Facing challenges is a natural part of being a family. PARC therapists are experienced in working jointly with members of families and extended families, such as parents and adult children, young adult and adolescent children, grandparents, in-laws, siblings, and aunts and uncles.
When functioning well, families can work through issues together and emerge stronger, even continuing to nurture one another throughout adulthood. With family therapy, we can help your family develop the tools to overcome challenges together, strengthen your relationships with one another, and create a supportive family environment.
TIPS FOR HAPPIER FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS
1. Never side with a child against your partner.
This is a surprisingly common point of conflict between parents. Presenting a united front is critical to establishing boundaries with your children, and to creating a secure environment in which they can develop and learn. To do otherwise would be to undermine your partner’s authority, and imply that you don’t respect him or her – as a person as much as a parent. If you don’t respect your partner, why should your child? Understandably, this situation creates huge anger and resentment on all sides, and can be greatly damaging.
If you disagree with your partner on any aspect of raising your children, raise the matter privately, in a respectful, non-confrontational manner. Be prepared to listen and to work towards a solution well away from the ears and eyes of your children.
2. Put your partner first.
Yes, even before your children! This is not to imply in any way that your children are less important. Rather, this is to cement your relationship as the foundation upon which your family and household rests. There are myriad small ways in which you can show your partner how important he or she continues to be for you in your busy lives as parents.
Greet your partner first as he or she comes through the door with a big kiss. Set up a regular date night that only an actual emergency should disrupt. Show each other affection whenever you can. Your children will feel more secure, and your relationship will flourish.
3. Embrace your differences as parents.
As parents, you may find yourselves naturally falling into different approaches. This is based on fundamental differences in your personalities, and will likely never change. Dad might be the more relaxed, fun-loving one, Mom might be the more anxious, “helicopter” type – or vice-versa!
Accept that these differences will keep coming up over and over again in different contexts as your children grow, and there’s no point in either of you trying to change the other. It does no good to judge or criticize. This will only lead to conflict and resentment.
As long as there is mutual respect, and you both present a united front on the issues that really matter, try to remember that both your parenting styles have their advantages and drawbacks. If your children are happy and healthy, you’re both doing a great job!