About raising children as a team
Raising children as a team is about working together, agreeing on a shared approach to parenting, making decisions together and supporting each other.
It’s about agreeing on things like children’s bedtimes, family nutrition or discipline. If you’re part of a couple, it’s also about you and your partner sharing the job of managing your house, which might involve doing chores, paying bills, handling paperwork, earning an income and so on. And it’s about caring for each other and your children, and trying to make sure that everyone has time to do things they enjoy.
Why raising children as a team is important
The way that you and your partner or ex-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 learn about respectful communication and how to build healthy relationships. This is important for their emotional development.
And raising children as a team with your partner or ex-partner can be good for you too. When you work as a team, 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.
Staying healthy, managing stress and looking after yourself more generally can give you increased energy to work as a team with your partner or ex-partner and children. It can also help you get the most out of being a parent. And if you’re part of a couple, it’s worth trying to keep your relationship with your partner healthy. This can help you feel closer to your partner and more supported as a parent.
Parenting teamwork skills
Raising children as a team gets easier with time and practice. But there are also some skills that help you with parenting teamwork. These include:
- problem-solving – this means finding new and creative solutions in situations where you’re stuck or can’t work through family 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.
Parenting teamwork after separation
Raising children as a team 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, extracurricular activities 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 raising children as a team is hard: getting help
There might be times when you and your partner or ex-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 or changes jobs, 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.
It’s good if you and your partner or ex-partner can get help together. Whether you’re in a couple or separated, relationship counsellors can help you 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.
- Call 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 psychologist or a relationship or family counselling service.
- Find a psychologist or counselling service through the Australian Psychology Society, Australian Counselling Association or Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia.
If your partner or ex-partner doesn’t want to go to counselling with you, it’s still worth seeking help by yourself.
Family violence is not OK. If you’re in a relationship that involves family violence, call the National Sexual Assault, Domestic Family Violence Counselling Service on 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732).