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There are so many ways we shape who our children become- and many of the ways we do this go on without us even noticing. No matter what we express to or tell our kids- they see everything and actions speak louder than words.

One of the most important ways we shape our children is how we manage our relationships. Regardless of whether you are with your child’s parent or with someone else, they must see a healthy and happy relationship. No relationship is perfect, but kids can see when something isn’t right. Here are 6 ways our relationship shapes our kids.

1. You are teaching them how to show affection.

Children see and soak up everything like a sponge. When they view their parents in relationships with little affection, they grow to believe this is how they should approach love as well. Affectionate and loving parents show their children that affection is okay and necessary.

2. They model their behavior off of yours.

When we are in a relationship, our kids pick up on relationship tendencies. For example, let’s say a child sees their parent in an abusive relationship. Later on, they may also pick an abusive partner or accept an abusive situation. If their parents demand respect from one another and treat each other accordingly, their kids learn to do the same.

3. Healthy relationships provide stability, while toxic relationships can cause anxiety.

When kids see their parents in healthy and stable relationships, they have a sense of security. However, when things are rocky or unsteady, they may feel ungrounded, insecure, or afraid.

4. Your relationships set the stage for your children’s future relationships.

If you want your child to treat their partners with respect, you have to model that. When young boys see their father treating their mother like she is nothing, they may view that as normal. In the future, they may treat their wives this way.

5. You are influencing their attachment style.

There are various attachment styles, from codependent to emotionally distant and healthy attachments. Depending on what kids view from their parent(s) they will develop their attachment style.

6. Children learn communication styles from their parent’s relationships.

Communication is the backbone of all social and romantic relationships. When the gateways of communication are open and productive, children learn productive means of communicating with others, including their future partners. However, if communication is abusive, abrupt, or lacking, children may develop bad communication tendencies themselves.