The Greatest Gift You Can Give Your Children

Strengthening the Family Begins with Strengthening the Marriage

As parents we’re always protecting our kids and constantly bending over backwards to keep them happy to the point of exhaustion, without having any emotion left for anyone else, including your spouse.  After all, that’s what good parents do, right?  As child, family and marriage therapists, we say, no.  In fact, this is one of the worst things you can do for your children. 

When parents give more and more to their kids, leaving no time for themselves or their spouse, it leads to bitterness, arguments and actions that before children never existed.  While most parents think they hide these actions, children see it in the little gestures, tones and standoffishness behavior between the parents. Children then begin to mimic these behaviors.  They will argue more often with siblings, start calling other children names and even hurt others.  These actions come from a new feeling of insecurity about their parents and themselves.  Eventually, these feelings will show up in additional bad behavior in school and the home including low grades, low motivation and even depression.

In his book, David Code, author of “To Raise Happy Kids, Put Your Marriage First,” states: “Adults who want the best for their children should spend less time trying to be the perfect parent and more time trying to be the perfect spouse.”  This notion goes hand in hand with the belief that a good marriage sets a great example for your children’s future relationships. And that can yield positive effects for the entire family in the long term.

As the theory goes, when parents show signs of affection and respect for each other and limit heated arguments in the presence of their children, they foster feelings of happiness and security while outwardly showing kids what a loving relationship looks like.  The best thing you can do is show affection, lots of it!  Kiss your spouse, hold hands, compliment and thank one another, all in front of your children.

If you or someone you know is going through a rough patch in your marriage, don’t hesitate to get some help from a license marriage and family therapist.  It will be one of the greatest gifts you can give to children.

Renee Mullen