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Who comes first - your dh/dp or your children?

(38 Posts)
emkana Fri 04-Mar-05 22:09:18

Hi everyone,
sorry about the rather clumsy thread title.
Dh and I were talking tonight and I was telling him about my parents when I was young. For example they never ever picked me up from anywhere when I was a teenager (parties or similar) - they wanted me to be safe on my way home, so had to be with a friend, but they enjoyed their evenings a deux with one or two bottles of wine too much to pick me up. Doesn't bother me now, but hated that when I was young! That's just one small example for their general attitude - while they were good loving parents it was always clear to my brother and me that the most important for my mum/dad was the other one. Dh and I agreed that it's different for us - we love each other, yes, but our dd's are everything and definitely come first. Are my parents very unusual in their attitude, or not?

ionesmum Fri 04-Mar-05 22:19:37

It's a difficult one, isn't it? Ideally there should be some sort of balance, because your relationship as a couple has to be strong so that you rchildren have a safe environment in which to grow - in an ideal world at any rate. But that's so hard to do, isn't it? I'd like to spend more time with dh but I don't know how I'd do it with two little ones - it's all very well saying book some time but my calender can't predict colds, ear infections or separation anxiety! I think my parents put me first most of the time, although they did have their fair share of time to themselves. Certainly I never felt left out, but then I am an only child

Gwenick Fri 04-Mar-05 22:20:20

I think it's a tricky one - yes in most circumstances the kids come first BUT there HAS to be times when DH/DW comes first otherwise the relationship can breakdown. Just because you bring kids into the world doesn't mean that you ALWAYS have to put them first.

FWIW my parents were the same, but although it did hurt at the time I realise, looking back that actually it's the reason they're still together 33yr after marrying each other. Many of my peers parents relationships (the ones who got lifts everywhere - and who now as adults STILL expect mum and dad to help out all the time ) have broken down and they're now divorced. Of course that could merely be conincidence but I feel it's important to still make time as a couple - especially when the kids are older.

emkana Fri 04-Mar-05 22:28:51

Funnily enough, though, I always feel that having children has in a way brought dh and me closer together - while at the same time taking the focus away from each other. But that's a good thing, IMO - I've grown up a lot and spend less time obsessing about the state of our relationship just see that as a secure base in which we bring up our children. Hard to tell, though, what it will be like when the children and need us less (will they need us less?).

WideWebWitch Fri 04-Mar-05 22:34:38

My parents did pick me up yes and I think I prob will when my children need collecting. But the answer to the thread title is that they're both important. In order for me to be a good mother I need to be reasonably happy and therefore my relationship with dp is as important as mine with my children. So no, my children don't come first, they are all important and interlinked, they all affect each other. Iykwim!

emkana Fri 04-Mar-05 22:37:36

meant to say "when the children are older"

expatkat Fri 04-Mar-05 22:41:04

My parents came first for each other, and I sometimes resented it a little.

My kids come first for me.

My parents are still together after 36 years of marriage, whereas I'm struggling to reach 7, so maybe the marriages that work in the presence of kids are the marriages that put themselves first and the kids second. Intersting question.

Fimbo Fri 04-Mar-05 22:41:36

My sil's parents are like this. They spend Christmas day alone as they like "their" time together!! They never babysit my nephews and niece despite living a few streets away and when my sil went into labour in the middle of the night it was my bil's parents (my pil) who had to come over to look after the other 2, despite living over 1/2hr away. They have taken early retirement and are very fit and active but seem very wrapped up in themselves and my sil only sees them about once a month for 1/2hr.

emkana Fri 04-Mar-05 22:47:13

@expatkat -
I don't know about you, but even if this theory is true I can't help but do what I do, ie put the kids first. It's just the way I (very strongly) feel!

namechangingnortherner Fri 04-Mar-05 22:56:08

to sum my feelings up, I think if your children need you, you should be there for them, when your children are grown up are they less likely to demand your time...I think it's a carefully defined balance...I don't think you should ever ignore your children but maybe when they're 12 + you can start to be there more for your dh. I am guilty of children over dh that is why our marriage isn't so good .

redsky Sat 05-Mar-05 23:45:16

dh and I disagree over this very question. Dh says we should put each other first but I feel children have priority. It has lead to many many rows. I think that dh gives so little priorty to children that I try and compensate for it - then he feels they are getting too much attention so he gives them less!!! hopeless vicious circle.
DH and I are definitely getting on better now that the children are getting older (youngest 12) and we got on well together in the 6 six years we had together before we had children. We just can't agree on anything to do with children!

hercules Sat 05-Mar-05 23:46:20

That's awful, redsky

unicorn Sat 05-Mar-05 23:54:28

really interesting question this one.

I remember MIL saying to me when I was pregnant with dd1.. something along the lines of.. 'don't forget dh (ie her son) comes first - remember that!)

Well unfortunately I didn't/don't feel quite the same.
My children are just that - children, and they need me.
My dh is an adult, who should be able to cope with the change of relationship.

It is true, marriages do suffer when a man expects to be no.1 (and has been led to believe he always will be by his dear mama)and those pesky little children take the attention away from him!

Gwenick Sun 06-Mar-05 00:00:46

Problem is that if you NEVER put your DH first (and him put you first) then one day when the kids are grown up and 'fending' for themselves and not WANITNG mum and dad to 'help' them all the time parents can suddently discover they no longer 'know' the person they're married to as they've never spent enough time together putting each other first.

As much as we all love our kids, one day they're not going to be there at home all the time, and we're going to have to spend ALL our time with our DH's again........and a lot can change in 15-20yrs (more if you've got several kids)

unicorn Sun 06-Mar-05 00:05:54

Ah yes but.. wherein do your responsibilities lie?

dh's parents are now so totally out of the loop that when Dh has needed them (as an adult) they have been Completely disinterested- 'clocked off' I call it.

I personally don't think I can ever 'clock off' from being a parent- whether my kids are 4 or 40... they may always need me... You don't bring kids in the world and then just stop caring for them do you?

HunkerMunker Sun 06-Mar-05 00:06:42

Asked DH this and he said that he'd put DS before himself and he'd put me before himself. I agreed (said I too would put me before him) and he was happy with that - said that as long as we're all singing from the same hymnbook, that's fine

Seriously though, I think that you can have a balance - at the moment, DS (11 months) is too small to know about other people's feelings, so trying to explain that DH and I need time for ourselves wouldn't work. OTOH, DH is plenty big enough to understand that if DS needs me, he can wait his turn But I don't think that it'll ever be an either/or situation.

essbee Sun 06-Mar-05 00:15:10

Message withdrawn

Gwenick Sun 06-Mar-05 00:16:59

You don't have to stop caring for them, I never said that - and I don't think anyone else said that either.

What I'm saying is that once they leave home and start their own family suddenly we as parent won't be doing all the stuff we're now doing for them, we won't be having to worry about them 24/7, cleaning their clothes, cooking their meals, picking them up etc etc - we'll suddenly be FORCED to spend more time with our DP's.........and if you've never given yourselfs time in the 18yrs or so since your kids were born to put each other first it's going to end up like being strangers!

nikkim Sun 06-Mar-05 00:29:12

I have always put dd first and always will. A bit more complicated in my case as dd isn't dps. My Mum always put my stepdad before me and I hated growing up knowing i was the person in the house who was valued the least. I ended a relationship with a man I loved greatly before dp as he was just crap with my dd, high on my wishlist for a partner was someone who could become a father figure for my daughter.



I have been honest with dp and said that dd will always come first as I am the only person in life she can rely on 100% and the only one who will put her first. It has caused some problems in our relationship and dp has to put up with a lot but he understands why I am like I am and I think in a way he admires me for my honesty and my dertermination and strength as a mother.

nikkim Sun 06-Mar-05 00:30:43

Just read that back and I have come across as a bit holier than thou and I don't intend to. I am sure things might be different if I had been with dp before dd came along.

colditzmum Sun 06-Mar-05 00:54:28

Children definatly. And id dp doesn't like it he knows where the door is. I would not expect to be put before my son, dp shouldn't expect to either.

serenity Sun 06-Mar-05 22:38:41

Just asked DH and he started laughing and then pleaded the fifth (which I don't think counts here)

I think I try to balance the two. Atm the kids are little and far more dependant than DH, so their needs tend to be considered first by both of us. I don't think either of us neglect each other because of this. FFS we chose to have them!

marialuisa Mon 07-Mar-05 11:02:33

But what if the needs of your children are in conflict? I have much younger siblings, there was no way I could have expected my mum to pick my 15 year old self up from a party at 3 in the morning!

I was a fairly independent teen and TBH I expect DD to be the same. Yes, I will take my turn to pick her and assorted friends up from the pub but I won't be doing it every w/e and I don't really see that that's harmful. For me that's part of growing up and if it has he added benefit of giving me and DH space from a teenage DD so much the better.

I think there's a big difference between making space for your relationship with your partner and actually jeopardising your child's well-being.

bonym Mon 07-Mar-05 11:31:30

I think it's really important to find a balance. If dd needs me or dh then of course she comes first, but there are times when dh and I are spending time together and if dd is just attention seeking then she has to wait. Dh is not dd's father (although you wouldn't know it to see them together - they have a fab relationship) and I know that these circumstances can often be difficult. I think that the reason our family works so well (the three of us are a very tight unit and all of usgenuinely really happy) is that we do balance things well. A good friend of mine is in the same situation as me (her dh is not the father of her child and they got married about the same time and dh & I) and they have had a fair few problems linked to the fact that she always puts her ds first to the extent of breaking off a conversation with her dh because her ds wants her for something (often trivial).
Having said all that, a child's safety is paramount and dh and I would always give this no.1 priority. My father (bless him) always used to pick me up after parties - even at 2am in the morning when I was 17! I'm sure dh will do the same for dd when she gets to that stage!

NomDePlume Mon 07-Mar-05 11:47:47

My children 'come first', although it's a v close run race . My DD comes first because I know that my DH is relatively self-sufficient, whereas my 2 year old still needs me constantly for whatever reason. I love my DH, of course I do, but my DD would always come first. I know that DH would say the same, if it was a choice between me or the kids for a serious reason, then it would be the kids everytime. I respect him for that.

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