How fulfilling is parenting

Parents between longing for happiness and everyday stress - a navigation aid for fathers and mothers when dealing with their children!

Yes, the dream of eternally young love is always booming. Even economic crises do not let the butterflies in the belly of lovers fall into depression. They romp around carefree - away from political crises and financial ebb - and drive additional shifts while producing their well-known tingling feeling. Even the gloomy prospects for the euro can hardly tarnish the happiness of true lovers.

Social crises actually increase the longing for an intact or even ideal world. Because if our savings no longer bring interest and the job is insecure, at least happy relationships should be a refuge of security and security, give our longings and hopes a refuge. In this way, lively and stable partnerships create a solid basis for being able to bear or endure financial impairments, professional setbacks, insidious diseases or other blows of fate more confidently.

Reliability and trust as prerequisites for happiness in relationships

If you - perhaps as a child or adolescent - had the opportunity to listen to reports from grandparents or other contemporary witnesses from the war or post-war generation, then such connections become tangible in a very concrete way. A 90-year-old told me: “If our faith in our marital fidelity hadn't been so great, if we hadn't lived in the confidence of our deep love, where should we have got the strength from, even after the second bombing in a completely destroyed one Cologne and 10 years of separation due to the war, not to give up hope for a better future? ”It can be assumed that a lot of people have experienced this in a similar way. On this background, the so-called economic miracle is actually a very sober demonstration of life experience: 'Strength grows from the hope for better times, and stable path communities are the breeding ground for strong and satisfied partnerships, which thus offer the greatest prospect of the to offer the desired success in life '.

In “Sunday speeches” it is often emphasized that “partnership and family” are the German's greatest good. Pollsters also continuously confirm this assessment. If so, the high number of divorces and the many broken relationships among unmarried couples can only be an unwanted or negligent disaster. It is probably also due to the fact that too many men and women start their relationship life with rather naive ideas or inadequate prerequisites. Inexperience in successful communication, insufficient knowledge of the important prerequisites for a balanced couple and family life, a weak giving and hearing ego lead such relationships to failure.

A look into the personal environment reveals that more and more couples who have begun their relationship with hopeful expectations are too quickly caught up in considerable turbulence. Often times, separation is seen as the only way out. It is not uncommon for this to happen according to the maxim: 'First coveted, then dumped cold'! In almost half of all divorces or separations, however, not only the partners themselves, but also their children are affected when what once belonged together is separated. If the couples were to see beforehand that the targeted termination of a relationship is often the beginning of years of long-term, often also legal disputes, humiliation, financial burdens and considerable long-term psychosomatic impairments, many would certainly act differently.

“We failed to keep our marriage alive. As parents, our engine was mostly running at full speed and we worked perfectly, but as a couple we paid too little attention to breaks when we were together and lost sight of some of the necessary pit stops or oil changes. I can see that very clearly today, but it took a long time to realize that, ”said a woman in her late thirties in a counseling interview after the relationship crash. And she adds: "I don't blame my ex-husband for this, we got lost in the hustle and bustle of everyday life and noticed it much too late."

Based on my many years of experience in couples counseling, I come to the conclusion that almost 80% of couples who break up could have avoided this with better conditions and more regular self-control. Running away in a crisis or diving into the arms of someone new as quickly as possible and not coming to terms with the reasons for failure is more than naive. It is always fascinating when a small child, standing in the middle of a room, closes its eyes and asks with age-appropriate carefree: 'Where am I?' But who is the use if after years adults turn a blind eye to realities they have created themselves?

No matter where there is a need for improvement in the respective partnerships, couples ignore these relationships and do not regularly create small or larger time offs in order to intensely share life emotionally, mentally and physically, this will lead to division in the long run. Because the energy strength of a couple or a family depends not only on a healthy and beneficial lifestyle and fulfilling, challenging tasks but also on systematic and careful care. This realization is an ultimate message, because breaking partnerships is not a law of nature!

A regular 'check up' of everyday relationships as a preventive measure

But what has to happen so that a partnership does not end in disaster between the daily pressure of deadlines and important requirements? We have to prepare ourselves better for the various expected challenges and strongly increase our own level of courage and ability. In addition, couples would have to subject their interaction to a regular check-up - at least once a year - just as doctors have to be visited regularly to maintain health and cars are regularly checked by the TÜV. Then it would have to be clarified which weak points in the cooperation should be compensated for, how fallow land should be sensibly filled and respective strengths should be optimized.

Specific questions can be - based on a car workshop:

  • Is the chassis still in order or - what is the mainstay of your relationship?
  • Which units could have overheated or - where are specific improvements to be made?
  • How functional are the brakes or - are you adequately under control?
  • Does the ignition still work or - where are there disturbances in your everyday relationship?
  • Is the reserve tank big enough or - are you well equipped for dry spells?

If these or similar questions for self-reassurance are not asked regularly and dealt with conscientiously, major problems will soon set in in everyday relationships. In the other case, the need for improvement is recognized earlier and addressed more effectively. It is worthwhile to regularly intensify the time for this course review. Because: relationship problems create parenting problems, parenting problems create relationship problems, professional problems create family problems, family problems create professional problems. And all of these problems are the breeding ground for a variety of diseases and conflict scenarios.

A new challenge - and one that was consciously brought about by most couples - begins with the birth of the first child and is usually reinforced by further children. Often after a short time, when the joy of childbirth is heavily overlaid by sleepless nights, recurring new processes and necessary changes, the sentence comes up: 'When we were still childless, it usually worked quite well'. Some arguments are obvious:

Children make sense, do work and bring about a number of changes

  • The money in hand left a lot more leeway for this and that!
  • The time and leisure time could be allocated much more easily!
  • There was no time or physical strain when dealing with children!
  • In the area of ​​erotic and sexuality, a lot was more spontaneous and uncomplicated!
  • The question, are you going to do it or should I ... when the youngsters get in touch, has not yet been asked!
  • There was no need to discuss or argue about how to deal with breastfeeding, whining and screaming!
  • And the question: who will take care of the children and to what extent after the maternity leave period can no longer be postponed!

Yes, children really mess up life in a partnership. If no viable and satisfactorily viable decisions are made between the young parents that adequately take into account the needs of the fathers and mothers as well as those of the infant or the children as a whole, those involved quickly get into trouble. With regard to the distribution of tasks between family work (household, children, organizational management) and gainful employment, a lack of recognition of domestic achievements is often rightly complained. Often it is not about the activity within the old or new role distributions, but about a lack of social and intra-family recognition. Satisfaction and balance are always the result of a concrete, experienced appreciation of the services provided. If it does not take place, regardless of whether it is at work or within a family context, it will always lead to conflicts in the long run.

More social recognition for the family as the nucleus of society

According to the Viennese social ethicist Johannes Messner, the family is the “cell of renewal in society in biological, moral and cultural terms”. In striking contrast to the importance of the family, however, is the low status that can be seen in public action in a market- and employment-centered society. "This largely neglects the concerns of families and households in a criminally way and deals with the family performance potential in a more exploitative than strengthening manner", says Max Wingen in his "Family-political food for thought (s)". Since economic interests and children's needs are miles apart, many parents feel left alone in this upbringing phase:

  • Because the economy demands the greatest possible flexibility, but the family is based on stability and continuity and loses out in the process, ’says philosopher Dieter Thomä. And the children are hardest hit.
  • Because the current policy - shaped by economic lobbyists - is directed against children. Family associations demand that economic processes have to be geared much more closely to children's needs, because 'closeness, security and reliability' cannot be regulated and quoted.
  • Because too much egoism and career striving shape our society. A connection that is often observed: 'The more societies orient themselves towards consumption and prosperity, the more threatened the living space of children is.
  • Because many parents see themselves overwhelmed with the task of bringing up - mostly parallel to these negative social influences. A common argument: 'If it is so difficult to raise your upbringing, then we should better outsource these tasks'

Business lobbyists and too many politicians have not yet understood that our society must create better framework conditions for families for the sake of their own future. Because in addition to inexpensive raw materials or well-functioning machines, 'human resources' are of the greatest importance. Politicians and entrepreneurs usually treat the family as an uneconomical depreciation asset because it only costs money and does not bring anything. This momentous fallacy reveals a limited understanding of productivity relationships. If it were taken into account that families 'create' suitable renewable producers and consumers through their upbringing, investments would have to be made in this area as well as in the development or human resources departments of companies. All social forces - in particular politics and business associations - would have to take into account much more clearly in their everyday actions: 'Children are the genetic make-up of a society and strong families are its backbone'!

Confidently introduced all-round management to shape family life

If an unfriendly upbringing and family climate has developed in society, the daily variety in the home environment is easily perceived as stupid. In contrast, professional life outside of the home is often presented in the most beautiful colors, despite all the stress. Even if the back hurts and monotony prevails, even less demanding activities are usually presented as more valuable and more fulfilling than preparing one's own children for life. Many take on a lot to fend off the degrading label only housewife ’, which is mostly done by women.

In addition, a small incident dating back years. Mrs. Pfiffig accepted an evening invitation that would bring her together with many working women. When, as a presumed der full-time housewife and mother ’, she was asked the question of questions’ at the start of a small talk session about what she does for a living, the answer was visibly irritating. She said, “I am the manager of a very growth-oriented small human resource company. In it I am responsible for the development of sustainable life models, especially for children and young people. This task is very varied, requires a lot of commitment and creativity and I really enjoy it. " Then one of the listeners was a bit puzzled: “And I thought you were only a housewife”. Whereupon came the telling note: "You can see how broad the family-related spectrum of tasks is between children, kitchen, appointment organization and career planning for the youngsters." It goes without saying that this self-confident job description can of course also be carried out by a househusband.

Qualification impulse for better coping with the educational task

Regardless of these social implications: In order to grow up, children need parents who give time for positive affection and impart personal competence. In order to do justice to this task, parents need not only the appropriate time and better social and professional framework conditions, but also appropriate qualifications. This is the only way they can choose for their range of tasks

  • biological
  • more emotional
  • social and
  • skill-oriented life preparation

be well prepared to lovingly and consistently lead the children entrusted to them into life!

But there are still too many people who assume that with the act of procreation they have also acquired the ability to raise the offspring who will soon be born. This is why it is made clear here: A parenting qualification seminar should be on the program for future fathers and mothers during pregnancy. The project of the child protection association 'Strong parents strong children', step seminars, Triple P courses or the educational driving licenses offered here and there by family education centers are exemplary here. A memento: Pregnancy gymnastics make biological exercises easier Childbirth, Educational seminars ensure adequate and sustainable parent-child connection.

A pronounced conflict avoidance management as the basis of family life

"In contrast to the purchase of high-tech devices, men and women are usually not supplied with operating instructions for use in partnerships, even if some special usage instructions could avoid or reduce some disruptions" (Wunsch 2013). In addition, it would have to be clarified who would be responsible for recognizable warranty claims.

The ability to get into conflict or to trigger it seems to be much more pronounced in most couples (and people) than to be able to avoid them. It is not about striving for a 'peace-joy-pancake world', but rather the ability to bring in different points of view, wishes or needs in such a way that solutions or compromises are possible. Unstable people constantly perceive - sometimes even simple questions or hints - as devaluation or attack, then immediately slip into contradiction and react with aggressive or depressive reaction patterns.People with a stable ME, on the other hand, do not allow themselves to be blown by the 'first headwind', do not see themselves as the center of the world, contribute to the community, deal skillfully with tensions and conflicts, can give in without giving up and create one for themselves Serenity Stock. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe left us: "We have to cultivate our qualities, not our peculiarities."

Typical disturbances in cooperation and some practical help

If there are frequent disputes about upbringing, if there are unjust distributions in childcare and housekeeping, if joint decisions are unilaterally overturned, then those involved will soon run out of steam. In order not to get into such situations in the first place or at least to get out of it quickly, here are a few practical tips:

A good starting question for visualizing the state of your relationship between wellbeing and inadequacy: 'What are the main obstacles to getting into more depth with your partner in order to create a harmonious relationship?' Take the necessary answer Time and then share your results. Clarification / repositioning can then be initiated point by point. The results are recorded in writing and the first steps towards improvement are coordinated. The most important facts: Who does what ... differently or not, are also noted and finally a date is recorded for the follow-up inspection.

So that parents do not feel overwhelmed with the educational task, here is a basic position:

  • Relationship is the basis of all human life!
  • Targeted educational action is necessary and can be learned!
  • Parents can only act effectively from a solid authority (not to be confused with authoritarian)
  • Important action goals are to be agreed upon in partnership and marriage!

Important: Only those who regularly check the extent of internal tension or stressful situations can ensure a balanced internal pressure at an early stage, before one starts to burst. Ad hoc test questions in the event of conflicts:

  • Is it me?
  • Is it because of the opposite?
  • Is it the situation?

"Mutually falling into words" increases the intensity of the syllable production per minute and often also that of the blood pressure, but the ability to communicate is extremely reduced to the same extent "(Wunsch 2013).

Within parental dealings with children is the Pampering a basic evil. This creates a lot of stress for the parents. The children are discouraged at the same time and their development towards independence and social competence is deliberately prevented! Here parents and other educators are called upon to understand the serious negative consequences of avoiding exertion. The click in the head is therefore the most important prerequisite for not falling into the indulgence trap.

Important when dealing with children: Many parents and other educators oscillate too often between being under-challenged, letting go and being tough. Hence the three unity of an effective education:

  • benevolent
  • exemplifying and
  • consequent

Important: Consistency without benevolence is hardship! Consistency without a past life is a lie! Benevolence without consequence is cowardice!

How to deal with expectations!

  • How are you being expressed?
  • What are the expectations?
  • Who are they addressed to?
  • Who is responsible for the fulfillment?
  • What is the reaction to non-fulfillment?

Remember: 'Expectations are mostly agreements with someone else without their involvement'!

A miraculous approach to action: 'What can / could / should I contribute to making the bad mood and the current togetherness better or the problem smaller?' By differentiating between action and agent! Through forgiveness, reconciliation and perspective clarification! A formula for success: 'Whatever you want to happen to you, do it for the other!'

A startling final sentence: "When love goes to sleep, you should have a suitable alarm clock!"

Despite all the practical tips and some hopeful appeals, one final thought on grounding: Anyone looking for heaven on earth in a partnership (but also in single life) has not paid close attention to geography, religion or ideology.

Further reading by the author

  • Wunsch, Albert (2013): Pit stop for couples - so that their relationship runs smoothly. Munich 2011, 2nd ed.
  • Wunsch, Albert (2013): The Pampering Trap. For an education for more personal responsibility, Munich 2000; 14. completely revised and substantially supplemented new edition, Munich.
  • Wunsch, Albert (2015): With more self to the stable ME. Resilience as the basis of personality development. Heidelberg 2013, second edition.
  • Wunsch, Albert (2007): Farewell to fun education. For a change of course in education. Munich 2003, 4th edition Munich.
  • Wunsch, Albert (2014): Sharing life with reliability and love. In: Church and Society. Mönchengladbach, issue 407/2014.

Further contributions by the author can be found here in our family handbook


Dr. Albert Wunsch is a psychologist with a degree in social education, a degree in education and a doctorate in education. Before he started teaching at the Catholic University of North Rhine-Westphalia in Cologne in 2004 (area of ​​social affairs), he headed the Catholic youth welfare office in Neuss for around 25 years. In 2013 he started teaching full-time at the University of Economics and Management (FOM) in Essen / Neuss. He has also been teaching at the Philosophical Faculty of the University of Düsseldorf for many years and works in his own practice as a couple, parenting, life and conflict counselor as well as a supervisor and conflict coach (DGSv). He is the father of 2 sons and the grandfather of 3 granddaughters.


Dr. Albert Wunsch, Im Hawisch 17, 41470 Neuss


discontinued on June 16, 2015