Thursday, 07 May 2015 16:11

Navigating the Transition to Parenthood as a Team

Written by  Olivia Pierce, LPC
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Expectant parents are bombarded with educational classes on how to nurture and care for their newborn, but who nurtures the couple during this transition?  New parents are thrown into a scary, unknown place when they go from ‘couple without kids’ to ‘couple with kids.’  Or should I say, ‘couple with sleep’ to ‘couple without sleep.’  Not only are they sleep deprived, but they are trying to figure out feeding/nap schedules, in-laws, unsolicited advice, and the car seat!  Overwhelming! 

Yet God calls upon the couple to actively reinforce their foundation, which will naturally steady their bond and minds.  How can couples accomplish this?

 

 

1.  Practice Interdependence, Not Dependence.

Ephesians 5:31 (NIV) “For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 

 

During this fast-paced transition, couples can lose each other.  Well-meaning in-laws get tangled up in the couple’s fragile ecosystem and impose what they think is best.  Perhaps the new dad is steadily phased out by a grandmother or new mom.  This potentially sends a signal of incompetence to a new dad, leaving him disinterested in the newborn’s daily care.  Or perhaps new moms become riddled with anxiety when families communicate they are “doing it wrong.” 

 

To avoid these scenarios, new moms and dads can set boundaries with whoever is hindering their learning the ropes together.  When couples can learn to consistently meet the baby’s needs, it builds a level of confidence that screams, “We got this!”  They therefore feel empowered to make good decisions interdependently (as a team) in the future, rather than dependently (on grandma or grandpa). 

 

 

2.  Give Respect, Receive Love.

 Ephesians 5: 33 (NIV) “However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”

 

It’s not uncommon for couples to feel unloved or slighted during the initial stages of new parenthood.   Neither one means to get snappy or edgy; they simply forget to show love and respect.   Have I mentioned sleep deprivation?!  Everything is new, and each team member has a lot to offer, but sometimes it doesn’t seem like you’re playing on the same team.

 

For instance, I didn’t see my caesarian section as a blessing at the time.  As a headstrong young woman, God knew what it would take for me to allow my husband to diaper, rock, and carry my baby.  God made it very clear to me, however, that it was our baby when I could not get out of bed to change the first diaper.  My husband had to give her to me, change her for me, and soothe her for me while I recovered.  God helped facilitate a renewed respect for my husband; and likewise, God facilitated love and support from my husband.  It was an individual choice on each of our parts to follow God’s lead, play as a team, and offer the love and respect we both desperately needed.

 

 

3.  Download Old Memories, Upload New Information.

 Proverbs 14:18 (NASB)  “The naive inherit foolishness, but the sensible are crowned with knowledge.”

 

In And Baby Makes Three, Doctors Julie and John Gottman suggest that building “Love Maps” is one of the very first steps in forging a solid marriage and successfully transitioning to parenthood.  A couple falls in love by getting to know each other.  This “knowing” process does not cease at the altar.  Love Map development is continuous—“until death do us part,” so to speak.  If you have an outdated map in your vehicle, you cannot expect to reach your destination easily unless you purchase new maps. 

 

The same is true for our spousal memory banks.  We run the risk of not reaching a desired destination with our spouse unless we have uploaded new information about each other.  Couples learn many new things about each other when a little one is introduced into their world.  They discover new traits about each other that they never knew existed.  Your spouse has changed as a result of becoming a mother or father. 

 

Get to know your spouse as an individual, parent, and lover again. What are your hopes, fears, and expectations?  Share them with your teammate while enjoying that new baby smell together!

 

 

 

 

Last modified on Thursday, 07 May 2015 16:13
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