Saturday, 24 September 2011
Possibly the most influential relationship our children observe is the one between their parents. This is where they are most likely to learn how respect is expressed in daily living. No mater what we tell our children about how to behave, the way we act towards each other is the message they will actually receive.
It's been a day full of bickering between the 6 &7 year old kids, Andrew and Emily. Mom finally loses her patience and yells, "Stop fighting, I can't stand it anymore!"
Both kids look up at her in surprise and then Andrew replies, "But you and Daddy argue all the time. This isn't any different."
Mom is speechless. She's never thought of it this way before, but she knows Andrew is right.
Our children notice the way we speak to each other: our tone of voice, our attitudes, our unexpressed emotions. It's not simply a matter of whether we fight or argue. It's the way we resolve disagreements, how we communicate each other in clearing up minor misunderstandings, and how well we respond to each other's needs.
Even the smallest gestures of attractiveness and concern that passes between Mom and Dad are noticed by our children, becoming a mental model for how to treat loved ones. When they hear the expressions of polite interaction - "please", "thank you", and "you're welcome", - used in a habitual and natural way, and when thoughtful question such as "Can I get you something?" and "Can I help you with that?" are in the background of their everyday lives, they see the way people can help each other through life in both big moments and small.