People who struggle with couple conflict and parenting issues have a number of ANTs that are usually inaccurate, exaggerated, and maladaptive. Such thoughts interfere with them leading the kind of family lives they’d like to lead. When you experience ANTs, in the moment they may appear to have the short-term result of validating how you feel and giving you permission to behave negatively toward your partner. However, in the long-term ANTs perpetuate your conflict, hinder your ability to parent well, and stop you from fully enjoying your family life.
ANTs can be the same types of negative thoughts that you learned about in the previous session in of this course. Examples of ANTs that people often have related to couple conflict and parenting include:
- “We are a crazy family.”
- “Arguments are inevitable with my partner.”
- “We will never agree on parenting.”
- “He did that because she doesn’t think I’m a good parent.”
- “I should be better at this. I’m failing as a spouse and a parent.”
- “I already know what she’s thinking.”
The following example shows how an ANT can be challenged during a situation that may provoke conflict between you and your partner:
Next, we look at healthy ways to deal with automatic negative thoughts and provide an exercise to demonstrate the principals in practice.