by: Steven Stosny, Ph.D.
Your children learn how men should behave in relationships by watching you. We hear a lot about mothers, but the truth is, fathers have a very important role to play as well. Children are keenly aware of the way you interact with their mother, even if you don’t live with her. Most divorce and domestic violence happens to men and women who grew up without a father modeling healthy relationship behavior.
Here are 10 tips to help you model the way you want your daughter to be treated in her adult relationships, and the way you want your son to treat his significant other.
1. Value their mother: Children value themselves and others more when they feel that their mother and father value one another.
2. Perspective-taking (seeing things through someone else’s eyes): Show your children the importance of respecting the perspectives of people they love, even when they disagree with them.
3. Cooperation: Show how to participate willingly in work, problem-solving, or task-accomplishment.
4. Negotiation: Show your children how to work out solutions to problems that respect one another’s perspectives.
5. Resourcefulness: Never stop trying to make things better.
6. Motivation to improve: Approach disagreements with the attitude of making them better, not worse.
7. Compassion: This gut-level reaction to your wife’s pain, discomfort, or anxiety includes sympathy, protectiveness, and willingness to help but not control. It recognizes that your wife is different from you, with her own temperament, set of experiences, beliefs, values, and preferences.
8. Good will: Learning a positive attitude toward the people they love will greatly improve your children’s chances of having good relationships. Think good thoughts about your wife, and always give her the benefit of a doubt.
9. Affection: Showing affection toward their mother makes children feel more secure.
10. Relationship investment: Successful relationships require that people care about and occasionally do nice things for one another.