All couples will argue about the kids, sometimes it might feel like they’re coming between you, at other times it may feel like they are playing one of you off against the other. And then the rows start. When it comes to bringing up kids together, the most important thing you can do for your couple relationship is to learn how to talk about some of these stresses and strains and differences of opinion.
Of course, it can be difficult to keep good communication going when you’re both busy and exhausted, but it’s the most valuable thing you can do to prevent little issues becoming major problems. And also kids will learn from seeing how you resolve issues and difficulties.
Being confident and feeling competent in how you parent will mean you are better at supporting your partner; when we feel confident and supported we tend to have far fewer arguments about the kids.
Research shows that the following are really important to feeling close.
- Believing in your partner’s ability to be a good parent.
- Acknowledging and respecting your partner’s contributions to day to day l
- Backing up each other’s parenting decisions and authority (even if you don’t agree 100%)
- Not undermining your partner by criticizing or blaming
- Dividing household chores fairly
- Respecting and upholding your partner’s decisions.
- Sharing and celebrating your child’s development is good for a couple’s closeness.
- Working together as a team and recognizing how your partner develops as a parent.
Take a look at the following statements, they will help you see where your strengths as a couple lie when it comes to parenting. Then see how you and your partner’s answers compare.
- We are able to share parenting and household task/chores fairly
- I feel confident my partner understands me and how that affects my parenting
- I am able to understand my partner and the things that affect their parenting
- We are able to manage the challenges of parenting together
- We share the same values/ideals as parents and the same hope/dreams for our children’s future
- I am able to support my partners’ decisions in front of the children
- I am confident my partner will back me up in front of the children
Have a good look at your answers, you may find you feel differently about some areas of your relationship. The aim of this exercise is not to be critical of each other but to identify feelings that make you feel united rather than separate and work on these.
So if one of you has answered that chores aren’t shared fairly try and come up with a new routine or think of a few practical things you might be able to change to equal things out a bit more. Sometimes listening to each other and making a few small changes can make a really big difference.
When it comes to confidence and feel supported if this is a difficult area for you rather than being a critical look at some of the times you did support each other. How do these compare with when you felt unsupported? Why might this be? Try and identify issues where you find it easy to agree and work from there.
Maybe you feel you can back each other up most of the time but there’s a particular thing you always disagree on. For instance, a discipline issue like what time kids get home, certain friends, homework, pulling their weight around the house – try and unpick why this might be a sticking point. Maybe one of you worries about something more than the other. If you can be honest about the worries or fears that lay behind certain discipline issues you might be able to come around to a similar way of thinking. Or maybe if a particular issue really matters to one of you more than the other it’s worth bending a little. Remember you don’t have to agree on everything, what important is to feel united in how you handle issues with the kids.
Don’t try and tackle everything at once but use this exercise as a starting point in identifying ways you work well as a team. Believing in your own ability is a really important aspect of working well as parents. So beginning by sharing what you feel confident and less confident about is key. If you can understand this about each other it can really help you pull together when you need to
There will always be ups and downs but couples who believe they can succeed are more likely to bounce back and try again after facing a setback.