Words by Psychotherapist Jane Faulkner
When I began my parenting journey 11 years ago I was very idealistic, my son was not going to eat sugar or watch TV – I was a little extreme in fact! I look back now and role my eyes, my idealistic notions of parenting were exhausting and ensured that I was constantly critical of myself, my husband or my child. It was horrible.
My husband, on the other hand was a little too loose, our son was his second child and although he agreed with everything I said and the rationale behind why I wanted to parent that way, when it came to following through he crumbled. He often seemed to choose the easy road, which made parenting more difficult for me and confusing for my son.
Over the years, I have realized that his way of doing things also has value (how humbling), but also that without structure everything falls apart. Homework doesn’t get completed, nourishing meals don’t get prepared and it feels chaotic. So our journey together has been one of finding the middle way, not too little, not too much; respecting and honouring one another’s parenting decisions, so that we stand as a united front, rather than disintegrate at the first sign of trouble.
In my quest for a healthy, happy home, we have had many battles and I have often felt alone on the journey. I have been committed and many times my husband hasn’t, this often left me feeling frustrated, alone and stuck! It’s difficult to guide and lead a family if only one partner is paddling, it often means that the family goes around and around in circles and everyone ends up feeling exhausted, frustrated and defeated!
So these tips have helped me stay sane in finding the middle way and getting my husband on board to live a healthy, happy life:
- Be realistic and clear about what you want; e.g. I would like us to sit down to family meals together.
- Approach the topic rationally and logically, share your thoughts and ideas and encourage your partner to voice theirs. Imagine you are in a business meeting; negotiate and collaborate.
- Try not to get emotional, stay calm and back yourself. Your needs are just as important as everyone else’s.
- Start talking about what you want, discuss the pros and cons, discuss why it is important to you, ask your family for their opinion. Does it seem realistic and do-able to them, are they interested?
- Educate your partner; give them the facts and the rationale behind why this is important to you.
- Commit to the changes you want to make yourself, this is vital. Allow your family to see you make the changes for yourself.
- Allow choice and be honest and transparent – nobody likes to feel like they are being controlled or manipulated into something.
- Delegate, involve everyone, each person is responsible for the choices they make and their level of participation, even small children thrive with this.
- Regularly re-evaluate and be open to finding a middle ground that everyone can grow from.
- If your partner still isn’t willing to get on board, you may need to be the change you want to see. It may be more difficult but it is possible – I have many stories of making changes on my own to hear my husband spruik the positive benefits of the changes and educate others about what to do!
- Often when we commit and we stay true to ourselves, people around us change, they are influenced in a positive way by us.
- Get support from friends, relatives or Well Nourished!
- Relax and enjoy the journey, remember the relationship is always more important than being right.
Jane Faulkner started her career as a Registered Nurse and has worked in hospitals in Australia and overseas. During her career as a nurse, she supported people through the difficult transitions of illness, grief, death, trauma, mental health issues and childbirth.
Jane has a Masters in Gestalt Psychotherapy, a Bachelor of Nursing, a Certificate in Initiatic Art Therapy and is certified in Equine Assisted Psychotherapist. Yoga is an integral part of her life, she is a Certified Iyengar Teacher and continues to study and teach in the Iyengar yoga tradition. She is an accomplished teacher, therapist, and facilitator and has led many women’s groups and Day Retreats, presented seminars and workshops, and worked with many different community groups and individuals.
Jane is the founder of Equine Assisted Therapy Australia, an organisation that provides training, retreats, programs and individual sessions that aim to provide individuals with a new and authentic ways to grow and learn more about themselves. Connect with Jane HERE.