I often find that when children come along, they can bring enormous joy, but at the same time the sleepless nights and the constant attention they require, can mean that there is little time to nurture the marital relationship. At these times fathers can feel on the margins of the mother/child relationship, or at worst feel rejected, but these days fathers are becoming more and more involved in fatherhood. If both parents have agreed on how they want to parent their children, then the joint parenting can be very rewarding. However, often parents have very different ideas on how they should parent their children, e.g. one can be indulgent, while the other sets the rules and boundaries.
This disagreement can often become the focus of couple’s arguments, with one feeling that they are the only one who instills discipline, while the other one will assume the role of having fun with the children. These different views of parenting can begin to create a rift in what had been a happy marriage.
We are often influenced in how we parent, by the way we were parented ourselves. Some continue to parent in the way they were brought up, but for others, who feel they would have liked a different experience of childhood, choose to parent in another way. Often by going to the other extreme, e.g. if they had a strict upbringing, they may become very lenient. If both parents take very different views on how children should be raised, this can lead to irreconcilable arguments.
The children who find themselves in the middle of these differences, are often very confused and distressed, and they will seem to add fuel to the fire, even although this is the last thing they want. Children have an inbuilt intuition in finding the point of least resistance, and will drive a wedge between their parents, as they seek out the parent who is most likely to grant their wishes. On the face of it, from a child’s point of view, this appears to be a good position. However, it gives them a sense of omnipotence, which does not help them foster good relationships with their peers. If they never see their parents resolving arguments, how do they learn to manage conflict and negotiate a way forward?
When families find themselves in this situation, everyone ends up very distressed and it is difficult to begin to do things differently. However, with the help of a family therapist, it is possible to negotiate joint parenting strategies.
If you recognise this pattern of communication, then why not give me a call to find a way forward. Visit my website here: www.sheilalauchlanpsychotherapy.co.uk