By Presence Editors
Couples are often unaware and unprepared for the physical strain as well as the psychological and emotional toll that takes place when a child comes into the family. The bundle of joy poses challenges as well as opportunities for growth. The following seven tips may help those couples who are transitioning to parenthood adjust to the changes.
1. Create a Nurturing Environment
According to Ericson’s social developmental stages, the goal of the first year of life is to build trust. The newborn child is totally dependent on the caretakers to provide consistent nurture. Ideally, the parents are the baby’s caretakers. Otherwise, the parents must exercise care in finding someone who can consistently provide a safe and positive environment to nurture the newborn.
2. Invest in Your Marriage
Many studies have found that marital relationships deteriorate with the arrival of children. New parents need to be aware of this and not to allow the responsibilities of a new child to erode the health of their marital relationship or their own personal needs.
3. Invest in the Parent-Child Relationship
The ability of parents to influence their child’s belief system as their grow older depends on the strength of the parent-child relationship. The stronger the bonding, the more assured the child is of their parents’ love, and the more likely the child will listen to the parents and learn from their modeling.
4. Set Boundaries with Grandparents
One of the strengths of Asian families is that they can lean on their parents or in-laws to lend a helping hand. However, grandparents can sometimes become overly involved and contribute to their son and daughter’s marital discord. To avoid conflicts between grandparents and new parents, new parents should consider finding ways to express their expectations and establish boundaries with their own parents as to what forms of help are desired and needed. This will help build harmonious relationships among the three generations.
5. Maintain “Flexibility” and “Adaptability”
Professor Forma Walsh pointed out that all families face serious challenges over the course of their lifetime (2006). Parents can grow resilience by adopting a “flexible” and “adaptive” stance toward challenges. Walsh suggests parents can be more flexible in terms of their roles instead of insisting on the “traditional” role of men as the breadwinner and women as the homemaker. Each couple should adapt according to their circumstances, personalities, and resources.
6. Build Family Rituals
Rituals are an important aspect of building family life. Intentionally building meaningful and fun family traditions go a long way toward building stable, resilient and thriving families. Some examples include but are not limited to family vacations, regular attendance at church, visiting parents and in-laws, or simple routine visits to local libraries.
7. Maintain a Strong Social Network
Having people who can come alongside you to give encouragement, advice and emotional support, and even to babysit your child, can give balance and sanity to new parents. Family, friends, and the church are important networks that can help inexperienced parents make that transition from a couple to a couple with kids that much more smoother.
Adapted from Presence Family Magazine, May 2012, 4th Issue
Presence regularly hosts parenting seminars and workshops to help individuals and families build strong, healthy relationships in order to bring up the next generation. For more information about our ministry and events, please visit our web site.