Did you have a parenting plan when you knew you were going to have children? Did you and your partner talk about how you might bring up children as you started to settle down? There are countless articles on what people should discuss before getting married or choosing to spend their lives together. Issues like money are often found on that list but planning on how to be a good parent to your kids if you intend to have them is rarely on that list. Fundamentally, you and your partner should agree on how the responsibility should be split and your core beliefs on how a child should be raised.
“Good parenting requires that parents be attuned to the needs of a child and interact in a way that validates the child’s positive sense of self, soothes and protects the child from overwhelming stimuli, and challenges and encourages the child’s developing coping capacities,” writes James A. Chu, MD, Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and author of Rebuilding Shattered Lives. In similar situations, will you and your partner do the same thing? On a Sunday morning, will your child watch TV so you can read the paper and sleep in, or will you want to go for a bike ride together or take them to soccer practice?
Parenting is serious business. A child is entrusted to you and your partner to be taken care of into adulthood. Responsibility is placed on you both to raise a well-rounded individual and create a healthy environment for them to thrive. When parents fail to approach parenting as a team effort that requires planning and agreement, it often leads to a dysfunctional system that affects the child’s upbringing and mental health. Hence, parents need to agree on what system works for them and benefits the child. Planning for parenting is a bit like preparing for a self-sponsored vacation to a new country. Preparation will involve reading about your place of vacation, researching costs, saving money, deciding your activities during your stay, etc. You may have to attend parenting classes, talk to other parents, sort your finances, etc. Planning can help prevent resentments, unnecessary disagreements, and the general strain childbirth tends to put on relationships. There are also more delicate questions about who’s career will be put on hold and how much free time each parent should have each week? Do you agree if they should go to nursery, for how many days?
What Is Important in Parenting?
If parents are to prepare to be good parents, it’s essential to have a clear picture of what good parenting is to you both. To put it simply, good parenting aims to prepare a child to be a well-rounded, independent adult in the future while giving the child a true sense of control in the present through consistency and routine. There are, however, a range of different ways to get to this point.
Good parenting is nuanced and flexible and will change as you get to know your child. Are they confident or arrogant, or do they need help with resilience? Good parenting fosters curiosity, growth mindset, and favors consequence over punishment or tongue lashing. To be good parents, parents will have to find a delicate balance between nurturing and firmness. If placed in the same situation, will both you and your partner be consistent? So as well as deciding certain details, there needs to be an understanding of your general parenting style. Hands on or hands off? You will also need to talk about how your upbringings might affect your opinions.
What Are the Things To Consider When Planning for Parenting?
The routine and sometimes relentless nature of parenting are what makes it particularly challenging. Obvious tasks like bathing, clothing, or feeding the baby are not exactly easy, but there’s more to watch out for. The real test of parenting is in the fact that your baby will require constant care every single day. And you have to provide it while also dealing with the demands of your own life. That ultimately requires so much time, stamina, and patience. This is why parenting needs a plan before the baby’s arrival—and a joint one if you have a partner. And if you and the other parent are separated there is more advice here on how to manage this to make sure the child is in the centre of decisions. If not, it can cause great resentment, and possible unintentional abuse, if one partner’s and the child’s needs are not met by the other.
Here are some positive parenting tips to help you create a parenting plan:
- Decide on your parenting philosophy. Even before your child arrives, you should decide your parenting philosophy. You may not be able to account for every part of it as you’ll have to adjust on the job as the child ages. But it is crucial to have a philosophy in mind to guide you generally. This would be a good time to look back on how your parents raised you to understand some of the pitfalls not to repeat. (The effect of your childhood on your parenting). If you are going into parenting with a partner, sit down with them and try to understand their philosophy. This would help avoid situations where both of you disagree on how to handle the child. If this is something you think you both can’t handle alone, decide if you want to see a therapist or attend classes.
- Find ways to put money back. With the arrival of a new baby, your finances may experience some strain due to your work schedule adjustments. Starting to plan early allows you to put money back to make things easier should you take maternal or paternal leave. Finance is usually a hot button topic among couples. Pre-children, this is not usually an issue, but children are more expensive than anyone thinks, and if one partner is on parenting leave, can the other go on a costly weekend away with friends? And a financial strain after childbirth can easily extend to your relationship itself. But with a cash reserve to dip into, unexpected expenses can easily be taken care of.
- Expectations and responsibilities. This is especially for couples or those co-parenting. Deciding on expectations and responsibilities would help avoid disagreements or resentment. Does your partner expect responsibility to be split down the middle, or do they expect you to do more for some reason? Will your partner take a leave from work to be more hands-on? Are there things you do for each other or together that may need to take a back seat? Some questions may make you feel like you’re overly fussy, but it’s probably important to talk about it if it comes to mind. The arrival of a child comes with serious stress, so better to be over-prepared than under-prepared.
- Decide on a support system. You and your partner need to decide if you need a support system taking your work and finances into account. Parenting is just easier with a support system. Support can be a nanny, sitter, family, or professional resources. At this point, you need to talk it out with your partner to know what they are comfortable with. Are they okay with hiring a nanny or a sitter? What about a family member? Do they prefer making more time so that they can be more available? What kind of resources will you both resort to for parenting advice or guidance?
- Talk about the boundaries to establish. Childbirth is a happy occasion bound to attract friends and well-wishers in the first few days. Let your partner know how you feel about this and hear their side too. How do you hope to handle these visits? What kind of boundaries do you want to establish? From there, are you happy to go on all holidays with their family? Are you sure they are not expecting that? How about Christmas days?
For new parents, another vital conversation you may need to have is your alone time. It is entirely normal for you to need space. Discussing this with your partner helps ensure that there are no misunderstandings. That you need space or feel wrung out, and blue is not a reflection of your feelings toward your partner. If a bike ride or socialising is important to you, talk about now how both partners can get what they need without it being at the expense of the other. It is pointless trying to keep score, but it might be as simple as you both have two half-days/evenings to do what you want a week. If one partner chooses to lie in bed, that is fine, if the other wants to train for a marathon that is also fine. The reason that many relationships break down is due to resentment manifesting itself as these things are not talked about.
How Do We Organize Our Parenting Plan?
Once in a while, you might find yourself disagreeing with your partner on parenting your child. It’s not unusual. But it would be best if you handled it well without fracturing things further.
- Always keep a unified front. This is a common parenting mistake. Unless in extreme circumstances, try not to throw your partner under the bus even if you disagree with their method in that particular moment. You can always talk things out later between the both of you. A united front in front of your child keeps both your authority intact. A divided front gives your child a loophole to exploit. When one parent doesn’t give them what they want, they can habitually go to the other parent they perceive as softer. In particular it might be that one parent does the majority of the parenting. The other must support them by making sure that they are not undermining systems that might be in place to get everyone out the door in the morning!
- Concentrate on the matter at hand. Fighting with your partner on something about your child shifts the focus from the child to yourselves. When this happens, your child escapes accountability. And without accountability, the child’s behavior wouldn’t change. What’s more, fighting can cause your child to withdraw and isolate themself.
- Let your partner lead if they feel strongly about a particular issue. Sometimes you and your partner can get stuck on an issue about your child with no solution in sight. In situations like that, let the parent who feels very strongly about the issue prevail as long as it’s not harmful to the child. Remember, your goal is not to be right but to jointly parent your child effectively. Do be careful not to set a precedent that one parent ‘always knows best.’ It will only course resentment and be very damaging long term. However, some partnerships have a solid basis as they agree that one will work and leave all the parenting to the other. They then have to make sure they don’t helicopter in.
Tips on How To Plan To Become the Best Parents You Can Be
So you want to be the best parent you can? That’s awesome if you and your partner agree on what that looks like. The first thing you need to know is that there’s no clear-cut way of being a parent. It involves learning and adapting along the way. Here are a few bits of parenting advice to help you practice better parenting method. Take your time to browse this site however as there are plenty more on here:
- Be present. There’s a difference between merely existing in your child’s life and being present. To be really present, you have to be involved in your child’s life practically. If you can, go out of your way to eat breakfast with them in the morning, even if it’s not convenient, pick them up from school, help them with homework, and attend their games. See more about the importance of this here.
- Be flexible with your parenting techniques. As your child develops physically and psychologically, try to be flexible and adjust. Recognize when your child has earned some independence and act accordingly. Avoid thinking in absolutes. This keeps you positive enough to provide encouragement instead of criticism when your child’s development stalls in any way.
- Allow your child room for mistakes. As long as that mistake isn’t immediately harmful, allow your child to make it instead of stepping in every time. Always stepping in might create over-reliance, which isn’t ideal for the independent adult you’re trying to raise. Mistakes present your child the chance to learn.
- Never forget that you’re your child’s role model. Children are incredibly intuitive. Your child watches what you do more than they listen to what you say. It may not feel like it, but the child notices how you react to different situations, how you talk to others, how you handle stress. This can be an effective teaching tool you can use to pass behaviors you want your child to cultivate. However, are you and your partner sending mixed messages? Are you showing them a healthy relationship? According to a study led by Julia A. Leonard, MindCore postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pennsylvania, children tried harder after seeing adults succeed than after they saw them fail at a task. Also, talking about the effort brings even more reward. The same research showed that persistence was even higher when adults put effort into their task, succeeded, and talked about the value of making that effort.
- Check what’s causing bad behavior. It’s more helpful to check what’s causing bad behavior in your child instead of reacting to the behavior itself. Figuring out what’s behind can help you come up with a more lasting solution. This saves you both the stress your relationship might experience from merely reacting. Being able to talk to your child is essential as they get older. Do you agree on how to do this?
Final Thoughts on a Parenting Plan
Though you’ve tried to jointly construct the framework of a parent plan and are trying your best, there are days you will make mistakes or feel completely overwhelmed. You may even question if you even know what you’re doing. Always remember to be kind to yourself. Nobody has figured out a completely foolproof way for better parenting. On days you feel overwhelmed, talk to your friends who are parents. Just hearing that they too make mistakes can boost your confidence a great deal. In the military they say a plan only exists till first contact with the enemy! Rather than fine detail you and your partner are looking to talk about general themes and styles. Maybe look through this site together to see if you share opinions on issues. New issues will always come up that can’t be predicted, but are you on the same page as to what is important? If you want to see how others do it, here we look at celebrity parenting styles.