Healthy Relationship: Going Nuts? (cont.)

Family co-ops -- groups that trade baby-sitting services on a noncash basis -- can be helpful, too, particularly since many new parents are tight on cash. But Douglas says to make sure you understand the arrangements (for instance, decide upfront if it'll be hour for hour), and that your child-rearing philosophies and personalities are in sync.

Katherine Oberholtzer found that a co-op was particularly useful to her as a new parent reluctant to leave her first baby. "We knew the other couples had already been through it and they weren't going to panic or give up," she says. They stopped when it became a burden to sit for families with much older kids and different house rules.

If you lose your gumption because your child is wailing at the front window as you pull out of the driveway, take heart. As long as you have a nurturing, attentive sitter, the little one will probably stop crying before you turn the corner.

And think about how you're helping to lay the foundation for your child's own healthy relationships later on. "When parents value each other, are happy to see each other and keep each other's needs in focus, their children learn the importance of marital closeness," says Judith Siegel, a social worker and author of "What Children Learn From Their Parents' Marriage" (HarperCollins, 2000). Give yourself time alone with your spouse or your partner -- and give your kids valuable lessons in intimacy.

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Last Editorial Review: 1/30/2005 11:41:10 PM