I have had the joy of being a resource for WashingtonPost.com's parenting blog, OnParenting, by Janice D'Arcy. It has been a lot of fun to connect with parents in the DC area and consider the particular strain that children seem to put on the parenting partnerships around them. Bookmark this page - OnParenting - Janice is doing some excellent work!


Running head(cold) first into household conflict

Janice D'Arcy and I talked about the unique burden that being sick while being a co-parent can place on a couple. When you have babies of your own, your own chances of being babied dwindle. Resentment can set in on the part of the sick parent, and the parent left to keep the household running. Read the whole article here.


Too busy for the anniversary

It may feel like a chore sometimes, like everything else ought to come higher on your list, but forgetting your anniversary is a big, gigantic, huge, enormous (get my drift?) mistake.

And it will only take 30 seconds to get yourself back on track.

Read the whole article here.

Here's an excerpt:

“One moment of simple connection with that other grown-up who balances out your family seesaw does not require lots of planning, or even complete privacy,” she said.

“I may be going against the Therapist’s Code here, but we couples counselors often prescribe the Date Night or Appointment Sex because they are sure-fire ways to get people to connect on a regular, measurable basis. But the aim of that whole process is so that the two people get to that smiling, eye-contacted moment of really breathing together, acknowledging their partnership, and naming what they are building through their choice of living a shared life.

“What I’m advocating for here is 30 seconds of hand holding, eye contact, and saying something (anything) positive about the other person. In those 30 seconds, you simply acknowledge that while you don’t have the time/energy/sitter funds to plan that big date night out, you really would love to have that time together.”


For better and for worse and through raising the kids

Kids have their own unique way of relaunching a couple back into the same navigational power struggles that usually come at the beginning of a relationship. Janice D'Arcy and I discussed the way that kids plunge us back into old conflicts that we may have thought were over.

Here's an excerpt:

“There’s a romantic phase of parenting (mixed in with the exhausted/delirious/mommy-daddy brain phase) when we are getting our sea legs and marveling at the transition from couplehood into parenthood. But soon the power struggles sneak up, e.g. when to move a baby to her crib; how long to breastfeed; or how we handle child care arrangements.

“Increasingly, we seem to be a kid-focused culture, so it’s easy for relationship growth to be put on the backburner for a time, even years, until there’s very little left between two people to salvage.

Read the whole article here.


Making the Case for Valentine's Day

You don't have to buy into the corporate approach for Valentine's Day, but you do have to do something.

I offered some reasons why in OnParenting. Read the whole article here. Here's an excerpt:

“Sure, Valentine’s Day has become the holiday to hate: it’s contrived, it’s awkward, and yet, full of expectations. But the truth is that intimacy-while-parenting — particularly when your kids are young — is basically all of those things:contrived, awkward, and full of expectations...

“February actually is a great month to check back in with your partner, since the end-of-year busy-ness is passed. We can use the holiday as a reminder that we still have an intimate partner despite the complications of parenthood, perhaps launching us back into a routine of being conscious about our relationship health."


Holidays plus kids compounds stress

Holiday time always puts extra pressure on couples - but add kids to that mix and you can be walking into a mine field. Janice D'Arcy and I talked through some tips for avoiding disaster at the holidays.

Here is an excerpt:

“I advise couples to rundown all scenarios first, gathering input from extended family members (don’t assume you know what they want, they might surprise you), then make the final decision between the two of you. That way neither person is painted as a dictator when you explain the choice to a wider audience.

By talking with one another first, couples can be upfront about the potential consequences of any option and decide if they can live with them in advance ...

New parents often expect a lot of themselves, they expect to experience the holidays like always, just with a baby on their hip this time. Instead of strategizing for how to make the holiday perfect, it may be more useful to name more basic or realistic goals (e.g. enjoying time together, marveling at how everyone is reacting to the new baby).

Sometimes just talking about it — putting words to those goals and explaining them to another person — can be enough to snap us out of the unconscious thoughts that raise our anxiety (e.g. ‘Hmm, when I hear that out loud it sounds silly. Maybe it’s not so important that I stay up all night making three different kinds of pumpkin pie.’)

Read the whole article here.