Parenting, a team effort Parenting, a team effort

Children need the company of their parents for their learning processes to be successful. Making agreements and rules together helps prevent parenting responsibilities from falling on only one person.

Medical Advisor María Ochoa Urrea
Psychologist and Master’s in Clinical Psychology

Simply taking pride in providing material goods that ensure your children’s physical wellbeing seems to be a very old-fashioned idea of parenting. Just as it has become common for both mom and dad to work to support the household financially, the best thing is that they are also sharing parenting responsibilities.

Fortunately, says clinical psychologist María Ochoa Urrea, culture is changing and there are more fathers who are getting directly involved in the care of their children, understanding that it is a team effort, not just the mother’s responsibility.

“The idea is to distribute the tasks, both at home and at work. When this is not established, there is an overload of activities for one of the caregivers, which can cause problems such as fatigue,” explains the specialist.

This mutual support in raising children can be achieved if the father and mother establish clear agreements to share responsibilities, which can be done by alternating weeks or days. It also helps to be willing to do activities together, especially when they involve your children, such as cooking, playing, and answering questions about homework, encouraging conversation so that your children feel comfortable asking questions and trusting in their parents.

More than relieving loads

But the distribution of work at home is not the only justification for experts to encourage a more effective presence of the two parents in childcare. It is also true that spending real time together creates bonds and encourages affection, and this guarantees happier children and adults who will relate to each other better.

“It is not being just to be, as some think. Presence alone does not mean companionship. It is about affection. It is about being open to understanding and listening to what happens to the children as they grow up. Understanding what causes them to feel certain emotions, paying attention to what they need, and being with them even when it is time for them to settle down, because that is when they are learning about self-control,” states the specialist.

Another advantage of providing effective parenting support is that children will be more willing to collaborate and work together, since children tend to imitate the behavior of adults. “Not being willing to help your children with their chores generates negative and dysfunctional parenting patterns,” explains Ochoa Urrea.

This is why both mom and dad are necessary when it comes to rewarding or correcting. Some functional and positive patterns that reinforce the child’s characteristics or qualities are rewarding or praising their behavior, or punishing them out of love – without resorting to violence.”

“It is essential that the father as well as the mother are reminding their children that they are proud of their achievements or that the activities they are doing will benefit everyone at home,” states the psychologist.

When it comes to correction, the intervention of both parents is necessary, and as a team it is important to understand that it must be done out of affection. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) states that a hug from a parent is a more powerful gesture of authority for children of all ages than using words or shouting.

“By hugging them, they can feel the contact of one body with the other: a rocking and cradling that brings emotional and physical memories of the mother’s arms or of the “maternal” figure to the surface. The warm and firm embrace gives an ‘outline,’ a limit, it is a powerful message of how far you can go.” It calms the feeling of anguish and not feeling listened to, which children and adolescents experience in some way when they are emotionally overwhelmed,” explains one of the entity’s booklets on parenting.

In essence, it is a matter of everyone knowing that they have a leading role in children’s life and future, through examples and expressing affection. Parents today are called upon to completely abandon the idea that raising a child is limited to providing material things to meet their basic needs, or even giving them presents, and to take on a more loving parenthood.•

More INVOLVED PARENTS

Be it a single or married parent; one who works or stays home, or a stepparent. All these parental figures contribute to the parenting of children, in roles considered traditional or less conventional, states pediatrician David L. Hill, on the American Academy of Pediatrics’ website, Healthy Children. He also states that parental involvement has been shown to help with language development during childhood and in some cases prevent behavior problems. Also, they can stimulate active games. Both parents provide different benefits to the family.

Children are also support

Sharing household chores has become even more necessary during these times when more parents are working from home. So, in addition to getting involved as a couple when parenting, it is also important to motivate your children to participate in building a healthy environment for everyone.

The specialist recommends:

Include your children in household chores (even if they do not do it very well at first). For example, asking them to mop their room as a way to start cultivating these habits.

Motivate your child to do active pauses when doing homework (every 20 minutes) and do it together.

Do active pauses as a family, so that your child learns self-control. Parents can help, showing the child on a clock when it is time to stop.

Encourage dialogue and the expression of emotions and feelings. If parents start sharing what they felt throughout the day, for example, children will be motivated to share their experiences too.