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Tips For Raising Children Who Will Be Good Spouses
Dr. Dale V. Atkins, June 2012

It is important for parents to be conscious of how important it is for them to be a model for their children if they want to raise children who will be good spouses. Treat one another (spouse, kids, in-laws, teachers, neighbors, bus drivers, supermarket checkers, etc.) with kindness, respect, and patience.

Children who are kind are less likely to bully or be violent. They learn from their parents. Doing acts of kindness benefits the giver as well as the receiver, and in general, people feel valued when their spouses are kind, supportive, and appreciative of them.

Below I offer a few tips to help parents be mindful of raising children to be good partners.

Household Chores. - Children want, need, and feel good about having responsibilities. Every member of the family contributes by helping to have the family function well so be sure that everyone contributes! Be sure adults are doing their "fair share" in performing chores that have nothing to do with gender, but everything to do with competence, and that they and not grumbling about their work load. If everyone works together to get the house in order, prepare a meal, sort and wash the clothes, pack for a trip, give yourselves a "treat" with a family outing or a game or something fun. Reinforce the value of helping each other.

Respect. - Think about ways in your attitude, behavior, and tone to convey respect, caring, support, and patience. Listen to each other's ideas, points of view, encourage dialogue and opinions that are different from your own. Model how to have a respectful conversation when talking with someone you disagree with. Watch your language (verbal and body) raised eyebrows, shrugging, dismissive interactions, eliminate insulting, demeaning, sarcastic, harsh words such as "stupid", "idiot", "dummy", and racist or biased comments. When children use these words, stop them. Tell them that these words hurt others. Help them find other terms to express themselves.

Expression of Feelings. - Be aware of how you handle feelings and whether you avoid experiencing and or expressing certain feelings you may find uncomfortable. Let children know that having feelings is healthy and we all have them. Learning healthy ways to express feelings is important (for us and for others). When something is clearly wrong, saying "Oh, everything's fine" is unacceptable. Children's "radar" is usually right on and they know when things are NOT "fine". Be honest. Describe clearly, "I have something on my mind and I feel upset (angry, sad, confused, etc.), I need some time to work or think it out." This will serve as a model and help teach them how to do this for themselves.

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