Parenthood – Don’t Be A Hero. As a marriage counselor specializing in working with couples, I listen to the many woes of parenthood. Understanding childhood developmental stages can guide young parents to exercise appropriate and effective parenting. When you become a parent for the first time it can be overwhelming as you strive to be the best “mother or father” possible. We all want the best for our children and go to great lengths to make sure that happens. Even if it chips away at your Sense of Self and marital needs.
In counseling I inform couples that in a healthy relationship the individual is #1 priority in getting needs and wants met. This is done with mindful intentions that are not all together self-serving. The individual within the relationship is #2 priority. Individuals are Independent in an Interdependent relationship. The actual relationship is #3 priority and offspring (children) are #4 priority. Some may disagree with me as they say their children are #1 priority. I agree that children are a priority but I encourage the order in which I prioritize a healthy healthy and functional relationship. The individual who knows what they want is a good place to start. This individual sets the stage for what kind of relationship you will have. It’s important to know what a healthy relationship looks like so you know what to expect. When the individual is happy and content the relationship benefits and the two develop a relationship they want. Every couple is different and has their own unique set of circumstances. It is important not to have parenting negatively affect your relationship. The couple is just as important as the children.
As a parent, I, too, wanted the best for my children. I have to admit I was overfunctioning (doing more than is necessary, more than is appropriate and more than is healthy) and became frustrated and resentful. Actually, all my life I was overfunctioning. Overfunctioning is a sign of Codependency, and keeps you emotionally and physically fatigue as you are “doing” too much for people who can do for themselves. Doing too much for your children when they are perfectly capable of doing for themselves is “enabling.” Enabling prevents children from become Functional Adults. Enabling (overfunctioning) children not only hurts them, it hurts your relationship. Don’t be a Hero.
You don’t have to do it all. Outsource household work that you not only hate, have no time to do. Cooking home cooked meals everyday may be unrealistic as most couples are two working parent households. And please don’t do yard work, unless it makes you happy. Develop a schedule so that household responsibilities are shared. Schedule sex weekly so you don’t lose intimacy while raising your children. I see parents who have no sex life because they can’t or won’t put boundaries in place to separate out coupling and parenting. You can imagine what happens in the long term. Don’t be a Hero.
As a mother of two adult daughters, I can certainly relate to parents who over function with the good intentions of providing the best for our kids. Because I put good boundaries in place and appreciate the priorities for a healthy relationship my daughters are high functioning, independent and self-reliant people. My husband and I after 21 years of marriage have a relationship that resembles couples in the Honeymoon Stage. It takes a lot of work maintaining your individuality, your couplehood, and being a good parent. Keep in mind your children can do without you “doing” for them. Don’t be a Hero as that kind of parent is doing a disservice to themselves, their relationship and their children’s ability to Grow Up.
For more information please contact me at (858) 735-1139.