Want Happy Kids? Tune In To Your Relationship

What’s the secret to happy kids? The simple answer is — it’s complicated. One thing we know for sure, though, is that their parents’ relationship is important. Happy kids have happy parents, and that means you need to stop fussing over your kids and pay a little more attention to your relationship. How you connect with your partner and the act of modeling a healthy relationship is what’s most important to your entire family’s well-being.

The Happiness Gap

In extensive studies of parental happiness, results vary, but what researchers have found can be generalized as follows: being a parent generally makes people happier, except in the United States. That’s because, to a significant extent, parental happiness is actually determined by government policies. Parents are happiest when they live in a country that supports parents, and unhappiest when they don’t have that support. That’s not so surprising, when it comes down to it.

Of course, you can’t just uproot yourself if you live in the United States because moving to another country might make you happier. This is a case where you need to make your own happiness, and that starts with turning inward towards your own relationship.

The Kid-Centric Shift

Part of what parents today need to recognize, in order to improve their relationship with each other, is that the typical marriage or partnership has undergone a significant shift over the last several decades. Adults today were likely raised by parents who prioritized adult relationships, but couples today tend to dote on their children to the extent that families have become child-centric. What this overlooks is that kids need love and attention, but if you and your partner are modeling closeness, conflict management, and collaboration, that’s going to set them up for long-term interpersonal success.

It’s In The Actions

So if how you function as a couple is so important to your children’s happiness, how do you demonstrate that? It starts with remembering that you’re more than parents. You chose to be together, and you need to keep choosing that, and this is where Emi can support you. Our daily relationship reminder program seeks to encourage those simple actions that make a relationship stronger, such as:

  • Setting a weekly relationship intention
  • Expressing gratitude
  • Taking time to show physical intimacy through a hug or kiss
  • Performing a daily check-in with each other

The bottom line is that your relationship with your partner should come ahead of your relationship with your child — despite everything our culture tells us. As David Code, author of To Raise Happy Kids, Put Your Marriage First, explains, it’s not providing our children with constant attention that will help them grow up to be happy and well-rounded. In fact, it’s actually damaging to both your relationship and your child. By doing so, we push our children to fulfill our emotional needs and drift apart from our partners. It also creates anxious parents and demanding children. This is how we wound up with our current culture of helicopter parenting, and focusing on our adult relationships and personal fulfillment is the only way out.

It’s hard to undo the cultural messaging that says our children come ahead of our relationships, but it is possible and you can start today. Tune into your partner and show your children just what a happy, healthy relationship looks like. That’s how you really set them up to be happy and successful.