Yes, you are! I think all children have the same first love — their mom. And we are usually their first Valentine, too.
All of the future Valentine’s Days our children celebrate will echo the love they learned from us. And, the way we show our children love will also affect their future marriage.
So, what are the most important relationship traits to teach our kids? Marriage researcher John Gottman says there are two traits that are more important than any others: kindness and generosity. Gottman has been studying marriages for over 40 years. And by studying how kind and generous a couple is he can predict with 94 percent accuracy if their marriage will make it or not.
Of these two traits, kindness is very challenging for me. I tend to be very direct in my communication and, if I’m not careful, I can come across as unkind. I have had to learn the hard way (by hurting my children) that kindness is…
Kindness is patient.
When we lose our patience, we usually lose our kindness too. Maybe you’re impatient when your kids won’t get out of bed quickly enough on school days. Or impatience can happen when we need to do something, and our kids mess up our plan.
I wrote an entire chapter in The Passionate Mom about patience. “My patience is like my car keys, often lost and then found in the strangest places. It takes a mom of great patience to quietly and steadily persevere through provocation, misfortune, delay, and anger,” I wrote. “And since all of those can be part of a typical mom’s day — we have to work really hard at being patient and kind.”
Kindness is affirming.
When we are kind to our children they hear it in our words. If we use sarcasm, curtness, or scream at them, that’s not affirming. And since patience, like many virtues, is caught more than it is taught, we must be careful what we model for our children or it will be carried into the next generation. I know, it’s not easy to hold our tongue when we’re tired, frustrated, or, yes, impatient, but even firm words can be said with kindness.
Kindness is love.
The “love chapter” read at weddings begins with, “Love is patient, love is kind…” We can’t separate love from kindness. When we are unkind to our children it builds walls between us. It makes them feel insecure in themselves and in their relationships with others. They feel unloved.
If we can teach our children to be kind, they’ll hopefully choose a kind spouse, because they’ll know what kindness looks like and feels like.
Today is Valentine’s Day; it’s a great day to focus on being kind and generous to our children because those qualities are so lacking today, and because we are our child’s first love.
How do you struggle in your day with showing kindness to your child? Share below–it will encourage others on our journey to love our children well. We want to know because we all struggle with kindness, and we want to encourage you.