As your children walk through life, they’ll encounter many role models. Whether it’s at school, extracurriculars, work or home, your children are learning behaviors from what they study around them. Certainly, one of the most significant influences on teens are their family members – particularly parents. With that in mind, it’s important to model healthy relationships to your teen so that they can develop strong relationships themselves. Here are some tips to keep in mind.
It’s no secret that communication is key in a healthy relationship and as a result, it’s an important cornerstone to model for your teen. Ensure they understand that communication isn’t simply talking to your partner, but it’s also listening, truly hearing what your partner has to say, being open and honest, noticing nonverbal signals and focusing on the present moment. Model how your teen can express their feelings in relationships by using “I feel” statements, rather than placing blame on another person. Above all else, show your teen how they can communicate in a respectful way, even when they are angry or frustrated.
Value Your Partner
Showing your teen that you value your partner can go a long way in their future relationships, whether it’s with other family members, friends or significant others. Make an effort to make time for your partner in a way that your teen recognizes. Also be sure to present a united front – you’re a team, after all! It’s helpful for your teen to see you two truly as partners, not rivals. Respect, affection and overarching kindness can also demonstrate how you value one another as your teen looks to you for how to have healthy relationships.
Be Compassionate Towards Others
When life gets busy, compassion can often go out the window, not just in marriages but in all relationships. In other words, we often feel the need to protect and help ourselves before we consider others. Instead, it’s important to demonstrate to your teen how to be compassionate and thoughtful towards others. At home, try to be aware of others’ needs and emotions and encourage your teen to do the same. Outside the home, try to encourage some family activities where you can help others less fortunate than you by volunteering or donating to a cause. Ideally, this will teach your teen to have cultivate a compassionate, giving heart.
Cooperate on Tasks
Another way you can demonstrate that you’re a team with your partner is by cooperating on tasks. Show your teen that even though you might have different thoughts and opinions on how to get things done, at the end of the day you will work together to accomplish them. Working on family projects, taking turns making meals, balancing out parenting responsibilities – all of these are great ways to demonstrate cooperation and to encourage your teen to participate too.
Encourage and Support Each Other
At the end of the day, relationships should be sources of encouragement. This doesn’t mean you won’t challenge each other or disagree, but hopefully this will stem from a place of support. This is something you and your partner can model to your teen not only in how you interact with each other, but how you interact as an entire family unit. Start by celebrating each others’ successes or attending each others’ tournaments and recitals. Be there to cheer each other on, but also to encourage one another when things don’t go as planned. Help your teen know that healthy relationships mean they aren’t alone: they can be there for others just as others are there for them.
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