What (I Hope) I'm Teaching My Kids About Love

BlogHer Original Post

Often our extended family will vacation together: my own husband and kids, plus my parents, and sometimes my brother and his family.  But this summer, my parents went somewhere just the two of them.

While they were gone, my brother and I worried about them.  What will they do?  Won't they get bored without their noisy brood of grandchildren to keep things interesting?  I felt so sorry for them. 

The afternoon they came back, we all had lunch together.  The trip was great, they told us.  It was quiet, and they had lots of time for resting and talking and enjoying each other.  And, hopefully in a way that was not too skeptical, I asked my mom, "Really?" 

"Really," she said.  "It was wonderful."  And then she turned to look at me squarely.  "You know," she said.  "in 38 years I've never loved your Dad as much as I do right now." 

And you know what?  I am a grown woman with four kids, a husband, a mortgage, stretch marks, a PTA membership card and a mini-van.  I'm just as grown up as I can be.  But when my mother said that to me, when she looked me in the eyes and told me how much she loved my father, I felt about eight years old again--in a good way.  Happy and safe.

It reminded me what I already knew, what I try to live, some days better than others: one of the best things I can do for my children is to love their dad, and to make sure the kids know it.  My husband and I both make a concerted effort to build each other up verbally in front of our kids:  "I love that your dad is such a hard worker."  "Isn't your mom creative?"  We want to enjoy each other, and laugh together, and be physically affectionate around our children.  We want to lay the groundwork for them to settle for nothing less than this in their own marriages someday.

And I don't mean that we've contrived some false picture for them--there are two sides to that coin.  There are plenty of conversations that stay between my husband and me, but we also make it a point to talk through some (appropriate) things in their presence.  They need to see compromise, and meeting in the middle. 

It isn't always easy.  Marriages--even good ones--are hard work.  Building a family, and walking together in the ins and outs of daily life, can get messy.  But when we give our kids a healthy glimpse into our marriage, it makes us want to be better, and I hope it teaches them a thing or two about what real love is.

Shannon Lowe is a BlogHer contributing editor (Mommy/Family). She also blogs at Rocks In My Dryer and The Parenting Post.


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