By: Cristina Trette, MA, LMFT
Parenting is one of the most challenging endeavors we take on as humans. Being responsible for the survival of our young is no easy task. Beyond this, most parents aim to see their children go far beyond just survival. We want our children to thrive. It is easy to get distracted by all the parenting approaches out there that promise well-behaved and happy kids. Yet, as a therapist that specializes in working with parents, couples, and families, I can assure you that creating quality relationships is the best parenting approach I know of. Keep reading to learn more about how your relationships lead to great parenting.
1. The Relationship With Your Partner
Brand new parents tend to be consumed with their newborns. Every ounce of energy goes toward ensuring their baby is surviving and thriving. In a child's first year of life, it is normal for parents to focus most of their time on their child. Newborns and babies are completely dependent on their parents for survival and the bonding period between parent and child is critical. This being said, it is also vital that parents maintain their bond with each other.
The relationship parents have with each other sets the foundation for all other relationships in the family. When parents model a relationship of love, respect, partnership, and the ability to work through problems constructively, children grow up experiencing what healthy relationships look and feel like. Simply put, secure love relationships are good for parents and children.
2. The Relationship With Your Self
Getting to know yourself, treating yourself with love, and caring e for your physical and psychological well-being is of utmost importance. We all know to put on our oxygen mask first, yet for many parents this is easier said than done. Many things can get in the way of parents focusing on the relationship with themselves. Whether this is an endless to do list, lack of childcare, harsh self talk, or internal blocks, many parents do not take good care of themselves.
I promise you that the time you spend caring for yourself will make it more likely that every other aspect of your life will improve. If you are not taking time for loving yourself, find a way to make it a priority. Every parent will discover what it is that work for them and their life in terms of self care.
3. The Relationship With Your Child
The day to day life of parenting can become mundane. Yet if we consider the relational aspect of parenting, then it becomes easier to view our time with our children as time spent building our relationships with them. Soothing cries, feeding, middle of the night wake ups, diapers, doctor visits, driving - every single task we do with our children can be a part of relationship building.
Extending connection goes a long way. We can connect with our kids through holding them, snuggles, warm eye contact, laughter, and play. We can also connect with them by responding to them when they reach for us. When parents emphasize the creation of a safe haven and secure base for their children, this establishes an internal working model of relationships that your child will draw from throughout their life.
Hello! I am Cristina Trette. I am a Couples Therapist, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, and Certified in Perinatal Mental Health. I write on all things related to relationships, parenthood, and connection.