I sent this article to Gabe last week and I found it absolutely fantastic. One of the best parts about it were the comments and all of the readers who were offended by it and did the classic defense phrase, “Just don’t have kids then if you can’t put them first!” Wait, so I should treat my kid like royalty and turn him into a selfish jerk who thinks he’s the center of everyone’s world or just not procreate? I love it. Here’s the article:
You see, I AM that parent that the defensive reader is telling not to have kids to. I don’t think it’s best that I put them first at all times and make them feel that they are the center of the universe and we should all just stop what we are doing while they interrupt us so that they can tell us how they absolutely need that new wrestler or whatever. Screw what we were in the middle of, right? Nope. My friend who I haven’t seen in a billion years who is visiting from out of state will surely understand that she is being put on hold while telling me about her infertility struggles so that my kid can complain that he doesn’t like his food, right? I feel like some parents really don’t understand that by putting their kid first at all times and everyone else on hold, and essentially, on their kids’ schedule, they are being rude themselves.
So, being the great partner that I am, I went ahead and read this article, point by point to him. FYI, these are all situations that he and I have discussed before. Herrrrrreeee we go…..
- The couples’ free time was being all consumed with the kids and their social lives. i.e. skipping dinner together because we can NEVER say no to one of the kids activities or events, that would make us look like bad parents, right?
- The couples’ relationship coming in last on the priority list due to the childrens’ demands. i.e. Can’t go out to dinner together without the kids because the kids will throw a fit about being left behind with a sitter.
- Not sleeping together because the kids have gotten into the habit of sleeping in the parents’ bed, so it’s just easier to sleep in another room than to put up a fight and end things badly with the little angels.
The reasons for allowing these things include:
- It makes things easier in the short term. (Better than having a full on fight before bedtime)
- Guilt parenting. Divorced, widowed, married but can’t buy your kid enough stuff. Kids can sniff this stuff out.
- Wanting to be liked, losing your kids’ friendship. I don’t know why but I have pissed my kids off so many times but magically, they still like me.
Lastly, here is how the psychologist says to, “Roll up the red carpet and take back your marriage”:
1. Put your children last. Prioritizing your partner over your children is good for your marriage and your kids. Of course, there will be exceptions – if the children are ill, or their first day at school and so on, but otherwise make sure you and your partner go out for dinner together, send the kids to bed early, do things the two of you love to do together. A happy marriage makes happy children.
2. Be a ‘good enough’ parent. Accept you’re not perfect, that every parent makes mistakes and it’s not the end of the world if you send your child to school in a hastily cobbled-together costume for the school play.
3. Recognize Your Needs. I have met many mothers and fathers who, after years of downgrading their own needs, felt ‘entitled to do something for myself for once’ – and had an affair. Always putting your children first can cause resentment to rebound in extraordinary acts of selfishness. Have a good think about what YOU want and need in your relationship and family life – and make sure you get it.
4. Talk. Make sure you talk through your problems – don’t silently hope they’ll go away. Problems fester if you don’t get them out in the open.
5. Put a lock on your bedroom door. You wouldn’t barge into a teenager’s bedroom unannounced, so don’t let your children do it to you. Give yourself some privacy as a couple – they can always shout ‘Fire!’ if they’re in trouble.
6. Greet your partner first when he or she walks through the door – not your children. It shows how important they are to you.
7. Don’t let your children interrupt when you are talking to each other.
8. Make unilateral decisions about your children. Parent as a team and don’t compete for popularity with your children.
9. Prioritize sex. Intimacy keeps a relationship alive. Send the children to the grandparents for the night. It’s important.
10. Make the children responsible for tasks around the house, so there’s more time for you to be partners rather than servants.