I can remember growing up and thinking that Mom always had eyes in the back of her head. Mom seemed to know everything. But now as a parent, I’m almost equally as convinced that my kids sometimes have eyes and ears in the back of their heads as well. There’s very little that they’re not observing, listening to, and soaking in from their surroundings, especially at home with mom and dad. That includes the way you treat your spouse.
Consequently, nothing has more power or potential to hurt or help kids than what they see, hear, and experience at home. Kids are like little sponges taking in all the surroundings they are immersed in. They are like little monkeys that see, hear and do what they are exposed to. For these reasons and more, the way we treat one another in family life matters. And this starts primarily the way you treat your spouse.
3 Reasons Why the Way You Treat Your Spouse Matters
1) Your kids are WATCHING what matters to you
The way you treat your spouse shows what is in your heart. If our kids see that the way mom and dad treat each other publicly is different than how they interact privately, they are going to notice. If what we say doesn’t match who we are, our kids suffer.
We are never more authentic with anyone more than those we are closest to. That means that our children see the real us. They know our greatest strengths. They also see our biggest weaknesses. And sometimes that’s okay.
Our kids need to see not only our struggle but especially our growth in the way we treat each other as our love increases. There is an amazing amount of security that comes to a kid from knowing that mom and dad love each other forever, and nothing will ever change that.
2) Your kids are LEARNING what you value
The way you treat your spouse reveals their value to you. We naturally prioritize and praise what we value. Our kids see this.
A dad should regularly praise his wife in front of the family. This could be as simple as complimenting mom on the meal in front of the kids, or making a fun comment about how good looking your kids’ mother is. Kids should also see dad serving mom. (Men, when’s the last time we did those dishes?)
A mother should frequently encourage her husband in front of her children. This might be by creating anticipation for when dad gets home, or looking for small ways to make him feel respected and loved in front of the family.
Kids know how to measure value. They know when they feel valued by their coach or their teacher or their friends because of how they are treated. They also know value in the home when they see it.
Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. Proverbs 31:28
Children know when mom and dad value one another by how they treat one another. Kids love to see parents enjoying one another’s presence, and laughing, working, and even flirting together.
3) Your kids are IMITATING what you do
The way you treat your spouse is what your children will grow up to believe is normal (good or bad). I have a friend who recently told me this: “Never let what you saw, or how you were treated bleed through to your family now. I struggle with this all the time with my temper and sometimes disrespect. There is no excuse, just remorse and heavy praying when I realize my actions.” I say it often because it rings so true: “More than you kids will become what you say, they will become who you are.”
Kids who are exposed to parents who regularly fight, bicker, and disagree should not be surprised when they see their children engaging is such behaviors with others both inside and outside of the family.
They’re simply acting like the ‘little monkeys’ that they are.
But kids who consistently see family life and marriage done right are given a gift… a gift greater than they’ll probably ever know.
“Kids are the great imitators, so give them something great to imitate.” – Anonymous
How could you and your spouse step up your game in front of your kids this week?
This article about the way you treat your spouse originally appeared here, and is used by permission.