Did you know that becoming a better parent makes you a better relationship partner? And becoming a better relationship partner makes you a better parent? I have given talks on parenting and relationships for many years. I recently found a talk I've given to parents at an L.A. parenting symposium. I'd like to share some of the ways you can become a better parent/partner.
1) Self-soothe: We need to be able to show our kids we can manage our emotions. It's normal of course to have strong emotions but how we handle ourselves is key. Your kids are watching to see what you do with anger, sadness, fear, anxiety, etc. What coping skills do you use to calm yourself down and metabolize your feelings? Three should come to mind quickly (drinking and watching T.V. don't count) because you should be in the habit of using these 3 coping skills regularly.
2) Resolve unresolved issues/cutoff relationships: Murry Bowen, a genius in the field of family therapy, suggests we "go home and fight with our families" to try and resolve cutoffs and conflicts. Literally and figuratively. If you tackle unresolved issues head-on then they can't sneak up on you to sabotage other relationships (like with your child or your partner). Some cutoff relationships can't be fixed but make sure you have spent ample time exploring how this cutoff has impacted you. Therapy is a great place to do this. You don't want old, unresolved cutoffs or issues to negatively impact current relationships. Remember, moving away from a bad relationship doesn't mean the problems that existed disappeared.
3) Spirituality and Creating Meaning: Having a sense of spirituality, a faith you practice, praying or meditating is essential in our ability to cope with the dilemmas life likes to throw our way. I'm using "spirituality" in the broader sense to be inclusive. However you derive a sense of purpose and meaning in your life is what matters. This can be the glue that bonds a couple together. Having a sense of purpose in life makes us happy and happy people make better parents and partners.
These are only 3 of the 10 ways to become a better parent or partner. I will share the others in future posts.
May your holiday be filled with gratitude! Dr. Sandoval