Each night when my husband gets home from work, he greets each of us and even with the chaos of the early evening, he and I take 10 or 15 minutes to reconnect with one another.
In those moments, we’re not only showing each other love, but we’re also showing our kids what love looks like. We put an emphasis on reconnecting and openly expressing love because if we don’t have a healthy relationship, our kids won’t know what one looks like.
Dr. Judith Siegel, PhD., author of What Children Learn from Their Parents' Marriage explains how important it is that we remember that as parents, we always have an audience: “Children are keen observers of their parents’ marriage. Whether or not you are aware of it, your children are noticing the large and the small details of your marital relationship.”
We know they’re observing us, but what, specifically, are our kids learning from us?
Children learn that although we may stumble and make mistakes, committed love is unconditional and they also learn the importance of both apologizing and offering true forgiveness.
It’s important for our kids to see that we don’t always agree on things. By showing them how to talk openly and negotiate to find a compromise, they’ll learn how to do the same. Siegel explains: “[Children] pay attention to when and how you disagree, notice how you and your partner react to one another, and in countless ways form impressions about the rules of married life.”
Whether it’s a hug before leaving each day, holding hands on a walk or a spontaneous kiss, kids pick up on the way their parents express love to one another and they learn from your tenderness and physical touch.
When our children hear how we speak about our spouse to others, they are learning about loyalty. We all have rough days when we’re frustrated and tired, but resisting the urge to disparage your husband in front of others teaches our children about loyalty and the unity of family.
As Siegel so perfectly points out, “While your children may not be talking to you about what they are learning, they are drawing conclusions about ‘what happens’ to people who are married. These conclusions will become a permanent part of their beliefs and expectations, and will prepare them to form their own marital relationships when they are older.”
Who better to teach you about love than your parents?
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