General Parenting Issues — 28 December 2005
Good parents need to model a good relationship

Good parents are very clear about their roles and responsibilities for their children’s welfare. They attend to their youngsters’ every need with love and wisdom. One area that most adults do not necessarily associate with good parenting is the need to model a healthy couple relationship.

Ironically, divorcing parents are the ones who often lament about failing their children by the absence of a good couple relationship model. Research supports the idea that children of divorce are at a greater risk of having difficulties with love relationships and being divorced themselves.

Children who witness a loving, caring and connected flow between their parents, and who learn effective problem solving techniques and decent relating, are given a gift for life, which they can duplicate in adulthood.

Most parents are so overwhelmed by their life’s demands, that they may relegate their intimacy to a last place. Perhaps alerting parents to see their relationship as an additional crucial parenting role may motivate them to give it a higher priority.

Burdened parents, who focus much of their attention on their children, may be teaching their youngsters that adult life is so hard that it calls for the abandonment of the parents’ needs. This inadvertent lesson is discouraging to children. Some see their parents’ plight and feel guilty for their role in exhausting their parents. Others learn to view adult life and parenting as drudgery they prefer to avoid. These youngsters may voice their early decision to not partner for life and or not have children. Though those early thoughts often change later, just the mere choice, clues the adults that the life they model their children dread emulating.

Children are not very concerned with their parents’ level of personal happiness, but rather with the adults’ depth of unhappiness. A grumpy, irritable, non-cooperative, argumentative, silent, withdrawn, negative and unhappy parent, clouds the family’s atmosphere to the deep dissatisfaction of the children. When parents fight, speak ill about each other, act disrespectfully to one another, do not parent as a team, or are distant from each other, children feel sad, stressed, unhappy and even depressed. Youngsters fear that their parents will part and they worry about the repercussions to their own lives.

The self-esteem of children in happy unions is more likely to be higher than in unhappy ones. Since children see themselves as part mom and part dad, any negativity about either one may damage the youngster’s self-regard. This self-view may take years to repair.

Some children adopt a parenting role with their parents attempting to get the adults to act their age. They may actually request that one parent or both be nicer, that both stop arguing, that they cease calling each other names and act more maturely. Others may get themselves in trouble to distract the parents from fighting and unify them by focusing on their children’s problems.

The discomfort some children feel about their parents’ conduct sometimes affects their ability to comfortably socialize with their peers. Youngsters may avoid inviting their friends to their home in fear of being embarrassed by their parents’ behavior or attitude toward each other. This restricts their freedom to also visit their peers due to their inability to reciprocate. These children face isolation and loneliness and restricted social contact due to shame about their family atmosphere.

Children whose parents are well adjusted and loving of each other, have a better self- image, social connection, higher academic achievements, and are better adjusted and happier in their lives. They also are more likely to have good partnership with their mates as they mature.

Parents, please realize,

• Being a good parent also includes being a good loving partner.
• Neglecting your relationship because your devotion to your children and life is so demanding – is an error.
• Being a good mate does not require much time or even excessive energy. It entails a loving, kind and cooperative attitude and acts toward your partner.
• Being respectful, supportive, helpful and verbally affirming of each other in front of the children helps them feel secure and learn the basics of a healthy union.
• Being physically affectionate and admiring of your partner sets a great example of the flow of love and attention. Maintaining rituals of hugs and kisses at parting and reuniting accentuates your joy with each other and affirms your bond.
• Modeling mature love is one of the gifts you can give to your children that will enrich them for life.

Related Articles

About Author

Offra Gerstein, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in clinical practice in Santa Cruz, California for over 25 years, and specializes in relationship issues for couples and individuals for improved quality of life.

Her work includes: mate selection, marriage, long term relationships, gay and lesbian couples, work relationships, parenting issues, family interactions, friendships, and conflict resolutions.

Offra has lectured extensively to various groups, conducted support groups for several organizations, and has been writing a weekly column “Relationship Matters” for the Santa Cruz Sentinel since 2001.

(0) Readers Comments

Comments are closed.