As important as it is to have a village surrounding you as a parent, its just as important to have a supportive partner that you can co-parent with. It can alleviate the burden of a rough day with the kids when you have a shoulder to lean on, especially when they can tune into your needs. There are a few different ways to be supportive, as well as a few ways to ask for the support that you need!
The first one that can come up most frequently is
1. Emotionally Focused
This is so frequent because as humans we are constantly emoting and are very good at picking up on others emotional states. It is an 'easy' one to notice because when your partner is off (their face looks sad or mad, they are sluggish, snappy, or not behaving in their typical manner) you can easily pick up on it. When you have a partner who is upset or emotionally charged, meeting them with calmness and open ears is the best approach. Just like with children, when someone is in an emotional state, meeting them with logic will make it hard for them to be receptive to you and can undermine their feelings.
Verbally stating "I understand why you feel _______. That sounds so challenging. I'd love to hear more".
When you approach your partner in a warm and validating way, they feel understood and will be better able to become more regulated and return to baseline.
Sometimes we have had time to cool down or are no longer as emotionally upset. We have had time to reflect and are in a state to take action! We are ready for a more
2. Direct approach
Often times, however, we my not be sure exactly what to do. For instance, say you share that you yelled at the kids. You may mention to your partner that it didn't sit right with you and now you feel guilty and are not sure what to do. This can be the perfect opportunity for you or your partner to clarify your desire to find a solution and offer it;
"Would you like a suggestion on how to address that?"
"Can you please help me think of a way to address that?"
It's short, sweet, and to the point! You are inquiring if your partner would like a suggestion, or asking your partner for direct advice. It gets to the root of what you need and your partner can best serve your needs when things are clear and direct.
The final one that is
There is nothing inherently wrong with ambivalence. Sometimes we are unsure of what went wrong, how we feel, or what to do. Maybe our traumas are resurfacing and we can't quite get our nervous system back on track. Maybe we are so overwhelmed we can't cognitively process our current environment. It can he helpful to have a partner that is able to see the ambivalence and help us through it. This includes identifying current stressors, verbalizing them, and assisting in decreasing them. This can sound like this:
"Ive noticed (insert behavioral changes). You've shared there has been a lot going on with (insert areas of concern). Could these be contributing? I would like to help by (insert your offering)".
By helping your partner explore, identify, and then decrease their stressors, they are better able to function as a parent. This well rounded unity will serve your family and children immensely.
I created a quick visual on how these 3 different ways can look! Hopefully it helps illustrate the ways it can be expressed as well as how you and your partner can support each other. Download the PDF or save the picture.