10 Things Kids Learn From Their Parents’ Marriage

Not long ago, I was asked if I intentionally taught my kids about marriage. My answer was yes and no.

Yes, there were times when we talked specifically about marriage (either ours or ones that our kids have observed). But for the most part, Cathy and I were wise enough to know that our kids were constantly watching and learning from us. Our actions (both good and bad) always taught them about marriage.

I would be thrilled if my all of my kids experience a similar type of marriage that Cathy and I share. Like everyone else, we don’t have a perfect marriage. But we’re both very proud of what we’ve developed over the years.

Here are 10 things that I know my kids observed from our marriage over the years:

1. Affection: Cathy & I are very affectionate and I like having my kids see me holding their mom’s hand, hugging, kissing, cuddling, etc., as often as I can.

2. Saying, “I’m sorry”: I wanted to be quick to use this phrase and I wanted my kids to hear me say it (and I had to say it a lot more than Cathy).

3. Affirmation: this is my primary love language so it’s easy for me to dish out encouraging words. My kids get a lot of verbal affirmation, but they also hear me directing it toward my wife (which is really easy).

4. Attraction: I think Cathy is hot… and, I make it known around our family. I’ve regularly said, “Isn’t your mom beautiful?”

5. Time: Our kids know that we like to spend time together. When they see us steal time away to sit in the backyard and talk, or go in the hot tub, or go on a date night, or sneak away for the weekend – it’s exactly the message I want to send them.

6. Laughter: We laugh a lot in our house and my wife’s sense of humor cracks me up. I like having my kids see that my wife makes me laugh.

7. Respect: As often as I can, I try to show Cathy simple signs of respect, like opening the door for her, saying “thank you,” and “please.”

8. Faith conversations: We didn’t always pray in front of our kids, but they heard and observed our faith conversations and knew that we’re always talking about Jesus and what it means to be a follower.

9. The value of friends: Our house is well worn from the traffic of friends in and out of our house. We love having people over and the Fields’ house is a regular hangout for some incredible friends.

10. Servanthood: I know my kids have had a better example in Cathy than with me because she’s the ultimate servant. She is always asking, “How can I help? What do you need to make life better?” Serving one another is seen in the daily, little things and there are many opportunities to serve.

Kids are always watching their parent’s marriage and yet too many marriages underestimate the power of modeling! Children are taking daily recordings of what a marriage looks like and those recordings are definitely influencing and shaping their view of marriage. So, live your marriage wisely to make sure the message you are sending your kids is the message you intend to send.

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Doug Fields

Doug Fields is the senior director of HomeWord. He speaks to thousands of leaders, teenagers and parents each year. He’s also the author/co-author of 50+ books including: Parenting in a Screen Saturated Culture; Intentional Parenting; 7 Ways to be Her Hero – the One Your Wife Has Been Waiting For; and To Have and To Hold. In addition to Doug’s speaking and writing, he is also the co-founder of DownloadYouthMinistry.com and the youth pastor at Mariners Church. Doug has been married for more than 35 years to his wonderful wife Cathy, and they live near their 3 married children and 3 grandchildren in Southern California.

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