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Parent relationships: tips for acceptance

Acceptance means living with and valuing differences in others. It’s an important part of your relationship with your partner. It can also help you and your partner adjust to the changes that parenting brings.

What is acceptance?

Acceptance is about valuing your partner’s differences. It’s about being flexible, knowing how to compromise and understanding that people make mistakes.

Acceptance doesn’t mean always agreeing with your partner – it’s OK to agree to disagree. But it does mean believing that your partner is trying to do the right thing.

Acceptance isn’t about tolerating harmful behaviour. If you’re in a relationship that involves family violence, call a helplineseek support and do whatever you need to do to ensure your safety and your children’s safety.

Why acceptance is important in your relationship with your partner

Acceptance helps to keep your relationship healthy.

That’s because acceptance makes it easier to appreciate the good things about your partner and your relationship, leading you towards greater intimacy and care for each other.

When you and your partner feel accepted, you’re more willing to listen to and understand each other’s perspectives and suggestions. This can strengthen your relationship, and it can also make it easier for you and your partner to work as a parenting team.

All of this means acceptance creates a healthier, happier and more positive environment for the whole family.

Tips for strengthening acceptance

Spend time on your relationship

  • Spend time together on shared interests.
  • Ask about your partner’s interests and activities and join in when you can.
  • Do things to show your partner your love and appreciation. It could be as simple as letting your partner have a sleep-in while you look after the children.
  • Think of activities you did together when you first met. Consider what you liked and how you might do those activities together again.
  • Talk with your partner about happy times you’ve had together.

Read more about healthy relationships for parents and partners.

Focus on solving problems

  • If you have a problem, think about what you want to change.
  • Invite your partner to help solve the problem, without blaming or talking about what your partner should or shouldn’t have done.
  • Identify positive ways you can solve the problem, even if your partner doesn’t participate.
  • Get help from others if you need to.

Read more about problem-solving with your partner.

Be generous with your understanding

  • When you’re talking and listening with your partner, remember that it can sometimes be difficult to explain what you want and how you feel to someone else.
  • Encourage your partner to open up by asking open-ended questions and not interrupting.
  • Ask your partner to explain or give more information if you don’t understand what’s being said.
  • Listen, without defending your own position or behaviour.
  • Acknowledge your partner’s point of view even if you don’t agree. For example, ‘I can understand why you’re angry that I asked my parents to stay for the weekend without talking to you first’.
  • Avoid jumping to conclusions, blaming or criticising your partner.
  • Assume the best in your partner – for example, ‘I know that you’re working long hours because you want to take care of us’.

Read more about talking with your partner and listening to your partner.

Look after yourself

  • Set time aside each day or week to do something you enjoy. For example, have a bath, play netball, read a book, watch TV and so on.
  • Pursue your own work or creative interests. For example, do a short course, play a musical instrument and so on.
  • Look after your physical health, have regular check-ups with your doctor, and eat well.
  • Make a deal with a friend to care for each other’s children so that you can have a break or go on a date with your partner.
  • Think about what’s important in your life – for example, affection, fun, financial security, family time and so on. Look for ways to achieve these things, including seeking help from your partner, friends, family, support groups and professionals.

Read more about looking after yourself.

Getting help

If you and your partner are finding it really hard to accept each other’s differences or you’re concerned about your partner’s behaviour, it’s important to get help. You could speak to a trusted friend, GP or professional counsellor.

It’s good for you and your partner to get help as a couple. But if your partner isn’t interested, it’s still worth seeking support, even by yourself.

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Last updated or reviewed
01-05-2018

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Raising Children Network is supported by the Australian Government. Member organisations are the Parenting Research Centre and the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute with The Royal Children’s Hospital Centre for Community Child Health.

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