Parenting Guru: The Best Gift for My Kids This Valentine's Day

This Valentine's Day, the Best Gift for My Kids Might Just Be a Date with My Spouse

If my circle of girlfriends here in the Midwest are representative at all, Valentine's Day cannot come soon enough.

Now that the holidays are long gone, the "fresh start" of the new year has gone stale, and the grey days of winter have set in, we need something to celebrate, particularly when it comes to marriage. I've started to wonder if our wedding vows shouldn't have included something like "in sickness and in health, during the blah days of winter, and the sunny days of summer."

My circle of girlfriends all seem to be sharing a similar experience of marital tension. For myself, the problems in our communication seem like way too much work to overcome at this point. Perhaps it is just better to find some sort of contentment with the status quo?

The more I have thought about this, however, the more I have realized that the best gift I can give my kids this Valentine's Day is to work on strengthening my marriage. As my kids enter into conflict with me and with each other, I remind them that the best way for us to come to resolution is to be able to talk about things. If we can't talk about things, we cannot find resolution for our conflict. As painful as it can be, I have a responsibility to my children to model good conflict resolution with my partner.

As my kids grow older and begin to think about the kind of long term relationships that they hope to have, I want to give them the gift of modeling not just conflict resolution, but also a healthy, loving relationship. I want my children to look for someone who will build them up and encourage them; someone who is as interested in giving to them as receiving from them. Am I willing to demonstrate that kind of relationship with my own partner? As much as I would like to avoid it, this is the kind of question that must be asked. Unfortunately, this a healthy relationship doesn't come without hard, hard work, but it is worth the effort. Not only will I and my partner be better off in the long run, but our kids will benefit as well.

This Valentine's Day, I'm happy to buy my kids some candy hearts and chocolate, but I also want to gift them with my efforts to work toward a loving and healthy relationship with my partner.

Melanie blogs about life with her four kids at tales from the crib.