When listening to my class of small children play “house” at recess, I was struck with the wide variety of how they treated each other. Some of the boys were so kind and thoughtful of the girls, and some were just rude. Some of the girls let the boys make the decisions, and some just told the boys exactly what they thought of the ideas. Children come up with the craziest things to say all on their own, but it could be that they are learning how to treat their future spouse by what they are observing at home.
It has been said that girls often marry men like their dads, and boys often marry women like their mom. That may be true to an extent, but perhaps the greater truth is that men treat their wives the way their mother was treated, and ladies treat their husband the way their father was treated. Dads, your sons learn how to treat a lady from you! Are your words and actions thoughtful and preferential, or are they selfish and demanding? Moms, your daughters learn how to treat their husband from you! Do you respond to your husband in love and submission, or do you assert your opinion and desires over his?
Early training can help instill many of the qualities we look for in a spouse. How you allow your children to treat each other is often training for how they will treat their spouse. I know brothers and sisters do not always agree or get along! Our job as parents is to help them learn to work through the disagreement and respond correctly to each other; this will help them learn to handle disagreements when they are married.
This is by no means a study on teaching manners and kindness to children, but hopefully it will help someone think about training their children to treat their spouse correctly. Children catch more from your actions than your words. “Your walk talks, and your talk talks; but your walk talks louder than your talk talks.”