Relationships Spouses & Partners Marital Problems Why Treating Your Partner Like a Child Can Destroy Your Relationship By Sheri Stritof Sheri Stritof Sheri Stritof has written about marriage and relationships for 20+ years. She's the co-author of The Everything Great Marriage Book. Learn about our editorial process Updated on June 09, 2022 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by Carly Snyder, MD Medically reviewed by Carly Snyder, MD Facebook LinkedIn Twitter Carly Snyder, MD is a reproductive and perinatal psychiatrist who combines traditional psychiatry with integrative medicine-based treatments. Learn about our Medical Review Board Print Hybrid Images/Cultura/Getty Images It doesn't make any difference if your partner doesn't get up on time, has horrible taste in clothes, forgets appointments or to take pills, loses the car keys, or never picks things up. If you parent your partner, you are actually showing them a lack of acceptance and a lack of respect. Putting yourself in the role of "parent" and your partner in the role of "child" is demeaning and can actually be counterproductive. Your partner might come to resent you for taking on a controlling role in your relationship. This can cause serious damage to your marriage. If you have an immature or irresponsible partner, you might need to repeat this mantra to yourself often: I am their partner, not their parent. Once you identify the pattern, it might help to seek counseling as a couple to work on resolving it together. What Is Infantilization? Signs of Parenting Behaviors in a Romantic Relationship There are some behaviors that are appropriate in your interactions with your kids, but not with your mate. You might not realize that you are even doing these things, let alone how they might feel to your partner. If you get in the habit of doing these things when you have children, it's important to remember the difference in your relationship with them and your mate. Some behaviors are more obvious or egregious than others, but they all show a lack of respect for your partner as an adult and for your equality in the relationship. Waking your partner up in the morning.When traveling, you pack your partner's suitcase.You are overprotective.You are the official reminder person in your family—whether it is to take medications, finish a chore, or be on time somewhere.You believe one of your roles is to correct your partner's behavior.You buy your partner's clothes.You fill out medical or legal forms for your mate.You keep track of your partner's belongings like eyeglasses, car keys, or wallet.You make appointments with doctors for your mate.You often cater to your partner's every need.You pick out what clothes you think your partner should wear.You pick up after your partner.You style your mate's hair.You think nothing of putting food on your partner's plate, cutting up their meat, or pestering them to eat all the vegetables on their plate.Your conversation style with your mate uses "baby talk" or a parental tone of voice. How to Manage an Older Woman-Younger Man Relationship How to Stop Parenting Your Partner Showing concern and caring for your partner is normal and expected in a healthy relationship. The point where you cross the line into a parenting role is where the nurturing ends and parenting begins. Once you have identified the parenting behaviors you are displaying, there are some steps you can take to correct them. Accept that your mate does not like being treated like a kid.Be mindful of your actions and stop treating your mate as a child.Create a calendar for your family but be clear that keeping it current is everyone's responsibility.Don't correct or criticize how your partner takes out the trash or completes other tasks around the house.Have a talk with your partner about any issues that arise (for example, if they tend to leave messes for you to clean up).Let your partner make mistakes and face the consequences of being forgetful or making the wrong decision.Refrain from using a "parental" tone with your partner. A Word From Verywell If you become aware of your parenting behavior but still can't stop, there might be dysfunction in your relationship that could benefit from professional help. Going to counseling as a couple can help you both recognize the problem and address the negative impact it is having on your relationship. I Don't Want to Grow Up: What Should I Do About That? By Sheri Stritof Sheri Stritof has written about marriage and relationships for 20+ years. She's the co-author of The Everything Great Marriage Book. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? Other Helpful Report an Error Submit Speak to a Therapist for Relationships Advertiser Disclosure × The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Verywell Mind receives compensation.