Effective Parenting: What?s Your Spouse Got to do With It?

Posted February 11, 2010 by

Don’t grocery shop on an empty stomach and don’t try to parent when you’re having a fight with your spouse. Let me explain what I mean here. Your children have an innate, God-given total selfishness, a me-first drive, that would keep them alive if their plane crashed on a desert island. (I saw that on Lost, so I think maybe it could happen.) It’s good, and it’s natural, and you need to account for it in your parenting.

The number-one deterrent to effective parenting is parents who lack support from their spouse — because, when you parent effectively and set limits, your children will punish you emotionally. They will act out, withdraw their love, slam the door, give you sullen looks, cry, etc. This is just their natural sense of entitlement coming out — the one that would keep them alive on that desert island — and thank God for it.

But you can’t let it knock you off track, and you need someone to hide out with when the kids are filling the house with their negativity. Even if you ask them to go to their rooms, which we do in our house (our standard line is “Crying is fine, but it brings the rest of us down, so you can go to your room until you feel cheerful again.), you as a parent are still feeling sad and mean because you caused them pain.

The biggest deterrent to effective parenting is the lack of a good, strong marriage, where you know your spouse is your best friend and partner in crime. It makes you WAY too vulnerable to doing what you know you shouldn’t, so that your kids don’t withdraw their love. (Parents need love too!!) So keep your partnership as strong as you can, make it a priority, and if it’s a bad one that impacts your ability to parent, consider ending it. Yeah, I said it. Kemuel and I raised our three children after divorces, and it was a blessing. The most important thing is that you are not being drained by your partner on a daily basis. And if you are, change your situation.

So if you’re fortunate enough to have someone good to raise your child with, thank your lucky stars. Go to them now, and say, Thank you for choosing to be with me today. My husband Kemuel and I say that to each other almost every day. We can both support ourselves alone, financially and emotionally — so being together is a choice we make every day. And when you have someone you can laugh and cry with when your kid is responding to your parenting in their natural, God-given way, you’re 90% of the way to being the best parent possible.

WHO SUPPORTS YOU IN BEING A STRONGER PARENT?

Appreciate the people in your lives who support good parenting, and thank them! Spend more time with them! As Jackie Kennedy once said, If you don’t get raising your children right, nothing else really matters.

About

Linda Falcao is a mother, attorney, founder of the youth volunteer organization www.americaserves.net and parent blogger for EP.

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