Happy Parents Make Good Parents
Babies are exhausting like nothing else; and in around one in six families, at least one of the parents gets depressed within a few months of the birth
This is particularly upsetting when you are both supposed to be so happy about the baby. With the tiredness and stress, we can drift, like sleep-walkers, into patterns that make us unhappy with ourselves and with each other. We stick with what we think we should do; we can't see out of the box at what we could do. And the longer we sleep-walk, the harder it is to change things.
Only one in five couples say their relationship gets better after a baby is born. One in three children experience their parents' separation before they reach the age of 16; and couples with children are much more likely to split than couples without children. What's more, almost one child in three who lives with both their birth parents sees their father as quite a distant figure and doesn't feel close to him.
We are pressured by society into thinking that what comes first is our children, and that our relationship with each other can wait. In a recent opinion poll, however, 70 per cent of teenagers said that their parents' 'getting on well together' was critical to their own happiness but only 30 per cent of parents thought this was important. The teenagers are right.
A survey of 7000 children in 2009 by the Children's Society found that the biggest influence on children's happiness is family relationships. And what is more, the relationship between parents has a huge impact on their own abilities to be good parents.
Top Relationship Tipstalking and listening
maintaining a good sex life
being fair with money
getting help early when things are getting out of hand
About DuncanI was on my way to the airport when Clare's first positive pregnancy test came through. I knew then and there that my international work was over for the time being. Since 1997 I have worked from home - and I have raised millions of pounds for different programmes in that time. What is more, I have become a leading campaigner for family and employment policies that let both mums and dads 'have it all' - good work AND the opportunity to be close to their children.
* I was nominated a Working Family Champion 1979-2009 by the leading charity, Working Families in 2009
* I served for three years on the Board of the Equal Opportunities Commission, the UK's Government body responsible for gender equality
* I have worked with Government and industry on family friendly work
* I founded and was CEO of the Fatherhood Institute, putting the spotlight on men as parents
* I got an OBE for services to children from the Queen in 2009
But most significantly: I DID IT ALL WORKING FROM HOME! Why? Because I want to be as fully involved as possible in the lives of my children. We all live in the Brecon Beacons National Park in Wales, and the grandparents live close by. In a recent survey of happiness in the UK, our region came out top for all of the UK. And our local pub keeps getting nominated Pub of the Year UK!
My TOP TIP for time with children: for each child, organise two special weekends, one just with mum and one just with dad. Start as soon as breastfeeding is over. (And then try to get in a weekend with just mum and dad!)
Duncan has written a book called Baby's Here! Who Does What? (How to split the work without splitting up).
You can buy the book from www.amazon.co.uk or www.WhoDoesWhatBook.com