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1 year ago · · 0 comments

Married with Kids – When You Clash With Your In Laws

Relationship problems with your extended family often begin when you’re married with kids

family conflict - Married with KidsWhen you fall in love with someone, life seems great

Then you meet your partner’s family and soon enough your in laws become part of your life too. In the ideal world, you would seamlessly slot into your partners extended family and vice versa. Unfortunately this is not the case for many couples and relationship problems often arise, especially after you are married with kids. One of the main reasons for this is that the family dynamics need to change when a new partner settles into a family as a new family ‘team’ is formed.

When you become a ‘couple’, you essentially combine one set of upbringing with another and hope for the best

Relationship problems often arise when a new partner does not seem acceptable to a family. In other words the new partners lifestyle, personality, beliefs or occupation are not accepted by the extended family. This can cause conflict for the person torn between previous and new family values and expectations. For instance, if you have always done whatever your parents ask of you (even if it’s unreasonable) and this conflicts with what your partner is asking of you.

In these situations there needs to be an understanding that adult children will need to develop their own lives and new family rules of behaviour. However, as a parent you can begin to establish family routines that can be maintained even after your children leave the nest, so old and new families can both feel important.

The concept of being a ‘team’ in a partnership is often neglected by many couples when they become married with kids. 

childcare decision - Married with KidsWhen children enter a family, issues with in laws can really intensify. Some inlaws become insecure and possessive of grandchildren. They may be critical of your parenting practices and place demands on when they should have the children. If you are having this experience, it can be very difficult to manage, particularly if your partner is in conflict with you. The ideal thing would be to discuss any concerns you have before your child arrives. Place some ground rules in place early, so potential conflict does not arise.

If you already have children and you are experiencing conflict with in laws, the way you communicate with your partner is vital to keeping the peace within your new family. It’s important to also keep in mind that your partner is trying to keep the peace. This can be difficult when in laws place pressure on your partner to see their point of view.

In order to manage this pressure once you’re married with kids (and not allow it to lead to significant relationship problems), always keep 4 things in mind

1) Always work as a team and get to the heart of these issues so they do not impact your relationship.

2) Do not allow these differences to impact how you feel about, or treat each other.

3) Talk about why you each have your point of view.

4) The key thing to always consider is “what’s in the best interest of our child?”

When considering the fourth point above, ask your partner questions like:

  • what are our family values in terms of how often we want to socialise without our child and how much we want to be the primary influencers of their upbringing
  • is it in the best interest of our child to be left with a grandparent one day per week versus childcare?
  • are you leaving our child in family members care just to appease them and to stop having to feel guilty for saying “no”?
  • how does our child feel about being left in this family members care?
  • do we believe this career physically and mentally capable of looking after our child unsupervised?
  • would this person be a good influence on our child?
  • will our child miss out on important social interactions if grandparent care substitutes childcare?
  • how often should we leave our child with family members – what are we comfortable with?

It’s important to feel confident and comfortable with your child’s carers when you’re married with kids

When you take away the emotion and just deal in the world of facts, you can have a reasoned discussion about how often, where and when in laws should look after your child. This way personal feeling are not hurt and you can look after the best interest of your child. That’s what really matters.

There is no right or wrong way to make decisions about childcare

Your (and your partners) personal and family values and beliefs will have a significant impact on your childcare decisions. For instance, if you have come from a stressful upbringing, you may be more inclined to want to protect your child from any potentially negative influences. In contrast, if you have come from a very warm and caring background, you may be very comfortable with your child being raised by various members of your family.

The most important issue for your new family, is to communicate your feeling. Be specific with your partner about your reasons behind your views on childcare. Be open to your partner’s views and concerns too. This way, you always work as a team with the primary aim of keeping your child safe, secure, healthy and happy.

What if we just can’t agree on childcare?

If you are having difficulties communicating with your partner about these issues, see help now before you experience further relationship problems. Take advantage of our August 2018 special and receive $80 off your first couples counselling session. Simply download your free coupon here and email us at info@happylife.net.au to book in your first session now. OFFER ENDS 30 Aug 18. If you would like to take up this offer, but are unable to attend counselling in Malvern victoria (where our office is located), we offer couples counselling via Skype also.

Grab your Free Couples Counselling Coupon Now

marriage counselling offer - married with kids

 

Having a New Baby: Getting Your Mindset Right In Pregnancy

2 years ago · · 0 comments

Having a New Baby: Getting Your Mindset Right In Pregnancy

Your New Baby

counselling for new mums having a new babyWhen you’re pregnant all you can think about is how wonderful life is going to be when you’re new baby arrives. Of course there are the usual anxieties about how things might change and how you’re going to cope with sleep deprivation and so on. However, no-one really talks about the expectations of parenting and that life cannot possibly stay the same – that it’s essential to make your child, yourself and your relationships a priority otherwise stress, depression and anxiety can easily set in.

We have a strange misconception about parenting that it should be easy. That mothers should be able to seamlessly work full time or part time, run the household, look after their health and happiness, be on top of their finances, maintain healthy relationships and just be calm, happy, fun, energetic and consistent parents all the time. But this is not the reality that befalls 99.9% of mothers in this world. Due to the fact the expectations do not meet reality, motherhood is often a shock for many new mums. Mothers can easily become confused about why it seems so tiring, difficult or not as seamless as expected and therefore can be left asking themselves regularly “why can’t I cope as well as I expected I would???”

But what if mothers were able to alter expectations and become more prepared for motherhood for their new baby as a result?

Having the right expectations

The first thing that needs to be altered in pregnancy is expectations. Specifically, the expectation that a child will just fit into your lifestlye, will always behave and will always give you time to yourself. The expectation should be that you have a child that needs you to make her your first priority, but not at the expense of yourself. You still need to look after your health and happiness but it’s important to understand that there will be times when you plan to do things a certain way and your child decides she needs you right now.

These instances are prime targets for high levels of stress. For instance, let’s say you have to pay some bills. You have been putting this off and now finally have a minute to pay the bills whilst your child sleeps. But, your new baby wakes up after 20 minutes and won’t settle down – she needs you right then. You start to feel resentful and angry that you can’t get a minute to yourself. However if instead of letting this resentment build up you took a breath and remembered your child has to be priority no 1, you would be able to think clearly for a minute to work out your best course of action to look after her needs and your own. You might put your baby in her sling and rock her to sleep and then sit on the computer to complete your bills.

Making your new baby a priority does not mean neglecting your own needs

One of the things that many mothers neglect is how to look after their own needs. They push through exhaustion, neglect to maintain a healthy diet, emotionally eat or drink to soothe negative feelings, worry about whether or not they are meeting the expectations of friends, family members, or the wider community, spend money they don’t really have in order to appear to be coping/or have the best dressed child and so on… When mothers neglect their own physical and mental health, it is very easy to feel insecure and allow self-doubt to impact confidence in parenting. Feeling insecure often leads to snappiness and fighting within relationships too. So, the key to maintaining a happy home and to achieve the goal of positive and consistent parenting – is to look after yourself as a mother so that you feel calm in the face of stress (e.g. when your baby won’t go to sleep or is having a tantrum in public), or to feel energetic when your child wants you to get down to his level and play. So, your health and happiness is paramount to the health and happiness of your child.

Motherhood is not meant to be perfect

You are going to make mistakes. This is part of being a human being. So, it’s really important to trust that being a Perfect Mum is not the goal of parenting. The goal is being the best mum you can be for your child. When you make mistakes, don’t criticism yourself. Just think through the situation and ask yourself “is there anything I can change that would make things easier or better?” That’s all you can ask of yourself.

Prioritise time for fun with your new baby

This is really important. Often mums feel guilty about all the tasks they ‘should’ be doing when they are playing with their child. Then they  feel guilty when they are undertaking these tasks – thinking they ‘should’ be playing with their child at that time. So they do not allow themselves to really enjoy the opportunities to have fun together and they never feel as though they are being ‘present” with their child. If you can relate to this, take a few minutes to schedule you day so that you can take opportunities to have fun with your child (for example going to the play centre or park together) and then feel relaxed and happy about having ‘you time’ or spending time on work or tasks during other times in the day. That way you create a balance and you and your child create special moments together that will last for every in your memory.

The key take-away

Always remind yourself why you had children. What was the reason you wanted to have a new baby and how can you alter your mindset to create more realistic and calming expectations of parenting. Being a mother is very taxing because children crave your attention. However, when you become mindful and set time together to have fun and relax, when you look after both your needs and the needs of your child and when you feel OK that things will not always go to plan, your live becomes easier and much less stressful. Plus, you can cope so much better when things don’t go the way your way.

new babyLizzie O’Halloran, BBSc, MASR, NLP Prac

Founder of Help For Mums and Author of Perfect Mum & Refresh Your Life