Will your kids cause your divorce?
Many arguments that partners have are over parenting techniques and practices. Difference in opinions can snowball all the way to the divorce court, is that what you want?
As they say, parenting doesn’t come with a rule book, so we have developed a list of questions to ask yourself and your partner. If you are your partner are both parenting under the same guidelines there will be less parenting stress and a more secure child.
Open up the discussions by looking at the below questions, and see what works for your family. These questions can be used as a guideline for decisions to be made once your child is at an appropriate age.
- How will each parent spend quality time with the child?
One on one time is important for every relationship. How will parents get one on one time with each child? Do you think this is necessary? Will it be something that you will be mindful of continually, and schedule in each week? What will that time look like?
- What sorts of ways will you talk with your child?
Stereotyping is still prevalent in society and you can still hear ‘toughen up princess’, and ‘don’t be a sissy’, and many many more sayings. How do you intend to support your children with the language you use? What words will you use for body parts, how will you instil safety with your child, will you use ‘baby talk’, will you be quite direct with your child or explain the reasons behind everything, the list goes on.
- What routines will work in your family?
Do you expect everyone to sit at the table for dinner, what is the limit on screen time, what bed routines will you establish, who will get a sleep in? Each family will have slightly different routines, so it needs to be what works for the whole family.
- Will your child be given chores to do?
Do you expect your child to make their bed, hang their towel, help around the house? How much should they do, and to what standard? Will you help them? Will they get pocket money for everything they do, or just for additional activities on top of their everyday responsibilities?
- What activities would you like your child to partake in?
Are you competitive, will you encourage that in your child and choose sports that they can excel in? Would you like them to be more on the creative side with arts or dance? Is it important to you that your child plays a musical instrument? You often see families that have their child out every day doing one activity or another, do you think they need that much, and will you do this?
- How will you respond to certain child behaviours as they present themselves?
It is so important that children receive consistency with the messages we give them. Positive reinforcement, distraction, setting an example, calm conversations, they are all good means of guiding children, but they don’t’ all come naturally to all parents. Do you think you have the skills, would you consider seeking training, who can you call on to ask for guidance? What will you let go, what will you encourage, or discourage?
- How much independence and freedom will you give your child?
As they get older the children want to do things for themselves. A 2yo will often resist you putting their socks on, a 4yo will want to cut the orange by themselves, a 7yo wants to go to the park with their friend’s mum, a 10yo wants to go just with their friends. How much rope do you allow at different stages?
- What family outings will you go on together?
Social time is good for a child’s self esteem and development. Children remember activities together, not often the physical things we give them. How will you establish family times together, what will that look like? Will it be a picnic, a holiday, a board game night?
- How will you handle a fussy eater?
Many an argument occurs over a child that doesn’t eat well. Do you offer a similar alternative, give them a time frame, have them go without, or feed them anything so at least they eat? Parents have different views on this usually depending on what they had when they were growing up. Discuss, and if necessary research, to come up with a solution that both parents can agree on. A child will manipulate if parents are not working together.
- How will you handle a child that is not sleeping?
Sleep deprivation makes everyone cranky. If a discussion is had on strategies for a child that wakes, there seems to be more patience as the strategy is implemented. Again, look at the options, research if necessary, and make a decision as to how the situation will be conducted, and by who. If you are totally exhausted, would you consider consulting a sleep specialist?
- What ‘discipline’ methods do you agree or not agree with? Which will you use with your child?
Time out, time in, naughty corner, 123 Magic, there are all sorts of ‘discipline’ methods to explore. Everyone has an opinion, and every child is different as to what may work for them.
What are you comfortable with to implement, and at what point do these come in to play? Do you need to get some training in a specific area?
- Who will your child be friends with?
As much as we want to wrap our children up to keep them safe, as they get older their peers will have a huge influence on your child’s life. We want kids to choose friends that will support and value them. How can you encourage/discourage the kind of friends you want for your child, or do you leave it all up to them?
- When is the right time to return to work?
You may have had your ideas before baby was born about when to return to work and how much, but that often changes as circumstances and people change. It does not matter what others may say, what suits you, your partner and family?
- How will you spend future time with your spouse?
Let’s face it, after kids it is easy for the relationship to become more structured, less spontaneous and with less connection. How will you keep it so that you retain your relationship, and not just turn into housemates? How often will you spend time together as a couple going out, valuing each other? Who will care for your child
- How will you each spend time apart?
Time spent looking after yourself is not wasted time, it is very valuable, especially when you are a parent. You may spend time with friends, treat yourself to some me time, take up a hobby, or go for a walk. What do you view as appropriate for spending time apart from your family, and how will it be supported by your partner? Is it one night out a fortnight, a few hours during a weekend, or some other time?
There are more questions that will arise as the parenting journey unfolds. Exposure to various television shows, social media, sexuality, child’s own choices of diet, music, the list goes on. You won’t always know or totally agree on the answers, and if even if you do, the child reactions may turn out differently to what you anticipate…. that is parenthood.
We all go into parenthood for the joys. If you can get the clarity and conversations with the above questions the journey will be easier for you and give more stability for your child. Enjoy.
Suze has been raising many children for over 20 years. These are the questions she is continually working with in order to bring some calmness and consistency to her family. She also asks for similar information with her Babysitting agency so that the children being cared for are also given stability with consistency.