Family Life Cycle - Parenting: Babies Through Adolescents
Making the decision to have a baby
At some point
in your relationship, you and your partner will decide if you want to have a baby.
Some couples know going into a relationship that they do not want children.
Parenting is one of the most challenging phases of the
family life cycle.
The decision to have
children is one that affects your individual development, the identity of your
family, and your relationship. Children are so time-consuming that
skills not learned in previous stages will be difficult to pick up at this
stage. Your ability to communicate well, maintain your relationships, and solve
problems is often tested during this stage.
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Introducing a child
into your family results in a major change in roles for you and your partner.
Each parent has three distinct and demanding roles: as an individual, a partner,
and a parent. As new parents, your individual identities shift along with how
you relate to each other and to others. The skills that you learned in the Independence and Coupling stages, such as compromise and commitment, will help you move to the Parenting stage.
Along with the joy that comes
from having a child, you may feel a great deal of stress and fear about these
changes. A woman might have concerns about being pregnant and going through
childbirth. Fathers tend to keep their fears and stress to themselves, which
can cause health problems.
Talking about your emotional or
physical concerns with your
obstetrician, or counselor can help you deal with
these and future challenges.
Parenting young children
Adapting children into
other relationships is a key emotional process of
this stage. You will take on the parenting role and transition from being a
member of a couple to being a parent. While you are still evolving as
individuals, you and your partner are also becoming decision-makers for your
family. Continuing to express your individuality while working well together as
a couple results in a strong marriage.
Your child's healthy
development depends on your ability to provide a safe, loving, and organized
environment. Children benefit when their parents have a strong relationship.
Caring for young children cuts into the amount of time you might
otherwise spend alone or with your partner. If you did not fully develop some skills in previous phases, such as compromise for the good of the family, your relationship may be strained. For example, divorce or affairs may be more likely to occur during the years of raising young children if parents have not developed strong skills from earlier life stages.
But for those who have the proper tools, this can be a very
rewarding, happy time, even with all of its challenges. Optimally, you develop
as an individual, as a member of a couple, and as a member of a family.
Specific goals when young children join your family
Adjusting your marital system to make space for
Taking on parenting roles.
relationships with your extended family to include parenting and grandparenting