How does your relationship with your spouse influence your child?
The way you treat your spouse ultimately decides how your children are going to treat their spouse when they grow up. One of the most important things we can do as parents is to work together as a team! In order to create a bond of love and understanding amongst the family members, our kids need to know that their Mom and Dad love and respect each other
Why is this important?
Children learn by modelling the adults around them. They tend to imitate what they see rather than do what they are told. They behave in the manner they think will be rewarded as an adult. Additionally, each child subconsciously aspires to be like their parent, so, it is very essential to consider how one behaves around their children
What you need to do:
Show affection towards your spouse
Express how much you love your spouse, be it verbally or by giving them little surprises. Do not be shy to say how much you love your spouse in front of your children. Psychologists say that affection between the parents reassures the child that their parents love each other; this ensues with the child developing a healthy and positive mindset. The home becomes a representation of love and warmth, and when the child grows up, he/she creates the same atmosphere with his/her own family.
Create an understanding
At times, when you disagree with your husband or wife, discuss the issue in a mutually civil manner, and compromise, so that your child understands the importance of different opinions and how to resolve them respectfully. When children see their parents as a harmonious, balanced unit, they learn about the values necessary for successful relationships, such as thoughtfulness and kindness. These are all essential lessons in a child’s learning period.
Be there for your husband or wife when they need you. Help your wife in the house chores or your husband when he needs to relax after a long day at work. Parents are role models of what a healthy marriage looks like; when the husband and wife demonstrate care and respect towards one another within the home, they are creating an environment which promotes empathy, cooperation, and generosity. Our beloved Prophet ﷺ was considerate and kind towards his wives and children. Al-Aswad asked A’ishah about what the Prophet used to do at home, she replied: “He used to serve his household but when it was time for the prayer, he would get up for prayer.” (Al-Bukhari)
Talk nicely and in a kind tone when you address your spouse. The Prophet ﷺ was never harsh or impolite to his wives. A father teaches his child how to respect women by treating his own wife in a courteous manner. Even in your spouse’s absence, respect their rules and beliefs and avoid joking about them nonchalantly. Allah Almighty commands that you live with them (wives) in kindness, for if you dislike them, perhaps you dislike a thing in which Allah has set much good for you therein. (Qur’an 4:19)
Stand up for them
Cover the mistakes and faults of your spouse, for Allah Almighty has made you garments for each other. (Qur’an 2:187)
Never lower the status of your spouse in front of your child or anyone by talking about their mistakes. If the parents excessively mention each other’s faults in front of their children, it would prevent them from looking up to their parents as role models.
Appreciate the little things your spouse does for you and the family in front of your children. Speak well about your spouse regularly. Let your kids hear you say how grateful you are to be married to your spouse and how much your spouse loves you and the children. Allah Almighty mentions in the Holy Qur’an:
“If you are grateful, I will surely increase you [in favour]…” (Qur’an 14:7)
Establish the foundations of Islam together
Even if your children are too young to pray, let them see you pray with your spouse. Remind your spouse of good deeds such as visiting a sick or giving charity, this would allow your children to get attuned to an Islamic foundation from the very beginning, and would also give them firsthand knowledge of how family members can assist each other in fulfilling these obligations.
What you need to avoid:
Do not argue with your spouse in front of your children. Never let your kids hear you speak critically of your spouse. If you have a disagreement with your husband/wife, respond in a respectful manner or discuss it privately. When children repeatedly witness their parents conflicting or using hostile strategies on one another, they become more susceptible to violence in later years. Most children raised in environments of destructive conflicts have problems forming healthy, balanced relationships with their peers.
Distancing your spouse
Children can tell if the parents are avoiding each other. The lack of love between the parents steals the warmth that the child looks for in his/her home. Even if the parents shower the child with unconditional love but keep a distance from each other, the child will perceive his/her home to be devoid of unity, which may ensue in the child developing trust issues in the later years of his/her life. The child can also take on a negative view on marriages as being devoid of love, which as a result may indulge him into relationships outside of marriage, later on in his/her life.
Disrespecting your spouse
Even if it is a minor behaviour such as eye-rolling, remember that children are very keen in observing minute details. Do not brush off the rules that your spouse has set, for example, if your kids come and ask you if they can do something that they know your spouse doesn’t approve of, know that you have a choice. You can support your spouse and say, “No, Dad and I have agreed to keep the same rules” or the other choice would be to say, “Well, I guess you can, but don’t let Dad know!” However, when you do the latter, you are undermining your own authority. You are teaching your kids that rules only need to be obeyed when you agree with them. In other words, you are telling them that you don’t respect your spouse and their decisions and neither should your children respect them. Consequently, this would also teach your children to follow your teachings only when you are around.
Most of the times, when we are on important phone calls, we neglect our spouse even if they are in dire help. Failing to give time to your spouse when your friends or relatives come over tells the children that outsiders may become more valuable than your own family members.
As parents, know that your children are affected by your attitudes, words, and actions, especially the ones you exchange with each other. Through the world you have created in your homes, your children are learning about how relationships function, the role of care when interacting with others, and most importantly, the Islamically ideal way to behave with one’s spouse, which sooner or later will be acted out by your child. In short, caring for your spouse is beneficial for both of you, as a parent, and for your child, because a child’s abode is in his/her parents’ shadow.
Written by: Areeba Khan
Edited by: The Editorial Team