The challenges described in this article happen in every house in one form or another; the feelings they bring are as common as the challenges themselves. Here are three tips to help you THRIVE in your relationship and be the parent who you want to be.
Fights, power struggles, a growing amount of unspoken conversations, tense silence, and loneliness. So much loneliness. Most couples I talk to know these human phenomena and feelings all too well because it happens in every house.
The more we find ourselves disagreeing and keep our feelings to ourselves, the harder it becomes to bridge over these differences later on. And the more significant the gap – the less possible it seems we’d ever be able to work through it. So we keep to ourselves. We stop talking. Instead, we erode like volcanoes whenever the smallest misunderstanding presents itself, whenever the kids are on our nerves. Whenever and constantly.
Does this sound familiar? If it does, I’d like to offer you three tips to help you maintain an unbreakable connection between your partner and you, as well as a healthy family cell, that includes your children.
Tip #1: Don’t Turn Your House Into a War Zone
I know it sounds hard, I do. And I know that all these feelings that you are keeping within you feel as if they regularly get the better of you, literally forcing you to explode with anger and frustration, leading to your partner’s reactiveness and their own inner explosions.
Relationships are hard, very hard. But not fighting in front of your children will help you create a safe place for them – a safe place where they can grow and thrive, knowing that their place is secure, that they don’t need to choose sides, and that their emotions and general being is safe. This is an issue of profound and existential trust.
When children witness their parents fighting, it is as if an earthquake shatters the very ground beneath their feet. Children cannot fathom the profoundness of our emotions, and extreme reactions lead them to fear, mistrust, and emotional withdrawal.
Often they won’t come and talk to us about it, but we will see the effects of our fights on their emotional well-being (and thus – behavior). Children will become more and more closed and withdrawn, prawn to anger and frustration themselves, they will communicate less, wet their bed, will continuously engage in meaningless power struggles, cry and whine, and a variety of other behavioral outcomes. Children of all ages who seize from trusting their parents’ ability to contain their feelings (which happens when parents lose the ability to contain their own feelings) react in very similar ways.
These behavioral outcomes have to do with the loss of clarity and security, autonomy, and the knowledge of having a safe place for authentic self-expression.
So no matter how hard, challenging, and emotionally straining this might be – don’t fight in front of your children. Take a few deep breathes, walk away if you need to, and resolve to deal with the pressing matter at hand at a later time. It will be worth your efforts.
Tip #2: Never Stop Talking
Directly related to the previous tip, but with a twist. Even though we wish to postpone our electric conversations to a later time when we’re alone and focused, we don’t want to let the notion of delaying to get the better of us.
It’s easy to forget. We’re so tired, exhausted, and often overwhelmed with the happenings of life and parenting that choosing to simply not have the conversation is a more straightforward solution. But if we choose this path of avoidance, we’ll have to pay a hefty price that will take its toll upon our relationship.
The longer we’ll keep our feelings to ourselves, the more they’ll grow within us. The less we talk, the more talking our brains will do. When our minds go on and on with angry and judgmental monologues – the angrier we get, and we drift further and further away from one another. It is then that loneliness begins filling the space between us. This loneliness is not only detrimental because it can lead to a breakup, but also because it completely transforms our lives and experiences. This is not how we want to live; is it?
We’re so eager to keep the peace and the quiet between us, we choose to avoid the conversation believing it serves the purpose of peace, but it’s the other way around. Not talking is the best prescription for further fights and power struggles.
So talk. Never stop talking. Here’s how 🙂
Tip #3: Recap Your Day, Every Day
If you’ve made the brilliant decision to talk, there’s a beautiful way of doing it to keep the stream of communication going, to maintain and strengthen your connection, and to make sure that life together and as a family is exactly what you want it to be.
Daily recaps. Take five minutes each day to honestly speak one to another, share what worked for you and what didn’t, share your ideas, your feelings, and don’t be afraid to speak honestly. You’ve chosen each other, and you’ve decided to bring children into this world because you love each other, and you believe you’re a good team. Don’t forget that.
Good teams work together.
Watch this video to learn how to stay focused on your relationship and parenting goals, and learn how to talk to each other every day.
And if you need help – I’m here for you. I’ve been healing relationships and helping parents thrive on their journey of parenting, and I would love to meet you 🙂
This March, I will be launching THE TRIBE – a mindful parenting community where I will be offering daily classes and personal and dedicated help to a small group of parents to grow the love, compassion, and empathy in their households.
In the meanwhile – join my life and parenting support group on Facebook! It’s a great resource for peace of mind 🙂
Hope to meet you soon 🙂
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