It's an enduring but unfortunate catchphrase, "You're not my mother." Words uttered by men who resist acknowledging their wives on Mother's Day. This excuse is generally used to avoid responsibility for celebrating their wives. Or to begrudgingly engage in minimal effort laced with complaints. It's seen as an unwanted and unnecessary obligation.
But is it?
The way spouses treat one another impacts the relationship choices their children will make. Kids absorb the relationship modeled between mother and father. Unfortunately, a simple refusal by a husband to celebrate the mother of his children will likely be handed down to the next generation.
According to this article from Psychology Today, 5 Reasons Your Marriage May be Harming Your Child.
A recent study by Michal Einav published in The Journal of Psychology: Interdisciplinary and Applied, the quality of your marriage significantly impacts expectations your children have about their own future intimate relationships. Children learn how to have close relationships by observing and interacting with their parents or caregivers.
Husbands believe they are arguing with their wives. They're attempting to prove a point. They get caught up in a spousal dynamic. They should be thinking about parenting. A lot is written on the topic of parenting. Mothers and fathers dedicate themselves to many of these principles.
When the obvious one is staring them in the face. If men and women want their children to have loving, respectful, caring relationships, they need to treat their spouses well.
The following is a quote from that same Psychology Today article.
Key research in the field of family dynamics suggests children learn to engage in social interactions with others based on their perceptions about the quality of their parents’ relationship.
It goes on to say:
For example, a study by Dixon, Gordon, Frousakis, and Schumm published in Family Relations, found that adults who rely on their partners for a sense of self-worth usually have high levels of anxiety in their relationships. Slight frustrations between these partners are noticeable by children and often result in family conflict. The same study found similar results in relationships where one partner rejected demands for intimacy from the other. Children can sense resentment and observe the unavoidable conflict that occurs when one spouse doesn’t meet the expectations of the other.
When a husband says, You're not my mother."
Technically, this is correct.
But to men who speak this phrase, there's an additional truth. Your wife is the mother of your children. She's a woman who spent nearly a year caring for two people, avoiding certain foods, and drinks, and barely sleeping. She's delivered the babies who make your world. The people you value most in life.
And unless you're the parent of an only child, she's done this repeatedly.
She is the woman your children call, "Mother."
There's nothing more sacred than that. Except for the relationship a man has with his own mother. If it's a good relationship, a man should want nothing more than to celebrate it with the next generation of his family.
If that's not enough, children derive joy from witnessing love. You shouldn't miss an opportunity to express it. Ever. Especially when it involves your children.
Marriage is difficult and as the article references below we can shift our attention.
When there is discord in a spousal relationship, one natural solution is to avoid the elephant in the room by focusing attention on your child.
But your child is watching you.