At The San Francisco Marriage and Couples Center, our therapists understand that becoming parents can often be very overwhelming and stressful.

We believe that parents need to understand and make sense of what co-parenting means. We help parents with self-care, communication, and a safe place to talk about their difficulties. 

New parents are always over the moon at the arrival of a newborn baby.  However, when it is your first child becoming parents can often be very overwhelming and stressful. You and your partner probably have become very comfortable with the routine of when it was just the two of you. And the arrival of a newborn baby changes everything. It changes your routine and the dynamic of your relationship. No matter how much you are excited, this new addition to your family, puts new demands and new pressures on your relationship. Becoming parents causes a new dynamic and type of struggle in the relationship that you have never had before.



As you may imagine, sleep deprivation is hard on new parents and can be a source of stress within the relationship. Having a new born baby requires waking up every four hours for breast feeling, a diaper change and making sure your baby is comfortable. Sleep deprivation usually make people feel more irritated or short with one another which may lead to misinterpretations  and arguments. Therefore, couples at this stage need to be particularily careful about their communication.


The early stages of having a new family member can be very stressful as both partners begin to adjust to the new demands placed on them. Baby seems to need mama all the time for breast feeding and for comfort. The other partner's role is to change diapers and provide comfort. In many cases, partner (papa or baba) may begin to feel a little left out and jealous of all the time that baby gets to spend with mama. Either partner may feel too tired and unavailable for the other's emotional needs which may lead to disconnection. 


Couples may have different ideas on how to spend money on their child. One parent may want to send their child to day care and the other wants to have a live-in nanny. Other issues may surface around whether to have a joint bank account or how the bread winner provides financially to the primary caretaker. Also differences may arise with two successful high earners in deciding who will go back to work and who will stay home to be with the child. These issues, if not discussed early-on, may cause on going tension and conflict. 


Many couples differ on the best way to raise their child and are often surprised about how strongly they feel about the matter. Most couples have differences in parenting styles. These parenting styles are authoritarian (emphasizing obedience), permissive (very few boundaries and guidelines for behaving), and authoritative (which blends a caring tone with structure and consistent limit-setting). Having different parenting style may cause couples to have fights and to feel disconnected and distant. 


For some couples making a family involves creating family traditions and rituals. Some families enjoy having dinner together, while others do not view this as important. Other families celebrate birthdays, mother’s day and father’s day, while others celebrate religious holidays and ceremonies. Depending on your own family religious or cultural background, you will find that each of you may have a different idea of how you would like to create a family. This is a potential source of conflict when both partners do not have the same values, or disagree about what is an important family function.