7 lessons I want my kids to learn from watching my marriage

Adoption, Family, Grace, Prayer
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Have you ever wondered, “What are my kids learning from watching my marriage?”

The answer to that question is a lot.

A child’s perception of marriage will most likely be what you show them through your own marriage. I can show them a good example or a bad one. I don’t always do the best job.

I was reminded of what they learn by watching my marriage one morning when my two middle kids started arguing. They rarely fight. It was a minor issue of whether they should leave the lights on or off.

No biggie. I thought it’d peter out, but an hour later my daughter asked if she could delete her brother’s number from her phone.

Why?

He’d sent her the same text message 40 times.

It said:

“I was AFRAID you didn’t have the ability to be a total worthless drama queen who has to have the universe tailored exactly as you wish. You are the worst thing to happen to this family since … well … ever. I hate your freaking atoms with every fiber of my being.”

Whaaaa?

“Why on earth would you talk to your little sister like that?” I said. I was shocked, angry, and appalled.

Then I remembered…

I grimaced as I remembered an exchange, I’d had with my husband earlier that morning when (I thought) they were asleep.

My husband had been traveling the five days prior. He’d worked late the three nights since he’d been back. I was resentful and felt I had a right to be grumpy. So I was.

I wasn’t the kind, loving example I should’ve been.

Now my kids were acting exactly as they’d seen (or heard) me behave. Irritable and impatient.

Through my marriage, I’m teaching my kids a lot, including how to extend grace.

I’m showing them how to make life work when you live with someone who thinks and acts differently than you. I’m modeling how we can appreciate differences because men and women were designed to be different.

Like it or not, the way they behave in their marriages will look a lot like the way I behave in mine.

I can tell my kids to say please and thank you, be kind and respect one another. In reality, they’re watching everything I do. They’re listening to every word I say. If I’m not kind and respectful, they won’t be either.

My kids will behave exactly as they see me behave. Not as I tell them to behave. I can use my marriage to teach them valuable life lessons.

7 lessons I want my kids to learn by watching my marriage

I want my kids to learn to:

  • Apologize
  • Respect one another
  • Show gratitude
  • Be encouraging
  • Fight fair
  • Affirm others
  • Forgive quickly

I hadn’t been a model of kindness, patience, and grace. I was convicted of my own behavior, but I made my son apologize anyway.

He turned to his sister, and just as eloquently as he’d insulted her, he apologized:

“I get mad, sad, and angry at you almost every day. But, those are just feelings. Every day I make a conscious decision to love you and nothing you can say or do will change that. I love you from the bottom of my heart. You are my little sister, and I want to care for you and protect you. I would die for you. Will you forgive me?”

She smiled at him, and it was over.

I took a lesson from my son and borrowed a few lines from his apology and used them on my husband when I saw him later that evening.

The next time you wonder what your kids are learning by watching your marriage, looking at their behavior will give you the answer.

What are your kids learning from watching your marriage?


Originally published at The not so excellent wife blog.

Sheila Qualls is the Executive Director of TakeCharge, a nonprofit organization that seeks to restore the two-parent black family and unite Americans towards shared values ​​regardless of skin color or station in life. She is a former national speaker and Marriage and Family columnist at Patheos.com. She and her husband, Kendall, a former gubernatorial candidate in Minnesota, have been married for 36 years and they have five children.

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