Published on Wednesday, 30 November -0001 00:00
The best foundation for good parenthood is attention to the relationship you have with your partner. Parents may forget the joy of sleeping as long as they want in the morning, but the opportunity for couples to spend time together without being interrupted by children is valuable throughout the growth and development of the children. It is a simple concept: couples need to be able to keep their relationship strong as partners as well as parents. Talking things over with your partner is very important. Find a comfortable spot and time alone to talk about how you can improve communication. In particular, discuss ways to make your children a plus for your marriage. Identifying the changes that have occurred to them as individuals and as a couple, they are better able to adjust to the changes in a parenting role. Discuss the things that you find most rewarding and frustrating about parenting. Try to divide tasks that are difficult equally between parents. Discuss how both of you can be involved in your children's lives so that each of you has some time alone without children, aside from work and household responsibilities. It is good to have individual interests as well as joint interests for a satisfying relationship. Allocate babysitting money in your monthly budget to allow for time alone as a couple. Or, barter with friends to exchange childcare or enlist the help of relatives. It is important that the bonds and interests you share with your partner extend beyond your children and their activities. Plan routinely for special activities and outings that you can experience together as a family. Find things that you, your partner and your children will enjoy. Join in activities with other parents to share the frustrations as well as the joys of parenthood. Remember that you are modeling relationship skills for your children. They are watching you and learning relationship skills by how you communicate as a couple. Parenting can be an exciting, joint venture but it isn't necessarily one. You have to want it and plan it to be so before it happens. Then when your children have grown up, you have set the stage for a mutually-satisfying relationship. Kathleen Olson has spent her career focusing on parenting issues and believes that most issues we face in life go back to parenting. She is an Extension Educator in Family Relations for the University of Minnesota and has two children of her own.