Show Your Kids How to Love

The best way is to lead by example.

Posted Nov 09, 2015

Do you want to know a way to give your kids the gift of being able to have a great relationship in their adult lives? If so, then all you have to do is to have a good relationship with your partner; it’s the best thing you could ever bestow upon those you love and influence. Seeing how you treat each other will shape the way your children choose their own partners, whether they like it or not.

This is serious stuff, and if a child is brought up in a home where the parents cheat, it will be hard for that child to trust others later on in life. It creates a trust gap, and people from that kind of background tend to fear that their spouse will do the same thing their parents did. Any romantic relationship or close friendship is automatically suspect, and you end up living in a world of deception and anxiety.

If you and your partner speak with raised voices or disrespectfully yell at each other, it scares your children (because unconsciously they think you will divorce and they will be homeless), and it drastically lowers your chances of having a good relationship. You need to learn to communicate in a way that doesn’t have toxic fallout. Some couples just get used to it, which is not only a death knell to the partnership but also a problem for your children. If they become used to people treating each other poorly, they will learn that these negative behaviors are simply part of being in relationships. In fact, they may come to expect them.

Being close and exhibiting closeness sends the opposite message to both you and your kids. That’s one reason why it’s important to have dinner together as a family whenever possible. I know this gets harder as the kids get older and have more extracurricular activities, but you have to make this a priority. Studies have shown that families who dine together are closer, and the kids fare better in school and in life. I also like to add family movie nights to this. There is a wonderful thing that happens when everyone is hanging out together. It’s bonding, and the only thing that makes it better is when you are all cuddling up together and just feeling the love. At some point, the kids may not want to cuddle, and that’s okay, just as long as the two of you keep it up. But I have a friend whose college-age, football-playing children still love to cuddle up—and no joke, you can really feel the love in the room, so don’t let it go if you don’t have to.

Just being there isn’t enough. You have to engage with your partner in positive ways and in front of the kids, and every now and then it can help to give each other a big kiss that makes them say, “Oh gross!” If your relationship is a little distant, bring it closer, for them if not for you. By the way, you can gauge your closeness by how you treat your animals. If you give your pets more attention than your partner, you need a tune-up, and get it now before you need major work.