They say that nothing prepares you for parenthood. Even though you’ve been pre-warned about the sleepless nights and the sheer busyness of caring for a new baby, the reality can still take you by surprise. But there’s another set of challenges faced by new mums and dads that they are often even less prepared for. In the excitement and utter exhaustion of caring for their baby, the first thing that a couple can overlook is their own relationship.
Relationship and parenting classes aren’t prescribed alongside the baby scans, but statistics tell us that half of all couples who separate do so within three years of having a baby. The good news is that parents are now being given the tools to buck the trend.
Let’s Stick Together is a one-hour session that has proved popular with mums and dads in antenatal and postnatal classes. It has been developed from the best evidence-based relationship education courses and can really help a couple as they adjust to life with a new baby in the family. It doesn’t matter how different we are as individuals and couples, or what our circumstances are, the principles of a successful relationship are common to all.
The short session teaches three simple, practical skills that really work within a relationship to keep it healthy.
1. Stopping bad habits
These are the negative attitudes that can affect the way a couple relate to each other. By learning to spot their own bad habits, couples can decide to put a stop to them before they cause deep conflict in their relationship. Let’s Stick Together adopts the acronym STOP to help recognise these: ‘Scoring points’, ‘Thinking the worst’, ‘Opting out’ and ‘Putting each other down’.
2. Starting good habits
Many couples find that they give and receive love in different ways, which means the message can be lost along the way. There are five main ‘love languages’ and by being able to recognise these, couples are able to learn how to communicate love to their partner in a way that really helps them to connect with one another.
3. Friendship and involvement
For many couples, the easiest option can be for mum to take over most or all of the parenting role and for dad to drift into the background. The message here is to ‘work as a team’ – which will make things a lot easier – and to make sure you spend time together.
Some parents may find these ideas quite a revelation, while others may find they already know them. But even the best common sense is sometimes only obvious once it has been explained. Here are some comments from those who have attended a session:
“Tracy and I have a great relationship, but like everyone you can slip into bad habits and I liked the idea that Let’s Stick Together was about how to strengthen our relationship. LST is so simple and yet has really impacted our marriage.”
“I wasn’t sure I really wanted to go to something like this, but as soon as I arrived it was relaxed and I didn’t even have to say anything. It made me laugh and it made me think!”
“The three principles that we’ve been working through definitely made a big difference.”
“The most useful session of our postnatal course!”
So if you want to help new parents to nip problems in the bud before they become impossible to manage, Let’s Stick Together is a great resource. It is not yet available throughout the UK, although we are growing our team our volunteer presenters all the time. Find out here how you can host a Let’s Stick Together session in your toddler group.
You can also get information about how you can be trained to present Let’s Stick Together in your community. You don’t have to have any special expertise. We will train and resource you free of charge and give you ongoing support.
Let’s Stick Together is also available as a book.
SPECIAL OFFER TO PLAYTIME READERS!
Buy the Let’s Stick Together book for £5 plus free P&P by using the code PT15 on the order form or telephone 029 2081 0800. Offer ends 31 December 2015.