While marriage is merging of two individuals, parenting is not easy, and as parents, both you and your spouse experience a wide range of intense emotions and feelings provoked by your children. Anger, sadness, disappointment, fear, anxiety, you name it. Awareness of the origin of those feelings helps a lot with successful and loving parenting in conjunction with the strengthening of your marriage.
Is it about taking care of your child or about your own needs
There are two main reasons why as a parent you or your partner could have a strong emotional reaction to what your child does or does not do. First, your child does something he or she should not do. I have a simple example for that: if your child wants to play in the middle of a freeway, it’s totally not okay. It is dangerous. As a parent, you both want to protect your child and not allow that behavior.
However, my example is a little bit too extreme and obvious, and in real life examples of dangerous behaviors are often much more subtle. What if your child does something not so dangerous, but it is something that either you or your partner does not approve of? And here is reason number two. When you do not approve of something your child does or does not do, where the motivation comes from inside of you? Is it about taking care of your child or about your own needs and desires?
Refrain from putting the pressure of fulfiling your need on your child
Let’s imagine this hypothetical situation: your spouse always wanted to play the violin, but for some reason, it was not available to them when they were younger. Then time passed, other things became more important in life, and they never learned to play violin. Now your child is at this age when it’s appropriate to start studying to play violin. Your child does not feel excited about it, but your partner does. You and your partner think a lot about how great it is that your child gets an opportunity that one of you did not have! So, if your child studies to play violin, is it about your child’s development or your own unrealized need? And if your child gets bad grades and wants to stop those classes, do you feel disappointed and angry?
In this situation, your feelings are not really about your child and his or her actions. They are about you and your spouse’s own unfulfilled desire. It was their dream to play that violin. And for the happiness of both you as parents, and your child, it is important for you to understand that. If you do, you can make a conscious choice. You may encourage your partner to start learning to play violin or not, but you will not put the pressure of fulfilling your need, on your child.
Listen to your feelings and examine their origin
You will allow both of you to have your own needs and desires and be who you are, often different from each other in many various ways. It could be difficult to distinguish between those two reasons when examples are not as obvious as mines are. However, if you look inside, and you are honest about it, you will know. The more you and your partner listen to your feelings and examine their origin, the clearer this distinction with respect to each particular situation in life becomes. Such discussions with your spouse can strengthen your marital bond and contribute to a healthier approach to parenting.