When you bring your sweetheart a treat on Valentine's Day ...
... you can be sure the kids are paying attention BIG time. No matter how old they are, they do notice and their reactions will vary ...
Tots will climb up your legs to get to the candy while older children may giggle or roll their eyes with drama. One way or the other, they have noticed the fact you did something special for your spouse, and for that, you deserve points!
Even if they don't seem to be paying attention, news tends to get around. "Daddy brought Mommy some flowers and now they're kissin' in the kitchen!"
So how does love between parents really affect children?
Children feel more secure when they know their parents get along and love one another. They go to bed at night confident that both parents will still be there when they wake up. They feel safe knowing their parents are committed to one another. Conflict between parents, on the other hand, is a frightening experience that may send kids scattering. Their world suddenly becomes scary and unstable. Will their parents be together (or not) the next day?
Children feel more content if their world is secure. This affects their ability to do just about anything with less stress -- eat, play, pretend and assist around the house. There also seems to be less need to act out or clamor for attention when kids feel secure. When they don't, they will often act out in order to get attention. If that fails, they may try riskier behaviors, testing their parent's commitment to love and rescue them.
Children feel more loving when they see love demonstrated. When hugs and pats and kind words are exchanged between parents, kids feel the vibes between Mom and Dad. They see the tender looks and hear the sentiments expressed. On the other hand, in a home where one never demonstrates love for the other parent, children lack the example they need. Later, they may have trouble expressing love in their own marriages.
What a wonderful thing for children to witness the love-in-action that binds their parents together! We tend to think tots are too young to understand the basics of marital love and commitment, but they aren't. Their built-in emotional radar is busy registering the good, the bad and the ugly. How much better if they see love and kindness modeled before them. When that occurs, their hearts and minds store up pleasant images, good feelings and happy memories.
Back to the flowers, cards and candy ...
Whatever it is you receive on this special day, express your thanks and share with the children. Display flowers in a prominent place and pass the chocolates. Reaffirm your love for the kids and your spouse. When you do that, you're giving your child a gift far sweeter than candy -- you're giving them security. As a result, they'll one day know how to express love to the person they marry.
Pass the chocolates, please, and Happy Valentine's Day!