The Biggest Change Ever – When Adding One Means Adding Ten

Can you think about a situation when adding one means adding ten? Take a moment to think about this conundrum before you read on. Don’t cheat.

Did you find the answer? Well, here it is…

When your first child is born.

I first became aware of this change a few months after our son was born 20 years ago (1987). No one alerted me to this phenomenon so I felt I had discovered something big, and since then I have explained this countless times over when coaching managers and friends who were about to become parents for the first time.

Before a couple has their first child, they have no idea how exponentially more compound their situation is about to become. From two relationships the equation evolves into twelve relationships. That’s right. This is not a print mistake. 12 relationships! But you need to sensitize yourself before you realize it. Here is how it works. First there is just the two of you. This means there are two relationships. Your relationship with your spouse and your spouse’s relationship with you. Put differently, there is how A relates to B and how B relates to A.

Now, when the two become a triangle with the addition of child, ten more relationships are added to the equation to total 12 relationships all together:

  1. Father’s relationship with mother
  2. Father’s relationship with child
  3. Father’s relationship with mother in the child’s presence
  4. Father’s relationship with child in the mother’s presence
  5. Mother’s relationship with father
  6. Mother’s relationship with child
  7. Mother’s relationship with father in the child’s presence
  8. Mother’s relationship with child in the father’s presence
  9. Childs’s relationship with father
  10. Child relationship with mother
  11. Childs’s relationship with father in the mother’s presence
  12. Child’s relationship with mother in the father’s presence

For those of you with two children… well, can we get a clever mathematician to help us here – how many dynamics of relationships are there in a family with two children and in a family with three children? I’ll let you work out how this applies to the in-laws on your own.

© Aviv Shahar

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