Don't Let Your Children Come Between You

By: Nicola Beer

This morning I am at the airport flying back to Dubai. I stayed with my sister and her 4 children 17, 11, 9 and 4, which has been great fun. It’s exhausting, just watching how hard she works to keep everyone happy. She got divorced 2 years ago and both her and her ex husband have new partners. Her children’s safety and wellbeing comes first, it goes without saying that they are her world. But she also must ensure her partner is looked after and that she also remains good friends with her ex, so they co-parent together effectively. I am in awe of her ability to do this, her energy and patience. It is a great reminder of the importance not letting children come between you and your partner. I’ve decided to write about and share some tips on this today, because it is a challenge I see many married couples face in my counseling and not just those in step parent families. If you want more support contact me today.

Graham and Anna came to me a few months ago to resolve child rearing differences. Anna had a problem with the way Graham treated their son and daughter differently. He was very strict on letting his daughter out of the family home, he criticized what she wore and wanted her to stay in and focus on her studies. He was the complete opposite when it came to their son, his son was allowed to stay out and allowed him much more freedom. Anna felt for her daughter it reminder her of her own childhood and relationship with her father and warned him that he was pushing his daughter away. She feared if he kept on controlling her, she would either rebel or become too naïve. Anna wanted her to make her own mistakes, get out, try new things and “live”. It was becoming a huge problem between them. They resented and undermined one another and needless to say they were drifting apart at an alarming rate.

I’ve never come across a parent who wouldn’t do anything in their power to protect their children. Most parents love their children unconditionally and make decisions with the children’s best interests in mind. But when parents disagree on these decisions and the way children are raised it can threaten the whole relationship and family unit.

Many experts state one of the most important messages you can show your children is that you respect, love and will stand up for each other. The parents closeness and alignment on family rules is essential to the smooth running of a house hold. It helps the family function as a unit and overcome challenges.

I appreciate this is easier said than done and I have listed three measures below that I know work well for the couples I have worked with.

3 Measures You Can Take to Protect Your Relationship

1. Ensure you make time for each other (at least 30 minutes daily) to connect emotionally and let love flow by having uninterrupted discussions. Listen, show affection, express your love and share feelings. Make sure that your conversation is not about problems, logistical arrangements, finances or complaints. If you work away, then be sure to connect on the phone.

2. You MUST have alone time. Don’t allow your children to share your bed or bedroom for longer than necessary. When a child refuses to sleep alone or separated from a parent it can cause difficulty in your relationships. You need space in the bedroom to fully connect. No matter how hard the child plays up, breaking this routine is essential for many relationships.

3. Don’t make big decisions that will affect each other without discussing and gaining agreement with one another first. Children can come between adults if you give in to a child’s demand, without considering each other. Be careful not to say yes to anything, advise your children you will consult and get back to them at a later date. Your children will respect you far more for this, than saying yes and having to later say no or saying yes and then hearing argue over the decision. Never allow your children’s wants take precedence over your spouse’s needs (Dr Todd Linaman).

Co-Parenting Relationships

I also see, just how difficult co-parenting can be. Especially when a child starts starts making up stories about what one parent is doing. When a child realises that they can play one parent off against each other to get what they want, they will. In this case it can be all too easy to blame the other parent for the child’s aggressive, angry or demanding behavior. Blame doesn’t get anywhere and a strained co-parenting relationship can causes more problems for all.

I frequently help parents to devise ways to collaborate more and make joint agreements. I’ve helped individuals and couples transform their relationship after divorce, where at first they could barely say hi each other. When I start the online coaching many find it hard not to get angry or upset with their ex, but as we go through the program and address problems as they arise, it becomes much easier and the children benefit immensely from a closer alignment.

In summary, you need take measures to not allow your children to come between you. So, however you do it, and to whatever degree, consider the importance of putting your relationship first. If you do, everyone wins.

Hope you find something useful in this today, from my heart to yours Nicola

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