One of the best ways to give your children a solid foundation of marriage is to lead by example through words and actions. A couple committed to the health of their marriage will raise children who understand and support each other. On top of that, your relationship with your spouse will be the core foundation of your family life, one that will continuously teach your kids important life lessons.
From the moment they are born to the moment they start their own families and immerse in family life, they will often model their decisions and attitudes on yours. And what they develop during their formative years will likely become ingrained in them until they grow old.
Here are just some of the lessons kids will learn from their parents’ marriage:
A child’s first experience with love is the one they receive from their parents. But as they grow older and become more self-aware, they will model a more nuanced understanding of love from your marital relationship. They will learn that there are many ways to express love, from helping with chores and celebrating milestones to caring for one another when one is ill.
A couple that says “I love you” to one another with abandon or show it through other means will raise children who are comfortable expressing and showing love to others. So if you want to raise loving and expressive kids, the best place to start is to be loving and expressive with your spouse. It’s important to acknowledge that love comes in many forms, and it may not be the same as when you gave your wife that braided diamond engagement ring. What matters is that you allow it to evolve and grow deeper.
Marriage is more than love, and your kids will start to realize it. They will come to know the value of mutual respect as they watch you communicate openly, make decisions mutually, and honor each other’s boundaries. If you want to raise a family that respects each other, it’s important to be mindful of how you treat your spouse.
Do you dominate the conversation or allow the other part to say their piece? Do you consider your spouse your equal, or do you treat them as inferior? Do you see your spouse as someone who’s capable of making sound decisions, or do you insist on always being right? Keep in mind that the goal is not to be a perfect married couple but one that acknowledges flaws in their relationship and seeks to address them.
One of the biggest lessons marriage can teach a person’s capacity to make mistakes, empathize, and eventually, forgive. At many points in your life, you or your spouse will make poor decisions and commit seemingly unforgivable mistakes like lying about finances, gambling or drinking problems, or a fit of anger.
When you choose to forgive, your kids will learn the value of mercy, patience, and giving second chances. After all, nobody’s perfect. Marriage can also teach the value of forgiving oneself, as in the case of couples who willingly face the consequences of their actions and make peace with themselves.
One way children learn to become affectionate is by copying what their parents do to each other. For instance, a kid will hug their sibling or hold their hands when they are upset or afraid. They learn that kissing your spouse, helping them with chores, opening the door for the other, giving a gift, or celebrating a birthday or anniversary are great ways to show affection. Similarly, if a kid grows up in an indifferent household, they will likely grow up uncomfortable showing their affection to others.
It’s normal for kids to see parents argue or fight. You may not notice it, but your kids will find a way to listen in, even when they’re in their rooms or preoccupied with something. Spousal conflict can lead to compromise in an ideal situation, which is a great lesson to teach your kids. They will pick up on this when they get into a fight at school, in the playground, or with their sibling. Whether your kids are listening or not, do your best to arrive at a middle ground whenever you’re arguing over your differences.
Many couples aspire to make kindness a lifestyle. Not just generosity or compassion, but pure kindness that translates into everyday actions, words, and thoughts. By being unequivocally kind to one another, your kids will look to you as an example and try to model their behavior on yours. So do your best to practice goodness in front of your kids, and they will grow up having that same goal.
Many married couples aspire to be good people, and one of the best ways they can do that is to impart goodness, joy, love, and peace to their children.