New parenting books say: put your relationship before the kids and pull your weight

Two controversial parenting titles have been released this month

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Two new parenting books that focus on couples’ relationships have been released.

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I Love You, But You Always Put Me Last, written by marital therapist Andrew G Marshall encourages parents to put their relationship first.

Getting to 50/50: How Working Parents Can Have It All, written by Sharon Meers and Joanna Strobber argues that men should do their fair share when it comes to household tasks and child-rearing.

Andrew G Marshall says your partner should be the priority, not the children, because “children are just passing through, while marriage should be forever”. He continues: “A happy marriage means happy children. If you put your children first, day in and day out, you will exhaust your marriage.”

He also advocates being a “good enough” parent. “If you put all your energy into raising the next generation, you risk identifying so closely with your children that their success is your success and their failure is yours, and this will put them under unnecessary pressure.”

It is essential, he says, that when you have a new baby you should greet and kiss your partner first and the baby second. He also says that parents should put a lock on their bedroom door. “Somehow parents think they have to be 100% available, whatever the circumstances. ‘What if the children need us?’ they ask. ‘If there is an emergency your children can knock, or shout FIRE,’ I always reply.”

Meanwhile, Getting to 50/50: How Working Parents Can Have It All says splitting the housework and childcare benefits everyone: the husband, wife and children.

Sharon Meers and Joanna Strobber interviewed hundreds of parents and employers. They believe that families  thrive when mothers work and say that, to help them get back to work, women should “tap into [their] best resource and most powerful ally – the man [they] married”. Spending too much time caring for family members, Sharon and Joanna say, “may not be good for you”.

“Research says that employed women (whether or not they are wives or mothers) have greater well-being than their non-employed peers.

“Even if their husbands did not share in childcare equally, women who believed they could count on their spouses enjoyed the best psychological health. A dad who is willing to help when called gives his wife a safety valve – and greater well-being.”

Andrew G Marshall’s 10 Golden Rules, from I Love You, But You Always Put Me Last:

1 Don’t neglect your marriage: it is the glue that keeps the family together.

2 Being a parent and a perfectionist don’t sit easily together. Instead, aim for good enough.

3 The main job of a parent is to take your children’s feelings seriously, but this doesn’t mean giving in to every whim, rather explaining why something is not possible or sensible.

4 Happy relationships need good communication skills as well as love and connection.

5 In disputes about how to raise your children, there are no right or wrong answers. Listen to each other, be assertive and negotiate.

6 Don’t draw children into adult issues or let them take sides.

7 Encourage your children to be self-sufficient and don’t become their servant. In this way, you will have more time to invest in your relationship.

8 You need to feel loved by your partner and not just a service provider. To this end it is important to be romantic, have fun together and make sex a priority.

9 When there’s a problem, try not to label your partner or the children as the cause: look at your own contribution.

10 If something is good enough for your children, it is probably good enough for your partner, too.

What do you think of these parenting titles? Should men contribute 50/50? Are women happier at work than at home with the children? And should you put your marriage before your children?

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