How to handle new parent arguments
With a new baby, lack of sleep and major life adjustments a few arguments are inevitable, here are some tips to help
Once it was “Why do you take so long to get ready to go out?”, now it’s “Your turn to change the nappy!” Welcome to your new world and what upsets new parents! You might have squabbled a bit before your new baby came along but now it can feel as if your life together is one long disagreement and conflict. But the truth is you may not be arguing any more than before, just about new issues, new stresses and new tensions. But why are you finding it so hard, and what can you do about it?
You may be feeling overwhelmed. Bringing new life into the world and finding yourself responsible for their wellbeing is quite a shock. Up to now you’ve only had to keep your own stuff together and shared in helping your partner do the same. And let’s face it, you might also have had at the back of your minds that you could always call on your own parents for help. You still can, but you know bringing up your baby is down to you, and that’s scary. All the new skills to learn, the new habits to get into, the wealth of health concerns and parenting tips you need to keep in mind – it’s no wonder you might feel as if a tsunami has hit.
You’re both learners. We tend to think that everyone else knows what they are doing, and we hate to be shown up as being incompetent. For that reason, partners might retreat saying “I can’t do that” or worse they might say “The baby cries if I try – you do it.” And mums may also be on the phone to their mums and friends all the time, asking for support. Yes, get all the support you can but remind yourselves that you didn’t get on a bike and win the Tour de France first off. In anything in life, you begin as a beginner, have to learn and practise and do it for yourself to get it right. And this applies to both parents – you’re in this together, should help each other, and will do better as you both get stuck in. There is no gene that makes one of you better at changing nappies or holding babies – it’s all a matter of repetition.
Learn to voice your feelings. Quarrels can become more bitter when we bite our lips and say nothing, and then blow up. If you’re upset, say so at once. Yes, the baby might need feeding or changing or something else might be crying out for attention – your relationship takes priority and sorting out disagreements helps it stay strong. Stop, take a deep breath so you’re calm and say “I think we need to talk…” You can always agree to park the discussion till later as long as you do go back to it, but don’t put off raising it.
Get it right now. As your child grows you’ll have plenty of big issues to face, and you may have different ideas of how to manage them. Learn to discuss rather than row now and you’ll cope with those so much better later.
Bounty “Sex & Relationship” articles are written by expert Suzie Hayman. Suzie is agony aunt for Woman magazine, a Relate trained counsellor, and an accredited TripleP (Positive Parenting Programme) parenting educator. She makes frequent appearances on TV and radio and as well as writing 31 books, Suzie writes features on parenting, relationships, sex and couples counselling, for a wide range of national magazines and newspapers