Family life

3 Parent relationships

Sleep on it

Sleep is very important. If you are both sleep deprived, arguments are much more likely to happen. Try taking it in turns to get up at night so one person always has a full night's sleep.

Ask yourself

We encourage partners to ask themselves, 'What is the one thing I can do this week that will make my partner feel special?' and plan time in the diary to do it.

Communicate your feelings

Dealing with the stress involved with having a child (special needs or not) amplifies any problems that already exist. Every day I thank my lucky stars that my wife is with me and my daughter is well... and I tell them both as often as I can that I love them and appreciate all they do. My tips would be communicate, listen and support.

Let them help

Let your partner help when they can. Yes, they may do things differently, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Leave a note

I know parents who have tried tips that we offer for parenting siblings with very positive results! For example, leaving messages around the house for the other to find, reminding the partner how they are appreciated/loved ... or sending a text message.


Respect is very important. Respect your partner's opinions even if you don't share them. That will allow you to move on through disagreements and focus on the positives.

Trust your partner to parent

Trust your partner to parent. Sometimes we shut them out and do things ourselves without giving them a chance.

Play to each other’s strengths

I'm good at paperwork. Hubby is great at housework. So I sort school letters, Disability Living allowance (DLA) forms, statements. Hubby hoovers and mops .

Share issues

Make sure you both understand your child's condition and what it means, so you can talk about how to approach issues. When one of you works full time and the other goes to all the appointments, it's easy for the working partner to feel pushed out and in the dark.

No kids

If you can, make sure you and your partner have ‘you time’ time together without any of your children. It is really important not to forget each other and to keep your relationship strong.

Share it with your best friend

You have to learn to laugh through the stress together or it will crush your relationship. There are ups and downs daily. Communicate everything... fear, anger, humour. Cry, laugh, love, share with your best friend.

No blame

Communication is the key to everything. Understanding that sometimes we get it wrong and not blaming each other.

Keep communication open

Have an agreed plan of how to manage your child and keep communication open between yourselves.

Make light

My husband and I play a game where we place bets with each other which of our 3 disabled children will waken / kick off at what times. The 'winner' gets a treat from the other partner. Sounds silly, but making light of intensely stressful situations really does help.

Make time

Try to make time as a couple, even if it's only to have a chat over a cup of tea once the children are in bed. Talk and listen to each other. Washing up can wait!

Do something nice every day

When we married, my husband and I vowed that we would endeavour to do something nice for the other person every day, small tokens like making a drink or running a bath. In turn, the other person would always appreciate this effort and thank them, not taking it for granted.

Keep talking

It’s very easy to get stuck in a rut where all of what you talk about is the kids, appointments, work and domestic stuff. Make sure you keep talking about all the other interesting things that once brought you together and interests you share. Don't let that go!

Share your tips and feedback

We'd love to hear your tips, practical suggestions and feedback.
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Using these tips

These tips have been contributed by members of our online community. We hope they will give you some ideas to try, but if you need further help why not post a question to the community or talk to one of our community advisors. If you have any concerns about your health or the wellbeing of someone you are caring for, please consult a doctor or qualified professional.