Children are like sponges. They will absorb everything in their environment. As Mommy detectives we must evaluate every part of their lives and make a conscious decision to give “value” to every clue. As you design your Evidence board and Clue Charts – always include an arm that brings all parental relationship issues to light.
One of the most valuable clues to a child’s behavior – good or bad – is the relationship between their parents. As the divorce rate climbs more children suffer long term problems because of unstable homes. Some people insist that a child can go through a divorce without problems if parents do it right. That’s nonscense.
Children don’t understand and can’t relate to adult relationship issues. They don’t have the tools or experiences to process the information properly. We must always assume that the child is having problems so we can open the door to communication. If we find that they are dealing with the issues properly – then we can back off. I don’t want to get into the complicated issues of divorce – at least not in this post – but we must accept that divorce does cause problems.
Whether or not it is right to divorce (and in some cases it is) isn’t the issue. Divorcing couples simply must take into consideration that problems between Mom and Dad will change the way your child views his world. As their view changes, their behavior may change as well. No matter how careful, no matter how kind or loving – your child will be affected by your divorce.
By the same token, if you stay together you child will be affected by your marriage. How you treat your spouse, how you relate to their problems and to siutations in the home will build your child’s view of relationships. Your child is watching you. If you are kind to your spouse, he will subconsciously learn to be kind to his spouse. If you are argumentative, vindictive, spiteful or a nagging spouse, your child will relate to others in the same way.
Your marriage is a huge part of how you teach your child. It will determine his pre-conceived ideas about outside relationships.
It’s important to include a detailed chart of your marriage as you build your Evidence board. Evaluate your marriage and be sure you are sending the right message about how to treat others. Only a strong healthy marriage or (in the case of single parent homes) a strong healthy relationship with those outside the family – will produce a child ready for healthy relationships.
Before investigating other clues, be sure you are leading by example. Be sure your actions toward your spouse represent a healthy picture of love.
Ron and I have been married 37 years. Our children are quick to say that watching our relationship has taught them a lot about love. I am confident that you too will be able to help your child visualize “love” by how your treat your spouse or those outside your home.