The Kids… and Your Marriage

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Helicopter parents. They are all over the nation. Tracking their child’s every move, pattern, behavior, and, very often, failure. As some of the beneficiaries of this parenting phenomenon are turning into adults, it is becoming overly apparent that not only does Helicopter Parenting not work, but the parents put their children at a severe disadvantage as they are unable to thrive in the face of inevitable challenge.

Now we have to ask ourselves - why is this happening? What is the whole purpose of Helicopter Parenting? Surely it isn’t coming from a bad place. The intention behind it is to keep our children safe and to make sure they grow into the best versions of themselves. So what’s going wrong?

And this is where we’d like to focus our attention.

The truth is that kids do not need someone on top of them as much as they need someone to model healthy and responsible behavior. That is how kids will grow into the best versions of themselves. Not by being on top of them, but by being around them.

You see, it’s like this: kids are like sponges with gigantic Dr. Dre headphones around their ears. They watch everything you do carefully and mirror your actions constantly. If we take a second to really think about it - this is a scary reality! Suddenly all expectations of your child’s success and growth is now put right back on YOU.

But what a beautiful responsibility. By perfecting ourselves and how we act in our home we create the opportunity to solidify our children’s behaviors.

Let’s take this one step further.

The big questions we all ask ourselves is: what do we want for our children? What kind of lives do want them to lead? What kind of people do we want them to become?

When it comes to their marriage, parents dream of their children having happy marriages. No fighting. No resentment. Truthfully speaking, we don’t want our children to fall into any of the negative behaviors we see across many relationships.

Now here’s the truth: accurately predicting the success of our child’s marriage, career, and overall relationship with the outside world has much less to do with their behavior, and has everything to do with our behavior. And when it comes to marriage, it is all about how we treat our spouses day in and day out.

So, what exactly is that healthy relationship we want to model to our children?

For starters - do mom and dad have a unified approach? Are they on the same team in terms of parenting? Or can the child go back and forth between the two and negotiate to the best bidder? When the parents get in an argument, do they address the issue on their own, handled in the other room and away from the children? Or does it turn into a passive-aggressive war and screaming match that doesn’t end for days?

Stressing this point even further, his or her world gets shaken when Mom and Dad are not on the same front. But when we act correctly, respectfully, and in unity, that sponge with the Dr. Dre headphones watching and mirroring our every behavior will grow into a caring, loving spouse.

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So what can we do?

Here are three quick tips:

  1. Disagreement doesn’t have to mean anger. Always strive to navigate through your disagreements with your spouse in the way you would want your child to navigate through his disagreements with his or her future spouse.

  2. Stay unified, even when you disagree. The most important thing for your child is to see that you are better together.

  3. When a disagreement inevitably comes up, don’t make a show. Wait for the proper time to deal with the issue, away from the children. Your kids don’t need to be in the audience.

These ideas are not just for our children. They are fundamental to a functioning and thriving marriage. Naturally, the way we behave around our children is how our children will eventually behave themselves. So let’s take the step to be more conscious about our behavior. We all want the best for our children. We don’t need to helicopter. We need to raise our own bars. Our children need a picture they can emulate and a roadmap for life that they can travel down. Starting now, let’s take that beautiful responsibility and become sensitive to how we act - for our own sake, for our spouses' sake, and for the sake of our children’s future.

Zachary Horwitz