Who do you attend to first if your spouse and kids are crying?

A parenting expert says people should put their relationship with their spouse first if the partner and children are all crying.

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Te Karere Scarborough from the Parenting Place gives his thoughts. Source: Seven Sharp

Seven Sharp wondered who should be attended to first if a spouse and the kids are crying at the same time.

The show asked Te Karere Scarborough of the Parenting Place in Auckland for his wisdom on the matter. 

"I'm going to go out on a limb here and I'm going to say I reckon you should actually put your relationship first as a priority," Mr Scarborough said.

Asked why, he said, "Look, kids are busy being kids. And all the time that we spend prioritising them puts them at the centre of our world. 

"And sometimes actually that can put a lot of pressure on our kids. And that pressure isn't always stabilising for them. When kids realise they've got all of the power, all of this control, they start asking, 'who's in charge around here?'

"And so the more you balance your relationship and focus on your relationship with your spouse, actually the more secure they can feel."

How to prioritise your relationship depends on what "season" you and your whānau are in right now, Mr Scarborough suggested.

"If you've got three kids under five years old, you're not going to go away on these wonderful holidays outside of your city. And so putting your...relationship first might look like making sure you don't watch that Netflix episode until your spouse is there at night.

"When the kids get older, it means maybe going out on dinners."

On that point, his tip is to make sure when you do go out for dinner you're not just talking about the kids.

Returning to the question of who to run to first when your spouse and kids are crying, Mr Scarborough said he thinks "in crisis situations" you want to look after the kids.

"They have less capacity to deal with all of their big emotions."

It's okay for kids to wait for attention as well, he said. 

"So if one of your children comes up to interrupt you, and you're in an adult conversation, telling them to wait is actually a good thing for them," the expert advised.