Investing in your partner is good parenting – Part of 5 of 5 Series I Don’t Know How She Does It20th May 2012 in Balancing Career & Family
We often think that when the focus isn’t directly on our kids that somehow they are losing out. And if they’re old enough to talk, they’ll certainly tell you that that’s the case… When we’re at work and they’re at home, they lose out. When we’re out in the evening at seminar/night class and they’re at home, they’re missing out. It even extends to our relationship with their dad. When we’re spending time with our “other halves” , the kids are missing out. Is this really the case? If you’ve read any of the previous blogs in this five-part series, you’ll know that it’s not. Investing in yourself IS investing in your family. And here’s why investing in your relationship with your partner is also investing in the family.
The kids are happy when the family unit is happy so your relationship with your partner is as important as your direct relationship with your kids. And let’s face it, any partnership or marriage isn’t easy – there’s a lot of things to work through. Also, too much focus directly on the kids can actually be detrimental. (The real world doesn’t work that way – they’re not the centre of the universe and the sooner they learn that the better off they’ll be). Keeping the flame alive has other advantages as well – the kids will eventually grow up and leave home (trust me, it does happen!) so it will be just the two of you again so it’s good practice for the future.
During most of the film I don’t know how she does it, Kate Redding played by Sarah Jessica Parker treats her husband Richard like a second class citizen or worse yet, a totally incompetent carer. He doesn’t seem to have any rights when it comes to taking care of the kids or running the household. I cringed when I heard Kate say “how could you let that women look after MY kids when I was away?” as if to say Richard is not competent enough to make his own decisions.
Kate was referring to Richard’s choice of a back-up carer when the regular babysitter cancelled while Kate was away. The husband evidently gets no say in the matter! Think about your own circumstance. Do you ever treat your other half like he doesn’t have a clue when it comes to anything associated with the kids or house? Is that fair? Have you given him a chance? Have you showed him the “ropes”. Remember, people are people and just like micro-managing people at work, your other half will feel humiliated if you adopt the ‘Ms Dictator’ approach. I’ve tried it – it doesn’t work. In the long run nobody likes Ms Dictator!
Over the years I’ve learned that I’ve got to trust my colleagues and my other half to “run the ship” when I’m not around. They need to feel empowered to make decisions and I need their buy-in on how things are run. Otherwise, when it doesn’t work, it’s all my fault. On the other hand, when I do trust them and listen, better decisions can be made. The road to Super Woman is a dead end – you’ll end up burning yourself out which Kate nearly did too.
Gaining respect for your partner’s parental skills is something you have to work on together. It requires constant communication and discussion on approaches to food preparation, discipline, schooling, and childcare. One of my favorite parts of the film I don’t know how she does it was when Richard shows he can take care of things at home – like sorting out his daughter’s ballerina tights while Kate was on a business trip. He had a wonderful look of pride and satisfaction when he told Kate he had sorted things out. Kate glanced at him lovingly as if to say “yes, you’ve done it and I love you for it”.
But running a really efficient Grand Central Station where each parent is pitching in and all the home logistics are running smoothly isn’t enough. Do you have time for just each other? I really felt sorry for Richard when he announces to Kate that she doesn’t seem to have any time for just him. Couples that play together stay together. What was that common interest that brought you together? What interests have you developed together as a couple? I know it’s a struggle to find the time but it is possible – be creative. Plan it out and get it in the calendar.
My other half and I played basketball together when we first met. Later when the kids started playing tennis, we decided to take lessons and joined a club. Playing tennis for us was really about going back to basics. Both of us have always liked sports and it was part of our relationship from the very beginning. Be prepared for the kids to be jealous of your time together. They will try to make you feel guilty like somehow your short-changing them. Funny isn’t it, some of the best things you can do for your kids are the ones where it’s not about them.