“Take care of yourselves first, your adult relationships second, your children third because, in that way, you do your best work with your children.”
-Aaron Huey, co-founder of Fire Mountain Residential Treatment Center
When we have a child with problematic issues, like addiction, promiscuity, running away, or other concerns, we might unintentionally put our parenting partner on the “back burner.” We might become so burnt out or exhausted in dealing with our child that our relationship with our parenting partner takes a back seat. Aaron Huey of Fire Mountain reminds parents to care for themselves first and their adult relationships second. When we care for ourselves and our parenting partner, we can have the strength and support needed to help our children in their recovery.
“Shouldn’t I Put My Child First?”
Parents might struggle with feeling selfish when they are not putting their kids first. They might think that everything else in their lives is unimportant compared to their child’s needs or problems. The idea of putting ourselves and our partner ahead of our child is not about neglecting our child when they need us. The idea is to find a balance, so we have strength when caring for our family and our child.
By making our needs a priority, we can have the resources and energy needed to care for others. We cannot help others when we are neglecting our health and wellness. When we are stressed and drained, we cannot work with our children effectively. We might be too tired or mentally exhausted to deal with issues with our best judgment and decision-making skills intact.
We Also Need Support
To best help our kids, we might also need support as we deal with our emotions in response to our child’s behavior. We might need help from our parenting partner to team up with when our child is going through a crisis. Nurturing our parenting partner relationship can help to keep us refreshed during our lives. Our parenting partner might be our first and immediate source of support not only for our kid’s issues but for our emotional response to the family crisis.
Having Emotional Access to Your Life
Jayson Gaddis, the founder of The Relationship School, discusses the importance of having “emotional access” to our lives when raising children. When we can be vulnerable around another person when dealing with problematic issues, we can open up and deal with our emotions. With our parenting partner’s help, we can access our emotions and prevent those feelings from leaking through as we handle problems with our children. With access and acknowledgment of our emotions, we can remain rational and create effective boundaries with our kids.
Prioritizing Our Relationships
Remaining consistent with our partner will help maintain a healthy connection. We might need to go out of our way to set aside time for our partner. When dealing with stress at home due to a teenager or child with issues, we might feel like we have no time for a “date night” with our partner. However, by scheduling time with our partner and adhering to a schedule, we can foster this meaningful relationship.
When spending time with your parenting partner on a “date night” or other focused time with them, remember to be attentive to one another. Keep the following tips in mind:
- Make it a rule not to talk about the problems with your child.
- The date night is about one another and your partnership.
- Make eye contact and use active-listening practices to engage in conversation.
- Be willing to risk vulnerability and express emotions.
- Express the good qualities that you see in your partner.
Whatever you do to spend time with your partner, be sure that you are not allowing stress at home to get in the way of this valuable relationship. When we neglect our parenting partner, we might see our romantic connection deteriorate, which will only add to our stress and issues. By being present with our parenting partner, we can keep this connection healthy and ensure that the other person “has our back” when dealing with the current family crisis.
Be There for Yourself
Again, the key to developing and maintaining any relationship with another–whether with your kid or partner–is to care for your needs first. If you do not care for yourself first, you might be so overwhelmed and detached that you eventually neglect all other relationships in your life. By caring for yourself first, you can have the resiliency and strength that others will depend on throughout the crisis.
Supporting our parenting partner when we have a child struggling with severe behaviors and other issues can be challenging. We might think that we need to put our romantic needs or partnership on the “back burner” as we put our kid’s needs first. However, we need to remember that our parenting partner relationship is precious to our lives. If we neglect this relationship, we might create more issues down the road as we tend to the current family crisis. By making time for our partner that is scheduled and consistent, we can ensure that we do not neglect one another. When our kids struggle and seem beyond our help, residential treatment might be the next right step. Fire Mountain Residential Treatment Center can help you with your child’s current crisis while also teaching you the skills needed to maintain their recovery at home. Call us today at (303) 443-3343. We’re here to help your family’s fire burn brightest!