It is often easy to forget that as parents, we are often akin to zoo exhibits – our children never cease to observe our actions and listen in on our conversations. They know when we are not walking the talk.
Additionally, while we often persuade, nag and chide our children to be kinder, gentler, more loving and generous to others, it has been found that a most effective and powerful method of modelling good values and teaching healthy ways of managing relationships can be seen in the way we treat our spouse.
Undeniably, parenting brings with it a myriad of challenges and they become exceedingly tough to manage if the marriage is not in a healthy place. Problems are compounded when husband and wife are unable to tackle parenting challenges as a team and the effects of the children witnessing a failing marriage can be detrimental.
Here are some ways to show love to your spouse which will undoubtedly bring about positive outcomes for your children and help them grow up experiencing plenty of love and security at home:
Speak words and act in ways that build each other up
Be quick to affirm your spouse and slow to criticise. Being openly appreciative of your spouse in front of your children by affirming their sacrificial acts of love for you and the family teaches your children more about gratitude towards others. Don’t underestimate the power of being physically affectionate with your spouse too. The kids might cringe and squeal upon witnessing you displaying physical affection to your spouse, but it is undeniable that this is one way to help foster a home environment that helps our children feel more secure, loved and appreciated.
Discuss parenting challenges objectively
Put ego aside to tackle parenting challenges with the children’s best interests in mind and foster a genuine interest in listening to your spouse’s concerns. It is not about fighting to be the one who’s got better parenting ideas but really about looking to see how you can help each other teach the children better. Don’t let the kids divide and conquer. Stand together and show them the stability in your marriage so they know they can’t play one parent against the other. We do our children a great disservice when we let our egos get in the way as we parent them.
Deal with marital conflict without being hurtful
While it might be unsettling for children to witness conflict between parents, a world of good can come out of conflict when it is resolved in front of them. Healthy conflict management where arguments are carried out in a way that seeks to understand the other party’s point of view will show our children how conflict can be managed in a mature manner that is not destructive to relationships. They can pick up invaluable lessons from you on how to manage their own future relationships and marriage when they grow up secure in the knowledge that mummy and daddy are committed to working through issues together and won’t give up on each other or them.
There is therefore much wisdom in getting our relationship with our spouse on a right footing in order to be the best parents we can be for our children.
©2016 Focus on the Family Singapore. All rights reserved.
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