Your kids are play-doh. Besides the fact that both have a distinctive smell and give you the urge to squeeze them from time-to-time, they are also both moldable. They start with no shape and, with your molding, become something. We try to instill good behavior and life tips in them with our daily actions: kisses before bedtime, putting on a seat belt, holding the door for others and so on.
But what about the way you treat your spouse? Is that something you would like them to mimic later in life? Kids are observant little creatures, and although you may think you are concealing it, they are taking it in. Here is a list of things that you and your spouse may want to avoid in front of the kids.
Talking about money. It should be no burden of your children to know about your financial situation, good or bad. They are too young to fully understand and are fairly helpless in the situation. They do not need to know what bills did/did not get paid or how much is in your account. Unless it is about them saving money for themselves or earning an allowance, this is a topic best left to the adults!
Fighting. Although the kids can squabble the entire time on a 4 hour road trip, limit the arguments between yourselves! How can you rightfully lecture about getting along when you just had a 15 minute screaming match? While it may be good for your children to know that their parents do not agree on everything, remember to show them how to disagree appropriately. Practice what you preach and walk away to cool off.
Talking about others. Again, you do not want your little one to talk badly about classmates, so why do you get to do the same? So the coach made a bad call at the game… keep your thoughts to yourself until you and your spouse are alone. In addition to instilling negativity towards role models, there is also the chance that your child will repeat (word for word) what you say if you talk about other people in front of them!
Complaining about work. Sometimes it soothes the soul to compain about the awful things that happened at work, but save it for when the kids aren’t around. In their eyes you are a hard-working parent who provides. They understand that your job(s) is what gives them the home they live in, food they eat and fun experiences they get to have. There is no need to sugar coat the fact that work can be tough, but there’s no reason to discourage them from having a strong work ethic, either!
Arguing over chores. At the end of the day, after a full day of work and running here and there, the last thing you want to do is unload the dishwasher! Arguing about it will not only show your kids that griping about chores is acceptable, but it may also mean the chore does not get done. Instead of arguing, try working on the chore together to promote teamwork!
No one is perfect, especially when it comes to parenting! Emotions get the best of us and we say or do things on impulse. No worries, as these can be great teaching moments to admit to your kids that adults do things wrong. Just remember that you are shaping your children into the adults they will be.