The Importance Of Teaching Young Kids About Healthy Relationships
When raising our children, it’s all too tempting to think of them in a vacuum. They are, after all, the center of your universe and it’s hard to envisage a world where they’re not at your side/ However, we can’t escape the fact that before we know it, they’ll be out in the real world paying bills, getting stuck in traffic, doing their laundry (hopefully) and, yes, getting into relationships. Relationships may not seem like a priority subject to address with young kids. You have so much on your plate, logistically that it seems appropriate to deal with issues as and when they arise. Nonetheless, there’s never a bad time to start teaching kids about healthy relationships. Even young kids understand relationships on a surface level. You’ll see them holding hands with other kids on the playground and playing house. But while this dramatic play shows a surface level understanding of what a relationship is, it’s up to us as parents to explain the more meaningful aspects of what a relationship is and should be…
It starts with you
Never forget that their children will base their expectations for their future relationships on you and the relationship you have with your co-parent or significant other. Thus, it’s important not only to talk the talk but to walk the walk, too. Take every opportunity you can to model positive relationships with your partner. Be forthcoming in your affections as well as keeping your head in times of conflict. This will help them to find healthy ways forms of conflict resolution in their adult life.
Keep their expectations realistic
While no parent relishes the prospect of their son or daughter having to find a divorce attorney, it’s important that kids grow up with a realistic understanding of what relationships can be, what they should be, and that not every relationship is for life. While a separation is a heartbreak that we’d rather we didn’t see them go through, it’s infinitely preferable to watching them spend years or even decades settling for someone you (and they) know that they aren’t truly happy with. Not everyone they encounter with will be “the one” and by keeping their expectations realistic and teaching them that every relationship has a shelf life, you’ll reduce the risk of them settling for less than they deserve.
Every meaningful relationship has to be built on a foundation of mutual respect. Many parents show their kids the value of giving respect to their peers, to their authority figures, and of course to their parents. It’s equally important, however, to teach kids to expect respect for themselves. Far too many of us fall into unhealthy relationships because we don’t respect ourselves or don’t know how to identify when we aren’t being treated with the proper respect. It’s really important that you define the parameters of what respect actually means with your kids. Respect is not adoration or adulation, nor is it being showered with gifts. It’s being heard, understood, appreciated and valued. If your kids have self respect and know how to respect others they’ll enter the world of dating and relationships with confidence.
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