I’m a bit worried. Not terribly. But a bit.
I don’t doubt my parenting skills. And I certainly don’t doubt the person I married. Quite the opposite, in fact. I couldn’t imagine someone more qualified to take this journey with me and seamlessly become a part of my family.
However, I’ve heard stories galore about what happens when new parents come into the picture.
And I think I would be naive to assume everything will go smoothly without any deep thought and extremely hard work.
I don’t presume to have all the answers. Nor do I assume that anyone does, since every situation is different. And I’ve been around the block too many times to think for a moment that things can’t go wrong even if I do everything “correctly”.
Nevertheless, I’m going to work every day to have the life and family I dream of. And I will guide myself by these five principles:
1) Never Stop Loving
Maybe it’s obvious. Or maybe too hard for some out there. What happens when a child is angry and says horrible things? What happens when they get to a level where their difficulties start interfering with the quality of your relationship?
Do you separate a little? Do you give up? Is it possible to just place your focus on your new relationship and pull away from the children?
The answer is no. The answer is never!
Just keep saying “I love you”. Say it often, say it proudly. And mean it every single time.
These little ones need the reassurance that you aren’t going anywhere, and you will be there for them every step of the way. For all of their needs. For all of the imminent craziness in their life. Forever.
2) Emphasize the Three Different Family Relationships
The family used to be just you and them. There was no need to highlight that relationship. It was there day in and day out. Of course you would always be around. For certain you would have lots of fun and excitement together.
But now there’s another relationship in the picture. You wish to be with your significant other, and it’s encroaching upon this beautiful parent-child relationship you’ve developed. There needs to be a healthy separation, where your children know when you need privacy. But they need to always know their time with you is super special as well. And will always be so.
But then there’s the next level. Those precious moments when you’re all together. When you’re an odd, modern family. And it’s beautiful synergy. Personally, there’s nothing in the world I want more!
And who knows, at some point maybe they’ll have a relationship completely independent of you. Sounds like a dream come true!
3) Focus on Quality Family Time
By the time any day comes to an end, it’s so easy to have spent the whole time hyper-focused on the practical blah we all love so dearly. Washing dishes, taking out the trash, walking the pooch, paying the bills.
Sometimes it feels like a small miracle if we get anything done that’s not just pragmatic day-to-day chores and responsibilities. For certain there is nothing wrong with being productive. There’s nothing wrong with finishing a day knowing you’ve gotten a whole lot done.
But we all know the truth. We don’t want to end our lives thinking we worked a lot, but our family is a mess. And we don’t want to go the grave thinking our kids might despise us… but at least the trash got taken out.
We need to take control of the day and make sure that the entire household knows that every minute spent having fun together is infinitely more important than the little its and bits of items you successfully managed to cross off your to-do list.
4) Recognize that Fears and Other Feelings are Real
It’s so easy to sit back and confidently explain the logical fallacies in other people’s feelings and emotions.
And yet, never in the history of the world (outside of Hollywood) has this ever been effective.
We all do it. We do it often. Still, we get upset when others do it to us… but it never makes us learn. We just generate further pain or pour lighter fluid on already existing hurts.
Why? Because when you logically try and eliminate someone’s hurt, it’s as if you’re telling them their feelings are not legitimate. You’re telling them they are not allowed to feel what they are feeling.
It is every person’s God-given right to feel. Your emotions are the most personal thing you possess. And no one in the world can deny you your feelings.
So what do you do when your loved ones express their fears and concerns? Sometimes it’s enough just to be there for them. To listen. To understand. And for God’s sake, this is what hugs were invented for!
But never, ever tell someone they can’t feel what they’re feeling, or imply it in any way.
The damage is far worse than any “help” you might be giving.
5) When in Doubt, Don’t Hesitate to Ask
A great relationship with your kiddos starts with great communication. If you are open to their thoughts and ideas, and they feel safe letting you know their feelings, it should be natural to ask them how they are holding up through all the changes.
Give them all the room in the world to let you know if something is upsetting to them. Let them emote. Let them get it all out of their system.
And listen. Listen! Don’t interrupt them. Don’t argue. For God’s sake, make sure they know that you are making a concerted effort to truly understand and appreciate everything they are saying.
And when all the smoke clears, let them know that your love for them hasn’t lessened in the slightest, that they still remain the center of your existence, and seek assistance from them to find out what happens next. They know what they want and need. If any real problem has arisen, there is an intelligent solution right around the corner, and it’s in their hearts and minds. You just need to pull it out of there.
Ask, listen, work toward solutions, and follow through. The stakes are way high. This is your time to shine as a person and a parent.
*Enjoying? Sign up for email updates and never miss a new post again!
*Enjoying my writing? Check out my eBooks!