– “I do not like your children” – is the worst sentence you as a parent can hear. And especially when it comes from one’s partner. It is almost unbearable. You are ready to leave him/her on the spot!
Our spontaneous reaction will be anger or grief. We are fiercely defensive. We defend our kids (and ourselves) vigiously.
We do what we can to highlight all the fantastic situations where it’s obvious that our children are lovable.
The situation may seem quite unmanageable. How can we possibly continue with your relationship after this message?
How to handle the issue? I want to give you my best guess.
# 1 – Ask your partner
Find the courage to ask your partner what it is he/she dislikes about your child. Avoid going into defensive position (that’s a big challenge.)
Listen. Be on the lookout. Look for clues. Is it in the same situation your partner feel resistance against the child or is it in many different situations. What characteristics “trigger” something in your partner.
Find out what your partner feels is needed, so he/she can get a more positive perception of the child. Ask your partner to be as specific as possible.
What can the child do/say/handle differently?
Based on the answers to the various questions you can work together on a solution that is healthy for you all, realistic and possible to integrate. Remember to notice the smallest, but positive changes along the way.
# 2 – A “hidden” side of your partner
Your partner’s reaction to your children can also be caused by a trait or a side of him/herself that he/she is in denial about. Often these are called our shadow sides.
When he/she for example experiences your children exhibit “greed”, he/she might feel disgust. For him/her it is not okay to be greedy.
There is an English proverb that says it very accurately. And there’s something about it.
“What you resist, will persist.”
Again and again we deal with the same type of people and situations.
I think we need to learn from the situation. When we have learned our “lesson” then these confrontations disappear magically.
Maybe your partner was never allowed to be greedy when he/she was a child. Maybe he/she was raised to believe that it is wrong. What did his parents think about greed?
Ask what happens if you “allow” yourselves (and children) to be greedy some times. (We all are in one area or another.)
Try to identify which stories your partner has attached to the word and see if you can find a way, so your partner can have “peace” with the word.
# 3 – Jealousy towards your children
My third bid can be said very briefly. Your partner might be jealous of your children. They “steal” time with you from him/her. And it can be difficult to make up for having to admit it. Therefore, jealousy is projected onto the children.
If you feel that jealousy is the reason for the resistance, then spend a few minutes every day, BEFORE you attend to the kids, by hugging and being present with your partner.
I bet you you’ll have a happy and smiling partner for the rest of the day. You gave him/her exactly what he/she needed (maybe he/she won’t even be conscious of it.)
# 4 – Service level is too high
Are you one of those parents who occasionally forget that children themselves have arms and legs. I did. I catered to my boys without any limits, making my partner angry. My boys seemed spoiled and without any initiative. I did not demand anything from them.
Is it something you can recognize from your own life? If it is, then see it as a welcoming opportunity to turn down the service level. But remember to inform your children that things will have to change from now on. There are new rules.
They will probably complain loudly, but will eventually get used to it. And best of all your partner’s annoyance with your children will hopefully change in proportion, as that will get your family to work as a team.
# 5 – Takes up too much
Honestly – Maybe your partner’s annoyance with your kids is reasonable. Maybe they are completely unreasonable and need to be put in their place. But maybe the children feel that they must compete with your girlfriend about your attention.
If you’ve been alone with them for many years, they had been accustomed to always have your full attention. They need time to get used to that you are no longer their sole “property.” But remember that it’s perfectly ok to tell them that you’re just busy with something else, but that you will return to them as soon as you have time. (It is mportant to remember to get back to them.)
It is a good opportunity to introduce children to the concept of “situational awareness” that they just may find out about what is going on around them. Notice what are the others are doing, before they start to yell for you.
When you show your partner that you give him/her priority status and say no to the kids with respect for both your relationship and them, it might help your partner to remember that habits take time to change. You must have patience. But it is worth being good at noticing the little progress that constantly will show up when you are consistent and loving in your demands of the children.
I hope you have found some new inspiration in my (long) blog.
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