We met, fell in love, got married, gave birth to children, brought up, released into the adult world, waited for grandchildren, celebrated a golden wedding … This good old image of a friendly and happy family, it seemed, would never be overthrown from the pedestal. However, divorce has become commonplace today and is not as dramatized as it was twenty years ago.
“My children’s mother and I parted as a couple, but we still work with them in equal proportions and are good friends, while everyone has their own relationship,” says 35-year-old Vladimir. “The children have an extended family and two homes.” Such a relationship between separated parents has become almost the norm.
But what Russia is not yet accustomed to is contract parenting. In today’s Europe, this model of relations is becoming more and more common, and in our country they are just beginning to try it. How does it differ from a traditional union and how is it attractive?
A marriage of friendship and convenience
There are several options for such a contract. For example, two people create relationships not as partners, but as parents – solely in order to give birth, raise and raise a child. That is, no love and no sex. It’s just that both want to have children and agree on the “Child” project, calculating budgets, running a household.
This is what 32-year-old Gennady and his girlfriend did: “We know each other from school, we have never had an affair, we are great friends. We both really want children. I think we will be super-awesome mom and dad. I know her parents, she is mine. Therefore, we do not expect unpleasant surprises in terms of heredity, characters or bad habits. Isn’t that enough? Now we have moved on to the implementation of our project. Both are undergoing examination and preparing for pregnancy with IVF. “
Or it may be like this: they lived and were like a couple, loved each other, and then something changed, and the child is already there and both parents love him. This is not the case when partners live together “for the sake of a daughter or son” out of guilt before them, harassing each other with scandals and hatred, and wait 18 years to finally scatter. And they just rationally decide to be together under the same roof as parents, but to lead their personal life separately. And no claims to each other.
This decision was made by 29-year-old Alena and 30-year-old Eduard, who were married 7 years ago for love. Now their daughter is 4 years old. They decided that the lack of love is not a reason to disperse and leave the common apartment.
“We have assigned responsibilities around the house, made a schedule for cleaning, purchasing food, taking turns taking care of our daughter and her activities. Both I and Edik are working, – Alena explains. – We are good people, but no longer lovers, although we live in the same apartment. We agreed so because the daughter has the right to one house and both parents are close. It’s fair to her and to each other. “
“I am happy that my egg helped my friends to be happy”
But a couple of 39-year-old Andrey and 35-year-old Katerina have not been able to conceive a child for more than 10 years, despite all the possibilities of new technologies. Katerina’s friend offered to carry Andrei’s child.
“I myself have no opportunity to raise him,” says 33-year-old Maria. – Probably, God did not give me something in terms of the motherhood instinct, some important mental components. And here there are people who only think about it. I am happy that my egg helped my friends become happy. I can see how my son grows up, take part in his life, but they are the best parents for him. “
At first, new family relationships can be shocking: their difference is too great from what was considered a model before! But they have their advantages.
New relationships between partners imply honesty. Adults “on the shore” agree on a responsible decision to become a mom and dad and distribute responsibilities. They do not expect love and loyalty from each other, they have no unjustified demands.
“It seems to me that this removes a huge headache from the parents and broadcasts to the child:“ we do not play any games, we do not disguise ourselves as a loving couple. We are your parents, ”commented Amir Tagiyev, business coach, specialist in working with children and adolescents. “At the same time, parents can be quite happy.”
And the child in this case sees around him happy as a maximum and calm – at least – adults.
In the classic version of the family, it was assumed that life together is possible without love.
The situation in traditional families is much more complicated: there, according to Amir Tagiyev, often “lies flourish with incredible bouquets”, relations are full of betrayals, offenses, and claims. A man and a woman would have divorced long ago, but they are “held” by a child. As a result, all the parents’ anger at each other pours out on him.
“In my conversations with teenagers, the topic of photo albums often comes up,” explains Amir Tagiyev. – Here in the photo are happy young dad and mom, and now they are unhappy when the child appeared. They have worried faces. You and I understand that they have matured, they really have worries. But the child does not have this understanding. He sees how it was and how it became. And he concludes: “I ruined everything with my appearance. They are the ones who always fight because of me. ” I wonder what faces we will see in the photo albums of “contractual” families …
Change of values
In the classic version of the family, it was assumed that life together is possible without love, says the child psychologist, specialist in clinical developmental psychology Alexander Venger.
Considerations of duty, decency, stability played a much larger role: “Much less importance was attached to the emotional side of relationships than today. Earlier, collectivism was the leading value in society, which was inevitably projected onto the family model. The principle worked: people are cogs. We have no time for feelings. Conformism was encouraged – changing behavior under the influence of social pressure. Now activity is encouraged, independence in decision-making and actions, individualism. 30 years ago, we, Russians, experienced a powerful social change, when the old system actually died out, and the new one is still being built. “
And in this new building model, the interests of the individual come to the fore. Love in a relationship has become important, and if it does not exist, then it seems that there is no point in being together. Previously, if a husband and wife stopped loving each other, it was considered natural: love passes, but the family remains. But along with new values, instability came to our life, and the world became atomized, the psychologist believes. The tendency to “decay into atoms” permeates the family as well. She focuses less and less on “we” and more and more on “me”.
Three components of a healthy family
Regardless of the family format, three conditions are necessary for healthy parent-child relationships, says Alexander Venger, child psychologist and specialist in clinical developmental psychology.
1. Respectfully treat the child, regardless of his age and gender. Why do we communicate so differently: with adults as equals, and from top to bottom – with children? Even if the child has just been born, it is worth treating him as a person, on equal terms.
2. Openly communicate emotionally with the child. First of all, this concerns positive emotions. If the parent is happy, it’s worth sharing it. If you are upset, upset, then this too can and should be shared with the child, but carefully. Parents are often afraid to hug one more time, to be kind and not strict, they are afraid to spoil the child if they hug him a lot. No, they do not indulge in this, but when they fulfill any requirements. And you cannot spoil with tenderness and love.
3. Remember that the child not only prepares for the future, but lives in the present. He now has children’s interests in addition to those that are addressed to the future. So that it doesn’t turn out that the child learns something from morning to night, so that later he can go to college. School is not the only content of his life. The postulate “let it be uninteresting, but useful and useful later” does not work. And even more so, instead of playing and having fun, you should not force him to go through the school cycle at preschool age. He should feel comfortable now, because this is what will affect his future: a sustainable childhood increases resistance to stress in adulthood.
In the new system of world order, the “I” of our children has gradually become more and more clearly manifested, which affects their relations with their parents. Thus, modern adolescents claim greater independence from their “ancestors”. “As a rule, they are better oriented in the virtual world than fathers and mothers,” explains Alexander Venger. – But their everyday dependence on adults is only growing, which exacerbates the teenage conflict. And the old ways of resolving conflicts are becoming unacceptable. If past generations regularly beat children, now this has ceased to be the norm and has become a socially unacceptable form of education. And then, I think, there will be less and less physical punishment. “
The consequence of rapid changes is the confusion of parents, the psychologist believes. Previously, the model by which generation after generation was brought up was simply reproduced at the next round of the family system. But today’s parents do not understand: here the son got into a fight – should we scold him for assault or praise that he won? How to respond, how to properly prepare children for the future, when in the present the old attitudes instantly become outdated? Including the idea of the need for close communication between family members.
Today, both in Europe and in Russia, there is a trend to minimize attachments.
“A person easily moves in space, he does not cling to a house, city, country, – says Amir Tagiyev. – My German friend was sincerely perplexed as to why buy an apartment: “What if you want to move? You can rent it! ” The unwillingness to be attached to a particular place extends to other attachments. This applies to partners, tastes, and habits. In a family where there is no cult of attachment, the child will receive more freedom, a more distinct sense of himself as a person and the right to say what he thinks, to live as he wants. ” Such children will be more confident in themselves.
A child’s self-confidence, according to Amir Tagiyev, appears when he realizes: “This world needs me, and I need the world,” when he grows up in a family where he knows exactly what his parents need, and they – him. That, having come into this world, he increased the joy of other people. And not vice versa.
“New models of relations are built on open agreements, and hopefully all participants will have enough mutual respect in them. I do not see any risks for children. We can expect that if people live together specifically for the sake of a child, then at least they will take serious enough care of him, because this is their main goal, ”emphasizes Alexander Venger.
“The relationship between father and mother in a family of a contractual type is not about submission (the husband is the head of the family, or vice versa), but about partnership – honest, open, spoken down to the smallest details: from the time with the child to the financial contribution of everyone,” says Amir Tagiyev … – Here the value is different – equal rights and obligations and mutual respect. For a child, this is the truth in which he will grow. This is the antithesis of the model prevailing now, when a parent knows better how a son or daughter should live, who to be friends with, what to do, what to dream about and where to go after school. Where the teacher knows best what you read, what to teach and what to feel at the same time.
A family in a changing world will find a place for both a child and love
Should we expect that the future belongs to contract parenting? Rather, it is a “growing pain”, a transitional stage, the business coach is sure. The pendulum swung from the position “Children are the fruit of love” to “For the sake of a child, I am ready for a relationship without feelings for a partner.”
“This model is not final, but it will shake society up and force us to reconsider relationships within the family. And we will ask ourselves the questions: do we know how to negotiate? Are we ready to hear each other? Are we able to respect a baby from the cradle? ” – sums up Amir Tagiyev.
Perhaps, in such families, society will be able to learn, as on a simulator, the ability to build partnerships differently. And a family in a changing world will find a place for both a child and love.
What’s wrong with Sunday dad?
Today there are many children who, after the divorce of their parents, have two families – a father’s and a mother’s. This has also become a new format for parenting. How can adults build relationships so that the child is comfortable? Child psychologist Alexander Venger advises.
It is imperative that the child maintains communication with both parents. Otherwise, you risk one day, when your son or daughter grows up, to be accused that you set him up against your father or mother and deprived your second parent, and that he does not want to communicate with you anymore.
What is not useful for children is the Sunday Dad family format. It turns out that the child spends his weekdays, filled with an early rise to kindergarten and school, checking homework, regime requirements and other not always pleasant routine, with his mother, and dad is a holiday, gifts, entertainment. It is better to share responsibilities equally so that both parents get both “sticks” and “carrots”. But if dad does not have the opportunity to take care of the child on weekdays, you need to allocate a weekend when mom will have fun with the child.
Parents should not speak ill of each other, no matter how offended and angry they may be. If one of the two still speaks badly about the other, you need to explain to the child: “Dad (or mom) is offended at me. Let’s be condescending to him. ” Or “He’s gone and feels guilty. And he wants to prove to everyone and to himself that it is not he who is to blame, but me. That’s why he talks about me like that. It’s in the heat of the moment, he just can’t deal with his feelings. ” Anyone who speaks badly about the other parent hurts his child: after all, he perceives not only words, but also emotions, and hostility hurts him.