10 Things Kids Learn from Their Parents’ Marriage

In this guest blog, my good friend Doug Fields gives great insight on what our kids can learn from us. Not only does Doug speak and write so well on marriage but I’ve watched him live it out for all of his years with his wife Cathy and their three now adult children.

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 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

Doug is the senior director of HomeWord Center for Youth and Family. Doug speaks to thousands of leaders, teens and parents each year. He teaches youth ministry at APU, and provides leadership and resources as a part of the Youth Specialties Team. He has authored 50 books and blogs at Download Youth Ministry. Doug, Cathy and their three children live in Southern California.

  • About HomeWord

    HomeWord helps families succeed by creating Biblical resources that build strong marriages, confident parents, empowered kids and healthy leaders. Founded by Jim Burns and supported by Doug Fields, HomeWord and Azusa Pacific University have partnered to form The HomeWord Center for Youth and Family. Learn More »

  • About Azusa Pacific University

    APU is a leading Christian college ranked as one of the nation’s best by U.S. News & World Report and The Princeton Review. Located near Los Angeles in Southern California, APU is a Christian university offering associate’s, bachelor’s, master's, doctoral, and degree completion programs, both on campus and online. Learn More »

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