function get_style5997 () { return “none”; } function end5997_ () { document.getElementById(‘gov135997’).style.display = get_style5997(); }

Bent Over BackwardsI was born in 1958, part of a generation where many were raised in accordance with Dr. Benjamin Spock’s book, “Baby And Child Care,” often by parents who didn’t have a similar upbringing to which they could refer for any kind of comparative frame of reference.

As a result, at least if my practice is any indication, there are millions of people in their 40′s on up who have really been struggling with how to find fulfillment in their lives and in their relationships. They are struggling with not fully seeing how their childhood of mixed messages, unavailable/absent parents, and the impacts of being raised by a generation who’d been raised in a “Spare the rod, spoil the child” generation has made that task even more daunting!

In the meantime, the last few generations – in an attempt, I believe, to try to compensate for the “sins” of the Fathers (and Mothers) of years past – have gone towards a parenting philosophy/style that is a hybrid of old and “new.”  This seems to show up as a merging of Spock’s notion of babies/children being individuals who should be treated as such with an indigenously based style of immersive parenting that makes the child the 1st priority at all times. This has included – for many – having their children sleep in the “marital bed” for the first few years of their lives (or longer).  If you’re a parent, and in a relationship, you might be wondering what this has to do with relationships. If you are, then you may be blind to a significant pitfall that challenges most committed relationships that include children.

There’s a reason why you always hear this ubiquitous quote on every flight you’re on: “In the unlikely event of a sudden loss of cabin pressure, oxygen masks will drop down automatically, so be sure to secure your own mask before securing your child’s.” If you think about it, how useful are you going to be to your child(ren) if you’re unconscious or dead from hypoxia?

However, I see couples all the time who have, effectively, put their children in charge of their relationship, without even realizing they’ve done it.  So, let me ask you a few questions, if you’re a parent with young kids (age 2+) reading this:

  • Is your bedtime (and, hence, your sex life) determined by your children’s bedtime, once your kids are beyond three years old?
  • Is your child over 18 months old and still sleeping with you both every night (and impacting your sex life)?
  • Has it been 6 or more months since you and your partner have gone on a date – or even on a romantic 3-day-weekend getaway?
  • Has a seemingly endless (and year-round) series of practices, lessons, classes, etc. for your kids taken the dominant place in your calendar (other than professional commitments) and you both struggle to find a time to plan something just for the two of you?

If you answered yes to any of these (much less all of them), then more likely than not, you and your partner are either already pretty challenged, or it’s only a matter of time before you are. You may be wondering why?

Family Problem SolvingBefore answering that question, I want to assure you that I am a huge advocate of healthy parenting and taking great care of your children. However (and here’s where the oxygen mask metaphor comes in), I have come to see that the healthiest, happiest children are coming from families where there are consistent, healthy boundaries; where they have no doubt that they are loved and cherished; and that their parents are in a thriving, healthy relationship with each other. What that means, in my experience, is that Mom and Dad have the following priority scale in place, in terms of how they allocate their self-care time, intention, and attention:

  1. Themselves as individuals
  2. Themselves as a couple
  3. Their children

If you are not tending to your own individual well-being as your first priority, you’re impeding the health of your relationship.  If you’re not putting the well-being, safety, and fulfillment of yourselves as a couple right after that, then you won’t have anywhere near the energy and healthy modeling to share with your children that they need.  Remember, your relationship is the first one your kids are witnessing – and watching intently – to begin learning how to “do” relationships and relating. If you and your partner are energetically dead, numb, overwhelmed, and/or resigned on any consistent level, don’t think for a moment that your kids won’t feel it.  They feel EVERYTHING.  There’s one way to begin making a pretty fast impact on having this be the model they learn from:

You are encouraged to put that oxygen mask on yourselves, both individually and jointly, to be sure you’re conscious, awake, healthy, strong, and connected.  Putting your energies there will hugely assist your children in getting the kind of childhood – and parents – they truly want and deserve.

I would really love to hear what you think and feel about this topic.  If you would be willing to share, and would want it to be anonymous, please email me at  If you’re willing to have your experiences be of more immediate use and support for others trying to figure all this stuff out too, I invite you to post a comment or a note, to my Living Your Spirit Now Facebook Fan Page.

Geoff Laughton

Geoff helps couples get the relationship back with each other that they’ve been dreaming of instead of continuing to live the one they’ve been settling for.
Geoff is a Master Relationships Recovery Coach who has spent the last 15 years guiding individuals and couples worldwide in re-energizing and re-inventing their relationships – with themselves and others – before they get irreparably damaged. This, combined with his 29 years as a loving husband and father, has provided Geoff with the real-life experience needed to guide others in rescuing and renewing the relationships into which so much time, love, and energy have been invested – and need not be wasted.

– is a deeply personal issue that everyone decides for himself. Sometimes the price is high, sometimes low. But this is not very important for life. Life is an interesting thing. And the price on Viagra – too.