How-to Series: Preparing to Parent as a Team
Contributed By Denya Palmer, Church News contributor
From a young age, many people hope and plan for marriage and parenthood. Many studies report the benefits of marriage and family life: people with healthy family relationships tend to live longer, gain more education, and are generally happier. However, as wonderful and worthwhile as marriage and family life is, it can present some difficult challenges, including knowing how to parent.
Whether you are preparing for or are in the midst of marriage and a family, the “How To” YouTube channel has helpful tips for you to consider as you navigate the waters of parenting.
You and your spouse may have differing opinions on parenting, such as rules around curfew or media use, how to discipline, or even which family traditions to implement during the holidays. It can be difficult to come to a consensus on how to raise a family. Additionally, each child is unique and has an individual personality, needs, and challenges. Because of this, even experienced parents may struggle with parenting. Whatever the challenges you and your spouse face in parenting, it’s important to parent as a team.
Creating a united front
As two people from different backgrounds come together in a marriage, they may have different habits, routines, perspectives, and opinions. Parenting as a team means discussing differences and creating a united front.
In “How to—Be a Team in Marriage and Parenting,” experts provide some suggestions on becoming more united as parents. Professor Erin Holmes feels it’s important to let your spouse know you appreciate them at the end of a long day. Being able say “I’m grateful for your help” or “I’m glad we can work together on this” goes a long way. Expressing appreciation helps both spouses grow closer and feel hopeful and motivated.
Parenting as a team means discussing differences and creating a united front.
Professor Loren Marks extols the virtues of perseverance and commitment in family life. After a hard day, he says we should “start by getting up the next morning and trying it again.” Life will never be perfect, but we can find joy by doing our best each day and not being too hard on ourselves when things aren’t going as smoothly as we’d like.
Part of being a parenting team is helping each other meet the demands of work life, home life, and other duties. When we try to balance all these needs, we might end up feeling like we’re failing at everything. In the video “How to—Achieve Balance between Work Life and Family Life,” Holmes suggests that it’s better to seek for harmony rather than balance.
Sometimes in order to make really great music, you’re going to have these periods of dissonance,” she says. “And other times you’re going to have these perfect melodic phrases. … There are times when I have heavy demands at work, times when I have heavy demands at home, and sometimes I just have to recognize that’s going be how life is and it’s OK. It’s OK for some of that dissonance sometimes. It’s OK when things aren’t perfectly balanced. It doesn’t mean I’m doing something wrong.”
As we discuss the demands of life with our spouses, we can work together to accomplish what we need to do. Being aware of where we are spending our time and energy and where we are needed can help us stay in harmony and make adjustments when needed.
Preparing for parenting
Becoming a team takes time and hard work. Even if you’re not currently married or a parent, you can start preparing now to partner with your spouse and face the challenges ahead.
We can prepare by taking steps to better ourselves individually. One young adult suggests asking ourselves the question “What can I do to be the best version of myself?” rather than focusing on the flaws of others. (See more tips about improving yourself in “How to—Prepare for Marriage and Parenting: It’s Personal.”)
As newlyweds or engaged couples, it’s important to start talking about parenting decisions that need to be made in the future. You don’t have to wait until you have kids to begin learning about parenting styles and practicing good parenting skills. A good place to start is by seeking to understand your spouse and his or her family background and history.
In the video “How to—Align Different Parenting Styles in Five Helpful Steps,” a father shares some tips he and his wife learned that you can start implementing now to avoid problems down the road.
Families can look very different from each other. While much of the advice in this article is catered toward a home with two parents present, many of the principles can be adapted to apply to single-parent homes, grandparents raising grandchildren, situations of divorce, or other circumstances.
Visit the “How To” channel for more videos on being a better parent, preparing for parenthood, and raising a family.