If you are a new parent, or are about to become one, your relationship and partnership life will change and go through an adaptation process as you welcome a new member to the family. One of the most important things is to acknowledge this process as something normal and embrace the changes and learnings that come with it.
Many articles have been written on the importance of the partnership life of parents in their individual well-being. And, hey, having a healthy and communicative relationship with your partner also impacts positively on your skills as parents! A 2013 study by psychologists Clark, Young, and Dow from the University of South Florida suggested that improving the quality of a couple’s relationship has a significant implication in parenting attitudes. More specifically, researchers found that, after a 6-week workshop of relationship skills (increased communication, affectional expression, consensus, and satisfaction), the couples not only improved their partnership, but their parenting attitudes improved as well. Parents became more empathic towards their child’s needs, diminished their beliefs in corporal punishment, and increased their patience.
Couple of tips for new parents:
- Don’t try to do it all yourself. Strong couples communicate their needs early and often, as this prevents either of you from feeling resentful over unmet expectations or unclear responsibilities.
- Leisure budget-planning. Although your time availability or budgets may have changed importantly, think of some habits and things you enjoyed during your dating life, and see what is still doable so you can schedule it or adapt it to your new rhythm. This could mean a Sunday morning walk or, if you enjoyed going to the cinema, watch a movie together. The point is trying to connect with each other through your mutual and familiar interests.
- Express gratitude. Kind words go a long way in making partners feel loved and appreciated for doing the hundreds of big or tiny tasks they complete each day.
- Start a new hobby together. Just make sure this new get-together is not very time-consuming. This will give you something exciting and different to talk about amidst all the practicalities of being a parent.
- Check in regularly. Don’t assume you can check the communication box as marked just because you and your partner discussed their needs one time after coming back from the hospital. You need to talk things through, adapt to reality, and accept the other’s feelings and opinions.
- Cherish this phase! Remember your child’s infancy is only a fleeting phase, so try to enjoy this special time to make your family strong and grow together.