The best possible parenting you can give your children is the security that their parents have a good relationship. Your life is their guidebook and your relationship is a master plan for allegiance, loyalty, conflict resolution and commitment.
As any parent knows, children see and hear everything. Strife frightens them and your happiness as a person and as a couple is calming and reassures them that someone is in charge.
But can you really be both a good parent and a good spouse?
I believe that being both is not only possible, it is synergistic and essential. Marital love and respect helps provide fuel for a generosity of spirit that creates more love, not less.
"If Mama ain't happy..." can be reversed: If Mama (and Dad) are happy, the capacity for rearing children with joy increases. A loving team has immense satisfaction in developing and enjoying the growth of the products of their love. And respect for each other grows when they perceive each other as not only good people but good parents as well.
The secret is balance. Children take time and so does a committed relationship. Doing it well means alone time with your mate, alone time with your children as well as family time for all.
Single parents can provide a similar sense of security (and more of it than a marital battleground) by showing strength in their personal lives and loving relationships. For dating single parents, I recommend they not introduce their date to their children until they believe they have found a keeper and the interest is mutual.
I recommend this for two reasons: It’s unnecessarily unsettling for kids of any age to meet your dates and you don’t want your child’s vote until you’ve exercised your own judgment. If someone is a good match for you, they will need to be a match for your children as well, but by your definition.
Children are our highest responsibility and our world’s future. All children need love, with some adoring thrown in, but an overemphasis — to the detriment and neglect of adult life and love — is too much pressure on any child. This may hinder their development as independent people and is more about parental needs than the needs of children.
To help you be both a good parent and a good spouse, keep these tips in mind:
Sleep as naked and as close as you can
Physical contact is important in any love relationship. It offsets crankiness and contributes to a sense of well being and feeling cherished.
Regularly clear the air alone together
When something bothers you, speak up and suggest an alternate behavior. No one reads minds. Get good at asking for change in a "please pass the salt" tone of voice.
Give the gift of gratitude and appreciation
Let your mate know he or she succeeds at making you happy. Continually rewarding what you like in their behavior will create more of the same. Most of us respond to rewards and will work harder to please people who are easier to please and who express their satisfaction.