights happen, but it is also VERY important to show them how to make up with each other. Fighting in front of a child is tricky. It can lead them to feel scared or worried about your relationship with your spouse, so you need to be aware of that and reassure them.
It is also important to fight in a way that is not extreme (no screaming, name calling or physical fighting, of course) and showing your child that even though you disagree from time to time, it doesn’t mean you will be getting divorced or that you hate each other. Instead, you can disagree but still get along.
Make sure you tell each other sorry and forgive each other in front of your kids so they also learn how to make up from a fight.
3. Discuss your family goals
Discussing your hopes, dreams and goals for yourself and your family is a great way to teach a child that marriage is not only about the mushy stuff, but also working together towards a common goal.
Involve them in this process as well. Have them help with the goals. Pick places they want to go on vacation. Have them help with savings and budgets to make it happen. All of these activities help them to learn how to make and keep goals as well.
4. Have a date night every week
Making each other a priority is a great quality to teach your children. Have a date night every week. Whether it is going out on a date, or staying in and having some alone time together, make it work. Teach your kids that just because you are married does not mean you forget about spending time with each other. You have to put work into your marriage in order to keep it going; teaching your children that it doesn’t just keep going on its own is an important quality for them to learn.
Now, here are the ways to ruin your marriage…
1. Speak badly about your spouse
One of the worst things you can do in front of your kids is to speak badly about your spouse in front of them. Not only does it teach them that it is okay to speak bad about other people, but also that you have feelings you are not sharing with your spouse. If you have a concern or a problem, you should speak directly to them about it to their face, not behind their back.
2. Question their parenting skills
It is important that you are a united front. When you undermine or question a decision they’ve made in front of your kids, it shows you are not united at all. This can be very dangerous. It can teach your kids that they can play each of you. They know if you say no, it is possible your spouse will say yes. They pick up on these things super quick, and it is important that you are always on the same page with each other.
3. Make them the bad guy
One big parenting mistake not to teach your kid, is to make the other parent the bad guy. It may be easy to blame them for a decision that your kids don’t like, that way they can be upset with your spouse and not you, but it sets a bad example. It not only teaches your child that one of you is the “bad” one and one the “good” one, but it also makes you seem like you’re not in agreement with each other. Make sure your child knows that you are both in agreement with whatever it is you are telling them.
While you may not get all of these right the first time, it is important to remember that your kids are always watching you, so make sure you are showing them what to do, not what not to do!
If you slip up, it’s okay, just make sure to communicate with your children about what you should have done. They will understand that marriage is not easy, neither is being a parent, but owning up to your mistakes is all a part of life!