Parenting is less demanding and more rewarding when partners work well together. But that’s is not always easy to do. Here are some tips on how to parent successfully as a couple.
Tola runs our Family Life Program for Mums and Dads and, in her role, she speaks to many parents who are looking for ways they can work together more successfully. Here are her best tips.
How can parents work together to raise well-adjusted children? And why is it sometimes hard to do?
We have been raised differently, we have come together but we still might have different values.
We also have many daily demands on our time and these can cause stress and conflict between partners.
But parents need to work together — especially when it comes to how to discipline the child, the type of discipline and how to care for the child. Parents also need to be consistent with consequences and make sure the consequences fit the crime.
8 tips on how to parent successfully as a couple
Keep focus on your relationship
To work together well, you need to focus on your relationship and make sure your relationship is on the right track. You must think about the other person — their needs and their wants.
Spend time together. Talk about life in general, your daily life, the things that bother you, the things that are good and the things that are not so good.
Communicate openly and honestly
Express yourself and say exactly what you feel. And also listen for your partner’s opinion.
Work very hard on listening, work very hard on talking, work very hard on having a conversation about what you both want.
If you do have a misunderstanding — talk about it, don’t just let it slide and behave as if it didn’t happen. Because at some point it will bubble up and cause a lot of friction.
Talk about the children every day
Remember to keep each other in the loop. For me, I’m home by 3 o’clock and my partner is home later. But when he comes home I remember to tell him things. I say “this is what happened today with the children and this is what I did”. And then we talk about it.
Discuss parenting roles and expectations
What is your role? What is your partner’s role? What are your roles together? Do your current roles meet your expectations? Parents should have equal roles and work together.
Problem solve together
If your child has a problem, you need to deal with it together. It is a family issue. You need to work together to solve the problem. There has to be collaboration in parenting.
Work together to come up with many ideas on how to deal with it. Pick the one that suits your family the best and trial it. If it is good you keep going and if it doesn’t work, go back to the drawing board and brainstorm again.
Don’t blame. It doesn’t help to say ‘it is your fault the child is behaving that way’ or ‘it’s your fault the baby is that way.’ Be constructive not critical. Look for solutions, don’t focus on the problem. Because if you focus on the problem you’ll never find a solution.
Don’t undermine your partner
Children are very, very intuitive — they know when there is stress between their parents especially when it is to do with them. If your child is right there and you’re telling your partner ‘why did you do that? you shouldn’t have done that’ you are undermining your partner but you are also undermining yourself — because the children can see that you’re not united.
If there is an incident and you’re not happy with the way it was handled, take a step away and when the two of you are by yourself talk about it. Don’t talk about it in front of the child.
You need to let things go and then talk in private.
Discuss issues calmly
There’s no need to shout, no need to scream. If you’re upset, take a step away then come back later and talk about it — just like we tell our kids to do.
Make sure you’re not fighting in front of the kids, you’re not bickering, you’re not being mean to each other, and using horrible words for each other while your kids are there (or even when they’re not there).
If the kids are there, the kids are listening. Kids don’t need that tension. They don’t need it and they don’t deserve it.
If things are so bad that the two of you cannot agree on anything you should consider relationship counselling. Tension affects children in many ways and children often find a way to blame themselves.
Get relationship help and make sure you are open and honest while talking to the counsellor.
Remember to take care of your relationship. Remember that you can only give what you have. If you’re not happy there is no way you can put happiness out there for other people.
Remember you need to also take care of yourself. It is like when you are in the airplane and they say you put on the oxygen mask for yourself before you put it on anyone else.
If you’re struggling with parenting as a couple or any other aspect of parenting please contact us to make an appointment. Our Family Life Program — For Mums and Dads is a free program that offers parenting support, advice, referrals and emergency relief.
For more information or to book an appointment, phone 07 4953 1788 or email firstname.lastname@example.org