As parents, we are here to teach and guide our children as they grow up. We impart wisdom and morals. And we hope our kids will take what they learn from us and apply it in their own lives.
But we also teach by example. In fact, this may be the most powerful form of teaching available to us as parents. Famous child psychiatrist Fritz Redl was known for telling groups of parents that there are three ways to ensure your child develops a good character: “Example, example, example.” As parents, we are role models. Our children look to our actions and behavior first as a guide for their own.
Think about how this applies to your relationship with your spouse. The way that you and your spouse act, interact, and show your love will be your children’s first look at what goes into a marriage and what makes a marriage and family work. By building and maintaining a happy marriage, you can teach your kids essential life lessons they can apply to all facets of their life.
Here are 10 things children can learn from happily married parents.
- Commitment. Marriage is about commitment. You and your spouse took a vow to stay together for better and for worse. By working hard to stay together through the good and bad times, you show your kids that you take your commitments seriously – and so should they.
- Honesty. Kids are observant. They know when you do one thing and tell your spouse another thing. And they may even tattle on you. Be honest in your marriage – tell your spouse the truth. Your kids will learn to be honest as well.
- Responsibility. Today the division of labor varies widely from house to house. But whether you are a full-time home maker, a full-time breadwinner, or somewhere in between, you have obligations towards the maintenance of your home and children. By stepping up to accept and embrace these domestic responsibilities, you teach your children to do the same.
- Patience. Don’t lose your temper. Don’t be quick to judge. Respect your spouse. By showing patience in your marriage, you will teach your children how to be patient in their own lives.
- Forgiveness. When someone hurts your feelings, there are two things you can do. You can punish the other person for their actions, or you can forgive. By acknowledging your hurt feelings and then letting those feelings go, you are showing your kids the power that forgiveness has.
- Humility. Showing humility in your marriage can be tough, but it’s an essential quality to teach your children. You and your spouse should both be able to admit when you’ve made a mistake and take responsibility for your actions. Be humble in your marriage, and your kids will understand the importance of this trait for encouraging togetherness.
- Empathy. Your kids need to know that a good marriage is built on empathy. When your spouse has a problem, take the time to really listen and understand where he or she is coming from, and you’ll set a great example for your kids.
- Dedication. If you’re dedicated to your marriage, you’re in it for the long haul. You’re not just dedicated to your spouse, but you’re also dedicated to everything it takes to make the marriage work – no matter how difficult. Your kids will then be able to model that dedication in their own commitments and relationships.
- Generosity. Teach your kids about generosity by being generous with your spouse. Go out of your way to do something sweet and kind for your spouse. Be affectionate often. Ask your spouse if he or she needs help with something. All of these efforts – large and small – will go a long way in your marriage and with your kids.
- Humor. A family that laughs together stays together. Life can be pretty serious sometimes. So you need to be able to show your children that it’s okay to laugh and be silly. By cracking jokes and acting goofy in your marriage, you are modeling the importance of laughter and playfulness for your kids.
You teach your children so many things as they grow up. Let your marriage be one of the most powerful tools you use in your teaching. A healthy union not only shows them how to be in a committed, loving relationship, but it can also show them how to be people with character and integrity. So parents – get to work!