"Being on the same team”; "standing as a united front”; “putting each other first.” Cultural phrases like these are thrown out there as parenting goals—emphasis on goals. They’re popular slogans that, while rooted in truth, evince struggle. But, you and I know some parenting situations aren’t the best examples of such a partnership, or at least don’t feel like you’re “in it together." Thanks to toddlerhood, my husband and I moved away from the false pretense that we'd naturally agree about all things parenting, and into the awareness that’s not always the case. I’ve found a strong, positive correlation between our little’s age and the amount he and I disagree. The past year (and counting) has taught that caregiving isn’t so formulaic as it was in their infancies. We’re regularly met with scenarios that aren’t so obviously answered, inspiring conversations (and admittedly, conflict) about how we want to handle and set precedence. And knowing how weighty these parenting decisions can be—even when our littles are this young—there’s self-inflicted pressure to disciple well.
As mamas, we plan on parenting a certain way. That’s lovely, but isn’t it so far from reality? The truth is we really have no clue how we’re going to parent interdependently until our envisioned self meets our present self, and at the same time realize we didn’t take our partner’s parenting philosophy into account for our premeditated solution. So, we have potentially two versions of ourselves plus a third person, our partner, to consider—that’s a lot of factors in any given parenting dilemma!
With the purpose of helping you navigate daily parenting choices more fluidly and/or with less friction, here are suggested steps you, mama, can implement that support those parenting goals:
Consider a time out: Odds are, you can give yourself a minute to de-escalate and allow yourself to separate emotion from the scenario at hand.
Consider where you came from: Your perspective and approach to parenting is a response from your childhood upbringing. Ask yourself how past experience is influencing your current position.
Consider where your partner came from: It’s equally important to take into account your partner’s history which shaped them. Doing so furthers connection and understanding.
Consider whether you’re wondering “what’s in it for me?”: There’s an unconscious tendency to project what you want for your littles onto them rather than doing what’s in their best interest.
Consider the consequences: Your little is learning from the situation—they’re interpreting you and your partners’s engagement, meaning there are consequences to your actions.
Consider defaulting to the one who feels more strongly: Without endorsing passivity, most likely one partner cares more than the other about an issue. Stepping down can be a great way to show your partner love and respect.
And to those mamas who haven’t yet come across dilemmas presenting challenge or differing points of view, perhaps this is a call to action to take inventory of what you uniquely want to offer your little(s) as their mama—how do you want to raise your little(s), and how are you displaying that in daily parenting?
Would love to hear from you how these steps will help or have helped you, and what you’re passionate about bringing into your mamahood.