I know I will get blasted for this one. But, whatever, bring on the hate. This is reality, this is love and this is modern parenthood. We both put our children first and care about them more than anything in the world. What’s the most amazing of all is how much we have all fallen in love with each other.
One of our hugs leads to a kiss.
When we open our eyes all three are staring up at us. Their heads tilted upwards and smiles spread across their faces. All of them, beaming the purest form of happiness. Collectively they look like a little cheering section for love.
I can’t grab a camera this moment will be over in a second. I just have to take it all in, studying their faces, studying his, little hands cover little mouths as they stifle giggles, “Look, they are kissing! Look!!! Heee heee.”
I’m not even surprised that we are all here because it feels like it’s been waiting for us all along.
It’s the first time they’ve actually seen us kissing. They are also seeing, for the first time, their parents absolutely and totally in love, and the beginning of a happy and fulfilling relationship.We smile and then stop and split up our hug to get back to our hide and seek game.
Later in the car, he says, “Do you know how amazing it is that our kids will get to see a relationship from the start?”
“You’re right! They’ll get to see everything.”
“Yep, the good, the bad and the awesome,” he says smiling.
“They’ll be awesome at dating.” I rest my head back in the seat, closing my eyes for a minute to imagine all three of them as adults with very realistic views about relationships. Or hoping, I suppose. But they’re off to a good start.
What makes a healthy and positive relationship for your children to witness:
- Love, yes, but that’s just the start.
- Healthy communication. Let them hear you work through dilemmas with your partner. Little dilemmas, like where to put the new fish tank the nanny bought. Let them hear you laughing and enjoying each other. Let them see you expressing physical expression – but only if they are comfortable with that, which leads to #3
- Allow and ask the children to share their opinion. A great way to do this if they are young (like ours – who are 5, 5 and 7) – is asking them to draw pictures of what makes them sad, happy, angry or mad. Also, you can ask them to write their feelings in a journal. The point is to let them express themselves freely without judgement or sadness expressed from you. You are the parent, it is your job to comfort, soothe, listen and embrace whatever it is they need to say. How you respond to their feelings is up to you – but, I would do whatever it would take to make sure you are in fact, responding. Even if that means ending the relationship. This isn’t about you, it’s about them. First and foremost, and always. Also, if your boyfriend reacts negatively to any expression of feelings from your child that may be negative toward him or about an ex of yours, get rid of him.
- No shouting, screaming, yelling or fighting between parents or partners. This should go without saying, but I’m saying it anyway – to make sure you know that’s not okay (even if your parents did it).
- No abuse of any kind. None. Never, ever, ever, no matter what. Another one that should go without saying, but unfortunately some of us are involved in relationships that include: physical abuse, drug abuse, or emotional abuse. When you are dating someone – find out if they have any drug, physical or emotional abuse issues in their past before you become involved. Ask them “So, are you open to therapy?” I hear so many times about men who would never go to a therapist if their life depended on it. Drop them like flies, especially if they have issues. And do it before you become attached. When you are in an abusive relationship, your child will be a victim as well.
- Don’t hop back and forth between boyfriends. An ex is an ex is an ex. Leave him in ex-land. I learned this the hard way last year with John. By rekindling our relationship last year, it confused Benjamin. Now he still thinks that the Mr. will be leaving one day. It’s heartbreaking that my son has baggage due to my baggage, that I wasn’t strong enough to just let that relationship end when it had.
- Never forget that the children are in the relationship, too. A relationship between adults shouldn’t feel forced and a relationship between children and a potential step parent shouldn’t feel forced either. For all five of us, everything is as natural as can be. We also have very similar parenting styles, which makes it a lot easier. And again, we are incredibly respectful and conscious of the children and their emotions about it all.
- Watch the kids. Are they acting out in school? Are they just saying they are happy, or are they really happy? A child just wants you to be happy and could put on a happy face while inside they are not. Look to behavior for hints of their true emotions.
Like you, your children will know when you find the right one–when you find the best kind of love. They’ll know it’s worth every minute of everything that came before, but protecting them from as much of that pain as possible is a must.
Do you have any opinions about the above? I know some of you will and I encourage you to share them.