Relationship Advice for New Parents: Discuss Your Child-Rearing Styles

July 30, 2012 by

If I could offer any relationship advice to couples before their first child is born, it would be to talk to each other about what kind of parents they want to be. Too many people simply assume that their spouse will have the same values as they do, and end up shocked when they discover this not to be the case – I see this all the time at my Portland marriage counselor practice!

The only way to know for sure how your spouse is planning to raise your child is to talk to him or her about it, and I highly recommend you do this ahead of time. Why? Because it’s a lot easier to be calm about the fact that he doesn’t think it’s a big deal to curse around your 2-year-old, or that she’s completely on board with giving your preschooler pierced ears, when it’s just a concept and not a reality.

Relationship Advice: Asking About Child-Rearing Requires the Right Questions

One tough thing about discussing this topic is that many of us, if we’re simply asked what our child-rearing philosophy is, probably wouldn’t know what to say. In order to get to the heart of this conversation, you’ve got to have the right questions going in.

As a Portland marriage counselor, I can tell you that most of us who haven’t put a lot of thought into how we plan to raise our children tend to follow the methods that our parents used to raise us. Frightening as that might sound to some, most people turn out okay – you did, right? It does, however, provide insight on one of the best ways to learn what thoughts your partner has about child-rearing, as well as learning your own if you feel unsure.

Here are just a few questions to get you started:

  1. When you were a baby, what was your mother like with you? Your father? Did anyone else take care of you?
  2. What did you like about how you were brought up? What did you dislike?
  3. What are the ways in which you want to be like your mother? Your father?
  4. What are things that you want to do differently?
  5. What values do you want your child to have?

A bit of relationship advice: child-rearing is one of the most sensitive topics you can talk about. If you are particularly horrified by something your spouse wants to do, remain calm. You are far better off if you can take a breath and offer an alternative suggestion and a reason for not wanting to do that thing than simply saying no.

If you and your spouse need further relationship advice on this, I recommend talking to a Portland marriage counselor.