when parents disagree about parenting

February 28, 2011

Before actually having a child I thought I knew what kind of parent I was going to be. Relaxed, chill, maybe non-traditional. (ok, maybe a lot non-traditional) More importantly, my husband and I thought we knew what kind of parents we would be as a team. We both had expectations of how things would work. In a turn of events that surprised absolutely no one except me that was not how things were destined to pan out.

I changed. I learned. I read. I got involved in this natural parenting nonsense and I liked most of what I saw. It wasn't completely out of left field, as I had super liberal tendencies before, but whoa boy did the boom swing hard. That cat fell of out the airplane. It's impossible to say with any accuracy what kind of parent you'll be before you're actually there doing it– and therein came my downfall. I'm not what I, what we, thought I would be.

Amber teething jewelry. Cloth diapers. The dangers of preservatives and high-fructose corn syrup. Gentle discipline. Cosleeping. Tandem nursing. Food dyes. Natural fibers. The dangers of soy! I don't use shampoo! Baby-led weaning! I'M LEARNING TO KNIT. WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO MY LIFE.

I take most of these things in stride, even though some of them I can get quite passionate about, but my husband doesn't take some of them at all. Amber teething jewelry? He thinks homeopathic remedies are a myth. Gentle discipline? Mehhhh.... we're only so-so. He's on board with the {important} talking-not-beating plan, but he's not so into the weird hippy-feelings-dialog that goes with it.

On the other hand I can't sell him short. There are a huge number of things he has been fully psyched about. Cosleeping, cloth diapers (he even puts them in the wash! sometimes!), full-term breastfeeding, natural birth support, etc. etc. So the issue is not that he isn't open to new or different ideas, the trouble comes up when we fundamentally disagree on an issue and neither one of us wants to compromise.

And yes, there are times when we just can't freaking come to a compromise. Eventually we're bound to encounter issues where neither one of us is willing to budge and we think the other is 95% wrong as wrong. WRONG AS WRONG AS SHUT UP WRONG. AS YOUR FACE IS WRONG. Either one of us gives in or we agreed to disagree and toss the issue out for another day when one of us is feeling less stubborn. Lately this has meant avoid avoid avoid the issue, and it doesn't get us anyplace but down.

It's tough to disagree about something as important as raising you kid. I think in most ways mothers, including myself, feel entitled to make the majority of the parenting decisions. Mothers are still assumed to be the primary force in child-rearing. However the reality is that in my household I do not do the majority portion of the parenting. We split things pretty damned evenly. Jon's in the trenches fixing dinners, changing diapers, playing games, and doing bedtimes. So why should one of us get to make all the choices? ...And BOOM, like that, I got schooled.

In all likelihood some of our disagreements come from the fact that I unconsciously expect him to defer to my "mom authority" on subjects regarding parenting. The wake up call is that we care equally, love equally, work equally– and we need to decide equally. I don't get to be the decision maker. His dad-instincts are just as important as my mom-ones.

Some days I think both of us are still experiencing a culture shock from the unexpected mom I've turned into. We had a fight about it this weekend and emotions came to a head– I cried and cried. Don't get me wrong, I like this new weird mom I've become, but... I'm still getting to know her. And I feel bad for Jon, who thought he was going in on Team Chillax and ended up on Team HippyCrap.

It's frustrating to feel that your co-parent isn't on board with your choices. Frustrating, sad, alienating even– but on the flip side I think it's helping us forge a style of parenting that is uniquely us. When I put aside my defensiveness about my ideas long enough I start to feel inspired. When we are able to compromise we're coming together to parent in our own distinctive way, a smart way, and in a way that can feel good for both of us.

Bottom line– we disagree about parenting sometimes. It sucks. We both get a say and we have to make it work, somehow. Dads are not second-class parents. I turned out to be a real weirdo. I like cookies. The end.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...