We, as parents, are basically different people who need to be working in partnership. When we see old western movies where teams of horses were harnessed together, their combined strength was much greater than their individual strength; each pulling separately. The trick is to keep both parents pulling in the same direction. There are times when both are pulling as hard as they can but they are headed in opposite directions.  Our partnership has turned into a tug of war. This is bad.

How to keep this balance when parents see parenting differently

It is almost universal that two people are going to see their roles as parents differently. We grew up in different families. We were almost certainly treated differently than our spouse was treated. We, therefore, respond to the influence of our own parents in different ways. Marriage brings two people with different genders, different backgrounds and different perspectives together into one place and makes them focus on one job. That job is parenting a new generation of children and making it possible for them to be balanced adults. Can you see how challenging this process can be?  Being partners in raising our children can be the source of all kinds of conflict.

Warning: Children learn how to be adults by watching us

Fathers and mothers please pay attention to this. Your children are watching you. They are watching how you handle yourself when things go wrong as well as when things go right. They are watching their father and taking very careful measurements of what he does and what he says when he gets agitated. They are going to act exactly the same way when they become husbands. Mothers, your children are making very careful notes about how you deal with life. They can hear what you say even when you think they are playing in the next room. They hear what you say and how you feel about their father. You are being monitored constantly. Those children know when you are working together as a parenting partnership. And they know when you are pulling separately. They know you better than you might even know yourselves.

Make it your goal to be a Father/Mother team that works together

Father-love (remember, this is not tied to one gender but is the conditional kind of love) can sometimes be too harsh so we are put into partnership with someone with Mother-love (again, not gender based, but unconditional love) to bring us balance. Mother-love can be too protective and smothering. We are to be in partnerships to keep each other balanced. This process becomes much more difficult in second marriages. The biological parent will often be over-protective of “my” child and keep the new parent from being a partner. In the same way, the new parent may feel like the child must suddenly accept their new parental role simply because they are now legally married to the biological parent. Second families must grow a partnership. Biological parents were working on making those adjustments even before the newborn baby came home from the hospital. Making a partnership is time-intensive.  It requires lots of time and willingness to compromise.  Each child is different so their needs are going demand different responses from the partnership of parents. However, the partnership of parents must face the issues of raising those children as a united team.

Photo credit: Jean Pierre G licensed under Creative Commons.

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Filed under: Parenting

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