Have you ever sat back and thought about how your parents’ relationship influences your own? How your parents and their moods or emotions influenced you as a child?
If you grew up in a situation where you observed and absorbed their happiness or unhappiness, you probably grew up as a child accepting their emotions as your own. As I thought about my own past, it clicked to me that the greatest gift we can give our own children is to show them how to be content, and we do this by being content ourselves.
Romantic relationships are complex on their own without the dynamics of children. We move between hating and loving; we move between staying and leaving; we move between growing and stagnating. It is only when we increase the loving, staying, and growing moments towards ourselves and our relationships that we can be fulfilled. If we stay and fake our happiness, if we stay and fake our love, if we stay and fake our growth, we fake our teachings to our children.
When we use our children to stay in relationships that do not fulfill us, we are only teaching them that this is normal and it will be okay for them to be in similar relationships when they grow up. When we are selfish, we teach our children that having selfish people in their lives is acceptable.
When we have shadow sides that we are aware of, like lying, manipulation, or selfishness, and we do nothing about it except maybe admit to these traits, we teach our children that this behavior is acceptable, and those are the types of people they may have in their future, because this will be the norm for them. When we behave in cowardly ways and cannot make decisions best for ourselves, we teach our children that this is the way to live life. When we blame everyone else and everything else, like our past, then we teach our children that it’s okay to live life unhappily. We teach them that being unhappy is acceptable.
No matter what we give them or what we say to them, children learn from our behavior, not only our words.
When we have healthy relationships that’s vital for our wellbeing, we teach our children the importance of having healthy relationships. When we are brave enough to work on those parts of ourselves that we struggle with, we teach our children to accept all of who they are. We teach them bravery. When we make difficult choices that are right for our souls, we teach our children to always follow their true paths. We teach them resilience. When we become who we want to be, we teach our children to be themselves. We teach them authenticity.
All of this is so much easier said than done. We know what is right, we know what we want and because of the hurdles we would have to jump through, because of the pain we would have to absorb, because of the mirror we would have to look into, we dodge the decision. We choose the grass in our yard, even though we know that the grass this time would be greener on the other side. We cover our hatred for ourselves, forgetting that our children only see the truth. They sense our emotions and adapt to share it, and we forget that what should help us overcome these hurdles is that the greatest gift we can give our children is to show them how to love themselves, and we do this by loving ourselves.