It Really Does Take a VillageFeb 15, 2023
Designing Your Parenting Relationship With Your Support System
As an expectant parent, there are endless lists of things to do before baby makes their debut. Items to buy, plans to be made, names to choose, the list goes on and on. With so much happening at once, it is easy to forget the most important thing you need to do: design (and redesign) your relationships with the most important people in your life.
These relationships serve as the foundation for support and comfort during a happy yet stressful transition period in your life. There are three main types of relationships that benefit from planning and purposeful communication:
- Your Partner / Co-Parent: The person you will be raising your child with and who will share the duties of childcare, household chores, and parenting philosophy.
- Your Extended Support System: Family and friends who are close to you and will offer emotional and tactical support, such as childcare.
- Colleagues and Manager: If you are working, these relationships will be critical to support you as you become a new parent. The amount of information and planning will be dictated in part by your decision of whether you will return to work or stay home.
In each of these groups there are some basic communication skills that will create clarity, alignment and, most importantly, limit frustration and disappointment.
Assumptions: This is the belief that you know how the other person will behave, react, feel, or want. When we make assumptions, we often make up stories about the other person without opening the channels of communication to ask.
Communication skill: Ask questions and deeply listen to the response with the intent to understand.
Expectations: Expectations are one of the most challenging parts of relationships. We all have expectations about almost everything, and sometimes we aren’t even aware of them until they are not met. We often have strong ideas about what should occur or how we believe someone else should behave or feel in a given context or situation.
Communication skill: Create transparency about your expectations and how you would like to see things go. Think critically about whether an expectation you have is reasonable and realistic.
Perspective: This is our point of view and is deeply connected to our identity based on our experiences. To connect with the people around us, we need to understand that first, they have their own perspective and second, that it is valuable and should be treated with respect, even when there are disagreements around a specific area or topic.
Communication skill: Take time to understand where the other party is coming from.
With your partner, consider the parts of your individual upbringing that you want to emulate for your children. What parts do you want to do differently?
For colleagues and managers, what does this change mean for them? How can you help make it as smooth as possible?
As with any strong relationship, these conversations are ongoing. Circumstances will continue to change and the ability to create transparency and respect in your relationships will be your superpower to minimize misunderstandings, conflict, and hurt feelings.
Want to learn more about building and maintaining strong relationships during this major life transition? Check out Bold Parents, a self-paced coaching program to support working parents through the transition to parenthood.