No one knows the "right way" to parent, because there really isn't just one specific set of rules every single parent can (or should) follow. Everyone creates their own instruction manual and commits, and there's no way to tell how your specific brand of parenting will affect your relationship until you're in the thick of it. There are some parenting choices you only make if your marriage is broken, though, and knowing what they are and what they say about a relationship can help any couple stay together through the trials and tribulations of parenthood. After all, marriage and parenthood are both complicated enough without weaving the two together.
I'm sure I've unintentionally made a few parenting decisions that speak volumes when it cones to the state of my marriage, but I always aim to back track and fix whatever error I have made so my husband and I can move forward in a better, healthier way. Having been with my partner for 13 years, our two children (hopefully) know they can come to either one of us about anything. My husband and I try to remain open and communicate honestly, and, for the most part, keep our relationship disagreements at a level our kids may overhear but not feel concerned and/or worried about.
There's been times, though, when I've probably doled out a punishment without speaking to my partner first, or, when working, dismissed a conversation a child tried to start. I'm not perfect, but I try to learn from my mistakes the best I can. With that, here's some parenting decisions that might say bad things about your marriage:
You Don't Discuss Punishments Together
I'm the one who's primarily home with our kids, so, without even thinking about it, I'm usual the only responsible party "on shift." When my kids need help with homework, it's me they come to. Likewise (and because their dad works a lot), when one of them is in trouble, I'm also the one who has to deal with explaining the consequences of their actions. I can see how taking full responsibility as the primary caregiver — without consoling my husband — may say bad things about our marriage.
You Say One Thing, Your Partner Says Another
Kids are notorious for pitting one parent against the other. If you don't have a solid foundation where communication is strong, they'll easily win. This may be one of the biggest issues in my marriage. Our kids know to go to their dad if I've already nixed something and he'll, unknowingly, agree. This causes a mess of problems for all involved.
You're Dismissive Of Your Child's Conversations
I'm definitely guilty of waving my children off if I'm in the middle of something work-related. To be fair, however, they do interrupt me a lot. I don't know why it's so hard for them to understand that just because I'm home, doesn't mean I'm always available.
When I do wave them off, though, I know that my dismissal may signal more troubling things within my marriage. How often do I do this to my husband? Do I not care about this thoughts or opinions? Do I not have time for him? It certainly forces me to pay closer attention to how I make space for those I love.
You Let Your Child Do Whatever They Want
It might seem like a good idea at the time — to allow your children to do whatever they want in order for you to get things done — but it, too, says bad things about your marriage. I've been there. At times when I'm most desperate to meet a deadline, I've let my kids run the house. My husband doesn't always agree, or get a say, and that creates its own kind of trouble.
You Force Your Child To Take Sides
When I was little my parents fought all the time. I was often forced to choose who to side with, too, as if I was somehow the only way they could end their argument: I was the automatic judge and jury. It's an unfair position to be in when you're young, and it shows lack of respect to both your children and your spouse. It's not a competition. Let your kids love both of you.
Your Child Always Come First
Since the birth of my son, I've been guilty of putting him and his sister above my husband on more than a few occasions. I don't ever mean to, but of course it takes a toll on our relationship. It's important to cultivate what we have and maintain our relationship, so our kids have something they can rely on to be strong and unwavering when they need it most.
You Criticize More Than You Support
I've recently realized that I say things to my kids the wrong way. Even when I mean well, it doesn't always come out the way I intended. After I experienced a lightbulb moment with my daughter, I also sensed I may do this with my husband, too.
Obviously I don't want my marriage to suffer because of the way I've learned to parent my kids (and unintentionally transferred those lessons to my marriage), and it's something I'll continue to work on. Hopefully, however, and as with every parent's homemade instruction manual, there's room for both error and growth.