3 years ago · lizzie · 0 comments
Relationship problems with your extended family often begin when you’re married with kids
When 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.
When 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?
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