Children are more aware and knowledgeable than we like to think, which is why we might underestimate their ability to absorb information that we demonstrate in our everyday lives. Their little eyes and ears pick up everything, that’s why the one time you said “shit” they copied you right away – and now you know to watch your language around them.
Well the same goes with your behaviour as parents and how you present yourselves as a couple; your children will look up to you and believe your relationship is what all romantic relationships are like. As parents, you are your child’s first example of a partnership, so it only makes sense that they will mimic what your relationship is like when they get older.
You’re more of an influence than you think
There’s a reason some children that come from abusive households or those suffering from domestic violence are often the victims or perpetrators of violent relationships later in life. They grow up believing the way their parents are behaving is what a normal, functioning relationship looks like; when they start dating, they might be attracted to people who have abusive capabilities or become the victim of a DV relationship.
While this is an extreme example, it shows that children are paying more attention to you than you think. You’re their role models and shape the way they view your gender roles as well; if your mother was the breadwinner and your father was the full time stay-at-home parent, you might have grown up believing that women and men can have either role, whereas your friends could explain their parental roles were reversed.
In your household you may be the income earner and your partner works part time, or you may both work and take it upon yourself to do most of the household duties; whatever your role is, have you thought about what message you are sending to your children? By consciously sharing the load with your spouse, you’re showing your kids that a relationship works best when both partners are working together.
You’re showing your kids a united front by giving each other respect and responsibility, rather than leaving the cooking, washing, gift-buying, wrapping, tidying, laundry, errands and cleaning up to mum and the barbecuing on weekends to dad. Even before your children understand verbal communication, they pick up on behaviours and non-verbal things; here they begin to learn the roles you each have as parents.
4 ways to positively impact your children
1. Being affectionate
While you want to show love and affection toward your children as part of their nurturing, you can’t skip past being affectionate with one another. As children learn from the behaviours you show them, by not showing affection toward each other—such as not kissing, hugging or being next to each other on the couch—means your children will struggle with intimacy with their future partner.
This also means ways to not show your partner affection, such as using it as a reward when they’ve done something good; giving each other regular and unconditional affection shows your kids they are allowed to be this way in future and it doesn’t need to be a reward. So next time your partner has done something wrong or is having a bad day, show them comfort in front of your kids to demonstrate affection in different ways.
2. Going on dates without the kids
Many parents stop being a ‘couple’ after they have kids; they forget to compliment each other, they hardly talk about something that doesn’t involve their children, and they don’t take date night seriously like they used to. They’ve put on the parent hat and don’t know how to take it off.
Being a parent is hard work, and while kids take up all your time, energy and love, there’s hardly any left for your partner at the end of the day – leaving your libido on lock down. The thing is, your relationship with your partner is the foundation and cornerstone of your family unit; without maintaining it, you’ll eventually have issues. Date night means you’re putting your relationship first and while your kids might hate being palmed off to Grandma’s for the night, they’ll grow up knowing their parents were happily in love.
3. Domestic equality
Running a household is no easy task, but tackling it together is important for keeping your head above water, your sanity in check and showing your children it takes two to tango. Sharing your household duties with your partner has many benefits, including the fact your children will expect their partner to help them with chores when they get older.
Being role models in this area is vital because it sets a standard for your children in their minds that they shouldn’t carry the burden and let their partner have a free ride. Many hands make light work, even getting your kids involved in household duties will help them see the value in enjoying mundane chores.
4. Handling conflict
It’s an odd statement, but by arguing in front of your children in a healthy manner you actually show them how to handle disagreements in a mature manner. This can teach your children valuable lessons in conflict resolution and being able to compromise with their significant other.
However, this can be a fine line as your children shouldn’t be around if you tend to argue using tactics of name-calling, belittling, any type of abuse or walking away from the argument before it’s been settled. Next time an argument starts to brew, remember that your children are able to hear and see what’s going on – they’ll absorb however you both choose to continue and it could shape how they enter relationships in future.
Dr. Lurve is the nation’s leading love and relationship expert, offering her extensive knowledge and experience to singles and couples everywhere. Dr. Lurve can help you discover love within yourself, helping you unlock ways to embrace love and passion to create a long-lasting, fulfilling relationship. Dr Lurve offers several opportunities to work with her in The Lurve Lab. This includes a unique series of courses, seminars, talks and intensives for those ready to find, cultivate, and keep love. Dr. Lurve guides couples and singles by creating connections that last a lifetime.
You can find more information on Dr Lurve at www.drlurve.com or on Instagram @dr.lurve
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