Sex & Relationships

Who you are in love is who you are in parenthood

If you're kind and empathetic toward your partner, chances are you'll exhibit the same good qualities in your dealings with your kids.

Family of four

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Mom and Dad and two little boys settle into a restaurant booth for lunch. She berates Dad about what happened at his parents’ house the night before. Her words are sharp. He looks defeated. Volume increases. Insults follow. Mostly hers, directed against him.

One of the little boys interrupts to ask if he can have ice cream.

“No!” Mother barks. “You don’t need any more junk. Quit slouching.”

Are we surprised? Disheartened maybe. But not surprised.

When it comes to how humans perform, both as partners and parents, consistency seems the foundation on which conduct is built. The mother’s behaviour toward her child, which mirrors her actions as a spouse, only confirms our developing view of her as less than nurturing.

Adding to this are the results of a recent U.K. study, which seem to reinforce what most of us already suspect.

“Good partner, good parent,” succinctly observes Science Daily, in an article outlining the highlights from a survey of 125 couples with young children conducted by the University of East Anglia.

Partners who behaved in a caring and attentive way to each other tended to transfer the same care-taking sensitivity to their relationship with their children, according to researchers.

In other words, if you’re kind and empathetic toward your partner, chances are you’ll exhibit the same good qualities in your dealings with your kids. If you’re mean to your mate, there’s a high probability you’ll be mean or indifferent to your children.

Researchers are quick to acknowledge that single parents can have wonderful relationships with their children — having a partner isn’t necessary to engendering good parenting skills.

Another interesting finding is it doesn’t seem to matter how well you treat your partner — he or she will strike an independent course when it comes to parenting.

Which is why the poor guy in the restaurant getting beaten up by his wife went ahead and bought the boys ice cream anyway.

Do you think the way you treat your partner reflects how you treat your children?