At a very young age, children are already picking up on keys in their environment on what relationships “should” look like. They mirror their behavior after their parents and guardians, and inherently recreate those emotions and actions in their own relationships.
Playing with kids and spending quality time with them is essential to let them learn the importance of love, however, creating a healthy understanding of relationships takes more than just that.
To teach healthy relationships, one must practice them in their own homes. If a child hears or sees their parents arguing, yelling, or experiencing abuse, they may come to accept this behavior as normal. It is important to teach our children that healthy relationships are based off of love and respect in all aspects of life – including all of the following:
- Communication – by not reading a partner’s mail, email, or text messages without approval.
- Respect – by speaking respectfully to your partner in all situations. In moments of frustration, finding means to peacefully resolve issues and tensions not allowing it to escalate into something violent.
- Financially – by talking to your partner about finances and not withholding their ability to have access to funds.
- Sexually – by never crossing any boundaries sexually when a partner does not want to engage in those actions.
- Emotionally – by providing emotional support to your partner through all periods of life.
Showing your children what a healthy relationship is by personally practicing it in your own relationships – both romantic and friendship – will cause them to grow up with a sound understanding of what it means to be respectful and engage in a situation where both parties are able to thrive, grow and love through respect.
Teaching your child to be honest and foster strong communication in interpersonal relationships will help them to navigate unhealthy situations. Encouraging your child to talk to you if they ever feel that their rights or respect has been violated in a relationship will help you to be sure as a parent that your child is being treated well. This will also help them to avoid abusive relationships.
If you or someone you know is experiencing relationships that violate the respect factors listed above, be sure to encourage them to search for local resources and services to seek shelter in their area.
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