We all want our kids to grow up and find that special someone. We envision their future partners, hoping that they will snag someone just as wonderful as them. If you think this process is up to fate alone, think again. Here are five ways that you can use your own relationship to teach your kids how to spot “Mr./Mrs. Right.”
- Prioritize your relationship. Sure, your kiddo is the apple of your eye but they don’t need to be the center of your universe. I get it…it’s a tough pill to swallow. A lot of parents struggle to put their relationship first but that doesn’t mean that it’s unnecessary. Have “Mommy and Daddy time” that is not permitted to be interrupted. According to the Gottman Institute taking 30-40 minutes every day to talk to your spouse about the events of your life can help sustain a healthy marriage. From that funny meme you saw online, to the crazy traffic you experienced on the way home—it all matters and guess who is watching? Showing your children that you value your partner’s experiences (even the tiny ones) encourages them to grow up and find partners that do the same.
- Fight fair. One of the best ways that you can help your child program his/her relationship GPS is to model healthy ways to disagree. Don’t get into the blame game and instead own your part of the conflict. Taking responsibility not only demonstrates accountability but some studies suggest that doing so also promotes faster conflict resolution. Double bonus!
- Say what you mean and mean what you say. Your kid is listening when you talk to your partner. You might think otherwise considering he/she doesn’t always listen to you when you’re directly talking to him/her (How convenient, huh?) but he/she is most definitely eavesdropping when you’re talking to your partner. This means that talking to your special someone in a caring and honest way is important. If you want your pint-sized human to grow up and find someone that values kindness and truth, model it.
- Express your feelings. Too many times I’ve heard folks say that they didn’t hear their parents express emotions in front of them. Be affectionate with your partner. It’s okay to kiss, hug and say “I love you.” You might elicit the occasional “eww gross” from your kiddo but they will thank you later when they have found a partner that is appropriately affectionate with them!
- Say “I’m sorry.” Not too many of us like to admit when we are wrong but there is value in doing so. Even tiny tots as young as 4 understand what ‘I’m sorry” means. So, if you start a fight with your partner in front of your kids, make sure you finish it in front of your kids. Even if you end up reconciling later, behind closed doors, take the time to apologize again, when those little eyes and ears are nearby.