When I was young, I thought that because my parents loved me, that was simply enough.
That their main job in life, aside from providing basic needs of security and food, was to love me.
Yet I didn’t understand then what I have come to understand more recently, that looking after your children and loving your children is not the same as creating a stable, loving, family environment for them.
What I’m really talking about is relationships / marriage / partnership and how we do this as parents of children at any age (single parents can contemplate the following ideas so if you are separated or doing it alone, please read on).
You see I discovered recently that just because I’m a good mother, doesn’t mean I’m a good wife. And being a good wife is not the same as being a good mother.
And this caused me to question the notion that I’d accumulated in my earlier years – that the marital relationship was less important than the loving relationship a parent has with their child. Truthfully there was a time where I thought loving and providing for my child was enough. But now I think that because I want him to have a living example of family that is happy, healthy and well balanced, that we as his parents choose to be together, stay together and continue to STRIVE to have a quality relationship for him, as much as for ourselves.
Maybe the most important thing a mother can do is not just love her child, but create a loving, stable family environment, which includes having a healthy relationship with her husband/ partner / spouse.
Now granted, most of us know this is rarely easy, but of us; my husband and I, we continue to work on any challenges that have arisen over the years. And while this is an ongoing process the benefits it yield in our relationship also provides real results though a happier atmosphere at home. I also notice that as we become better as a couple, more loving and open, more forgiving and fun, more playful with each other, we continue to get more on the same page as parents as we communicate more easily, clearly or patiently with each other about what is important in parenting, and through doing that we also become better parents.
And I really believe all of that is incredibly important for our children, yet so many people underestimate how much. For as we learn to prioritise our relationship above being parents, at least sometimes, we are better people, better parents and better role models for our children.
Because really, how can we ever hope for our children to have happy healthy relationships between men and women, if we can’t sort this out ourselves???
You know the old saying “monkey see, monkey do”, well that applies to our children just as much as it does for the monkeys!
We all know this is some way, but let me explain more fully. The way the human mind works, it cannot easily form images, ideas and associations of a healthy marriage if that has NEVER been observed in our early years. It can still happen yes, but in all likelihood – our children will simply go on and replicate the same marriage patterns they saw day in day out – modelled by us, and they will do this purely by default.
Take a moment to consider your relationship now – and what similarities there are from your parents / your partner’s parents. Often the things we notice or dislike about our parents relationship are easily repeated in the next generation, unless a conscious choice is made to change them.
Which brings me back to putting your relationship first – instead of always putting the kids first. To be honest, for a long time that is what I’ve done – put my child first. And while that my be a relevant priority for a breastfeeding infant, by 3 years of age a little mum and dad time is highly beneficial with little or no negative impacts upon the children.
So lets imagine, we have just spent years “being parents” and always putting that before nearly everything else, because let’s face it, if you have a child it seems common that most of us think “now I’m a parent, my children are my sole purpose for existing”. But as I began to question this notion I also began to wonder – what was my purpose for existing before I was a mother? Was it all about me? Or my husband? Or my close friends? These things are all still important to me, but does the mere fact that I’m a parent need to changing these priorities so much, and for such a long time that it does other damage to our marriage?
I’m not so sure anymore.
I understand there’s a biological change that happens during parenthood – I’ve been through it myself – but I also now KNOW IN MY HEART that to be a really good mother, I also need to model for my son what a healthy relationship looks like.
To be a living waking breathing example of what a healthy relationship with a male human being looks like, because I know (based on what I know about people) that its nearly impossible for our son to create a healthy relationship in his future, with the woman/ person he chooses to be with, if he doesn’t see any of that ‘modelled’ through his day to day experience with his parents.
Therefore, if we can’t get our stuff sorted in our marriage, then he has almost very little chance of doing anything except the same things he learns from us.
We have therefore decided to make regular ongoing efforts to prioritise each other just as much as we prioritise our son. And that means to not use him as an excuse to not look after each other or make time for each other. To instead time for each other more often in more profound ways – like we once did in our relationship. And I’m not just talking about date night. I’m talking about a deeper priority.
As this blog has become rather lengthy – I’ve continued it in part two which you can read here.
About the author
Bree Taylor Molyneaux is a Brisbane based women’s self-care + happiness coach specialising in fertility, pregnancy + birth, motherhood + beyond. She is trained a HypnoBirthing® practitioner + personal renewal facilitator with is passion for helping women bring more self-care into daily life. Bree coaches women across a wide range of areas, runs restorative + self-care retreats, and has a range of and hypnosis downloads available on iTunes. Read more about Bree here.