Being a parent can be great fun, with lots of opportunities for love and excitement. It also brings challenges and hard work. Parenting teamwork helps you face these challenges in a positive way that minimises conflict and strengthens relationships.
About parenting teamwork
Teamwork is working together, agreeing on your approach to parenting, making decisions together and supporting each other.
It’s about agreeing on things like children’s bedtimes, family nutrition or discipline. And it’s also about you and your partner sharing the job of managing your house and family. This can include things like caring for your children, doing chores and paperwork, and earning an income.
Why parenting teamwork is important for your children
The way that you and your partner interact with each other has a big influence on your children.
For example, when parents see themselves as a team and work together, children feel safe and good about themselves. They also learn about respectful communication and how to build healthy relationships.
On the other hand, children who see and hear severe conflict between their parents are more likely to develop problems with behaviour and development.
Why parenting teamwork is important for you
When you work as a team with your partner, you’re likely to feel happier, more confident and more satisfied with your parenting and your family life. It’s also easier for you to enjoy the time you spend with your family.
And to be in the best position to work as part of a parenting team with your partner, you need to look after yourself and your relationship.
For example, staying healthy, managing stress and looking after yourself more generally can give you increased energy to support and respect your partner and children. It can also help you get the most out of being a parent.
It’s also worth putting time into keeping your relationship with your partner healthy. Caring for children and juggling work, family and time for yourself does place demands on a relationship. But when you make ‘couple time’, you’re likely to feel closer to your partner and more supported as a parent. And this can make parenting together more enjoyable.
Parenting teamwork skills
Parenting teamwork gets easier with time and practice. But there are also some skills that help you and your partner work well as a team. These include:
problem-solving – this means finding new and creative solutions in situations where you’re stuck or can’t work through your issues
managing conflict – this means managing and resolving disagreements in a collaborative and positive way
talking and listening – this means communicating in ways that help you connect and strengthen your relationship
backing each other up – this means parenting in consistent and supportive ways
accepting each other – this means living with and valuing each other’s differences.
Video Children’s impact on your relationship
This video highlights the ups and downs in parents’ relationships that come with raising children. Australian parents talk about common problems and tensions. They also share ways to strengthen and build a relationship after children. In particular, they say that patience and open communication can help you reduce conflict and support each other.
Parenting teamwork after separation
Parenting teamwork can be even more important after separation, but it can sometimes be more challenging too. Co-parenting often means you have more things to keep track of. This might include things like visitation schedules and arrangements for attending parent-teacher interviews or medical appointments.
If there’s conflict between you and your former partner, it’s important to manage it in a positive, respectful and business-like way. Grown-up conflict management can teach your child valuable skills, but ongoing conflict between separated parents isn’t good for children.
If you’re a single parent
, you might sometimes feel like you’re doing it all by yourself. But you don’t have to. It helps to build a strong network of people who can support you. These people might include family, friends, colleagues and support groups.
When parenting as a team is hard
There might be times when you and your partner find it hard to work as a team. This is more likely to happen during times of change, like when a parent returns to work, a child begins school, or when a child starts going through puberty. The natural changes in life can make teamwork tricky because they affect family routines.
You might find you’re having trouble working through disagreements or conflicts, or you’ve thought about separation.
It’s good if you and your partner can get help together. Relationship counsellors can help you and your partner identify the issues and what you can do about them. You could try the following options:
- Call Relationships Australia in your state or territory on 1300 364 277.
- Contact Family Relationships Online on 1800 050 321. This service has a Family Relationship Advice Line for families affected by relationship or separation issues.
- See your GP to talk things through and get a referral to a local relationships or family counselling service.
If your partner doesn’t want to go to counselling with you, it’s still worth seeking help, even if it’s by yourself.