The day my husband and I officially moved in together to begin our lives of wedded bliss, we looked into each other’s eyes and said, “Let’s not fight.”
Then the movers came.
Within moments we were arguing about how we’d combine his oversized, dark furniture with my brighter, French country. It wasn’t pretty. I didn’t know then, but that moment would be foretelling: a metaphor for our future parenting styles.
This summer during a quick visit to a local lake, my son was devastated to learn we forgot his “swimming shirt.” It shouldn’t have been an earth shattering moment, but the tears were immediate and intense. He’d always worn a UV shirt and couldn’t imagine going into the water without it.
Was he over reacting? Yes. In the scheme of things, was it a big deal? No. But it meant a lot to him, so I felt bad.
Softy mom’s response: “I‘m sorry I forgot your shirt. You can be sad about it. But you don’t need it. Let’s have fun without it.”
Dad’s approach was entirely different. He thought I was being ridiculous and let Charlie know if he didn’t shape up, we’d be leaving. It was one of those moments where we did not, and would not, see eye to eye.
“You’re lucky that you have a two parent family,” says Pat McLarney, a perinatal instructor with parent education at Hartford Hospital, who points out different styles can be a good thing. “You tend to balance each other out, and meet your children somewhere in the middle.”
“You both have to remember, it doesn’t have to be your way or no way. In fact, it’s important for a child to see disagreement, to see you can discuss something and come to a compromise. You’re showing him disagreement, compromise and then, resolution. That’s actually a great lesson.”
In the end, compromise arrived in the form of a kite. It distracted our little guy and we ended up having a great time at the lake.
Meshing our parenting styles is a work in progress, but I believe there’s hope. After all, he did get rid of the big brown couch.
Has this happened to you? We want to hear about it. Feel free to share the challenges you face juggling work and parenthood…