by Cherith Pedersen
Children need both parents. More often than not they also need to feel a sense of security in the bond their parents share. Children are propelled in their self development by parents who actively work together for their well-being. What this looks like are parents who communicate well with each other and prioritise spending quality time with them and each other.
What if you have a hard time measuring up to these expectations?
Say you are in a committed relationship, you talk, however not particularly well. Suppose you are just going through the motions? Well according to the book, A case for marriage: Why married people are happier, healthier and better off financially, there is good reason to believe that there is an 86 per cent chance of a turnaround. And once you are staying in it for the children, your aim should be to turn things around.
Why, because the relationship you have with your spouse or partner will change lives. First your own. Persons in strong, healthy partnerships have more wind in their sails and can better weather life’s shaky course. They have more resources between them, than if they stand alone. Their children will also have resources to the power of two. Your partnership will give them access to twice the energy, time, guidance and finances. Secondly, your healthy parenting relationship will reduce the negative fallout for everyone concerned, in schools, the workplace, the church and the wider community. Our society suffers when parents fail in their role.
Parenting effectively carries its price along with its reward. It can be emotionally draining to raise children, especially alone. By building up the foundation between yourselves as partners, you can work as a team to draw on each others reserves. Where one falters the other can press forward, especially in tough parenting situations.
Becoming a parent is a test of teamwork and even the best teams have to time-out and regroup, why not yours? Even partners who are dedicated, loving and supportive of each other, still have to work at being true parenting partners. Thinking that your partnership will not have a profound impact on your child is a myth. Children are exceptional instruments for how well you model good communication and resolve conflicts. Your interactions will affect how they feel about themselves and behave. They will show the world how they feel through their behaviour. It is therefore critical that you model caring, stability and positive interactions.
Mommy and Daddy time is essential.
This is the time you can take to replenish, recharge and reconnect. The way you spend time together is up to the individual couple. What might work for some may not for another. What’s important though is that you make the effort to spend time bonding and talking in ways that really open up the channels for a better understanding of each other.
Find ways to ask the tough questions: are you meeting your partner’s needs emotionally? How about their sexual needs? Are you pulling your weight in the partnership? If not, figure out how to meet each other half way.
Figure out your love codes. Each couple has its own unique way of showing love. What’s yours? Find ways to talk about how you show each other love or affection. A partner who is not very verbal may show love by doing little things that the other might overlook.
Celebrate your life together everyday. Find ways to show your appreciation every day. Romantic dinners and getaways are fine, but not always practical. Don’t hold out for special occasions to be affectionate.
Adults like children have a need to feel loved, cared for and rooted in a good relationship to thrive. Be bold and let your partner know how much you care very simply every day!
* Cherith Pedersen is trained counsellor.