Our children receive so much of their self-esteem and value directly from us as parents and especially from the strength of our
relationship together. The foundation we lay for our children through our relationship as parents is priceless. The power that is within these relationships is often under valued. Children receive so much security within themselves when the ones they love and trust in the world show love and respect towards each other. Our conversations, the content, the attitude and intent behind them, either speak life or death into our partner and also into the little hearts and spirits that are listening to and watching us at all times. Remember, children are complete sponges, they are moulded and created not only physically by us but also emotionally, intellectually and spiritually. In their formative years (and beyond) our influence is great. As parents, we need to be creating environments that will produce strong, confident children. Additionally, we need to believe in them but we also need to believe in our spouse/partner. This is an incredibly necessary ingredient for children of all ages to feel confident, secure and happy.
When our children observe us building each other up, championing each other and genuinely loving and supporting each other, they feel loved themselves. They feel confident and secure. They also learn they can trust your love for them because they learn by observing how you can love each other no matter what. In and through this, they develop the knowledge that you will be able to love them no matter what.
We have all seen and heard of families where the parents argue, often. They devalue each other and treat each other with disrespect. Unfortunately, as a result, we then see the children act out with negative behaviour. Children need to have no doubt that Mum and Dad value and respect each other. By this, I don’t mean they need to have parents who never disagree with each other. The fact that we have two adults sharing life together means there will be disagreements at times; it is only natural and very healthy. The important thing is not whether we disagree but how we approach and handle our disagreements.
- Do we disagree constructively or with anger, impatience and destructively?
Disagreements between Mum and Dad handled well can be a huge part of building a child’s confidence. This happens because they learn first-hand how to manage conflict – well. It’s not whether we have conflict or not, rather, it’s more about how we handle conflict or disagreements. It’s in the handling that we either build confidence or shatter confidence within our children.
- Are we teaching our children to yell and scream when things don’t go our way?
- Are we teaching them to nag, to sulk or to storm off and not talk things through when conflict arises?
- What are our children learning from us when they observe us as parents in the middle of a conflict?
Hopefully, they are seeing us listening to each other whilst respecting perhaps a different point of view and through this we still value each other as we talk things out and find common ground and resolution. They also need to hear and see us deliberately adding value to each other at other times. We need to speak highly of each other regularly and enjoy each other’s company. If possible, it’s great to have weekends away together without the children from time to time. Tell the children how excited you are just to spend time together and get them to help plan what you can do while you are away. When you get home, spend time telling them about what you got up to and how much you enjoyed it. Go on date nights, have the children minded now and then. Your children want to know you enjoy each other, they will feel confident and secure in an environment where everyone is valued. They will learn it is healthy and normal for people to have conflict, at times and yet still have strong, loving relationships that will go the test of time.
Show them by example what forgiveness is, how powerful it is and what it looks like. Let them see, hear and know how important forgiveness is to live a fulfilled life. Let’s face it if we learn the art of forgiveness we have discovered an enormous component to life and who better to teach them this than us first hand as parents.
I always remember my mother and father teaching me by word and example “never let the sun go down on your anger.” I witnessed my parents argue as they viewed things differently however I always witnessed them working through that disagreement to a place of respect, love and common ground before they went to bed at night. They always found a resolution before their heads hit the pillow and openly told us that they always would. This knowing gave my siblings and I a strong sense of security as a family and as individuals. It was very empowering to us all.
This has been something I have been able to put into place with Rob over the years. In fact, it is my natural instinct, and so it has become something we have naturally done over our 43 years of marriage and it works a treat. Sometimes I must admit, one of us may not really feel like forgiving but it is so ingrained in us we do it by choice and by the time you wake in the morning everything looks much better. I heard someone say once, one of the best ways to make your child feel loved and secure is to love, respect and value their other parent. If you are in the position where your child doesn’t live with both parents, all is not lost, however still make sure you don’t speak derogatory about their other parent. We need to be honest about the situation, however, speaking badly towards the child’s parent does not make the child love you more or them less. Instead, it makes the child confused and sad.
Rob’s father didn’t live in the family home in his teenage years. Because of this, he would be the first to say that the child works out what’s right and wrong and which parent can be trusted as they grow up without any negative talk from someone else including you. I have seen first hand a parent who has taught her children to forgive and care about their Dad even though he struggled to be a father to his children and I admire her greatly. She hasn’t sugar-coated the situation but doesn’t run him down either.
Let’s be parents who create environments where our children can feel safe and secure, learning how to value and respect family members by our example. Let’s create environments that empower our spouses and partners and in turn empower our children setting them up for a life of love, security, purpose and potential. I have a little video I think you will enjoy, have a look and tell me what you think.