The arrival of a newborn is an extremely special and exciting time in our lives. We have spent nine months planning for the new arrival, celebrating with family and friends, attending baby showers, furnishing the nursery and organising what new activities are available now that you are a family. A new baby can bring immense joy but it also brings a huge amount of responsibility and a lot of work which can limit time together as a couple. This can have a major impact on the relationship. As a couple, if you have not agreed how to parent your child together this new responsibility can create a great deal of friction between you both. It is not until you have children that you may find things out about your partner that you were not aware of before. Your partner may have a laisser-faire approach to managing bad behaviour whereas your approach may be very different. These differing approaches can cause disagreements and feelings of incompatibility. Having a child may place more pressure on the finances, time, energy and intimacy. So, what can you both do?
Many of the problems that I experience in the counselling room arise from parents working as individuals rather than adopting a “team” approach to parenting. Having differing views of how to parent your child can lead to you working against each other, one parent telling the child one thing and the other parent telling them another. This approach can be extremely confusing for the child and potentially damaging. Children need to experience their parents working together and giving the same messages, providing them with clear boundaries and a feeling of safety. It is therefore very important that as a couple you are able to work through your differences where parenting is concerned, right from the beginning so that your child experiences you as parents who are united in their approach to the child’s upbringing.
On becoming parents, the workload increases greatly and ideally should be shared equally. Many couples end up in conflict about this, one probably feeling like they are doing more than the other. This is another common problem that I often see in the counselling room. We often, within our relationship, assume roles that maybe you observed your parents doing when you were children or that are gender normative. For example, one person taking on more of the household chores because this is what they have always done in the relationship or the other ending up organising things because they are more organised. It does not have to be this way - talking things through with your partner and agreeing together what would be fair are ways forward. Negotiation and compromise may also be necessary but ultimately it is much better for your relationship in the long term than leaving one person feeling uncomfortable and resentful.
It’s Good to Talk:
Being able to talk with your partner is an important skill throughout the relationship and the parenting process. Being able to talk openly and honestly to your partner about what is making you feel happy, sad or angry is so important. As a couple, if you are able to achieve this you are much more likely to be able to deal with the challenges of parenting. Talking together will enable you to adopt your team approach towards parenting and a happy healthy family life.
If you find yourselves struggling with your ability to communicate with each other or are struggling with any aspects of the parenting process then please do contact me via the contact page or call to arrange an appointment.