Everyone has a different parenting style
I remember the first time I watched my husband change a diaper. He placed the cloth next to our newborn son and then scooched his bottom into position by sliding him side to side, his floppy little legs waving. “Why is he doing that?” I thought to myself.
Doesn’t he know he’s supposed to grasp both legs, lift, and then place the diaper under his bottom in one smooth movement? What’s he doing rolling him around like that? For goodness sake, he could fly right off the table!
Alas, this would be the first of many times that I would, mercifully, bite my tongue.
It’s not easy being a parent, but it’s even harder to watch your spouse be one sometimes. From holding a newborn like a football to throwing babies in the air, dads have a style all their own. And I somehow knew watching him change that diaper, it was important for him to perfect his style if he was going to be a dad for the rest of his life.
Still, when it comes to parenting, there are so many things I do differently than my husband. Can we talk about the Hamburger Helper he likes to serve when I’m not home in the evening? Or his penchant for Frito-Pie? And don’t even get me started about his organizational charts and plans; there are no lazy days in my household, and if you think you’re sleeping in (Mom included), you’ve got another think coming.
He doesn’t spend a lot of time on bedtime routines when a simple “‘Night, guys” will suffice. And he has been known to bark orders when he senses a child might be trying to worm his or her way out of weekend chores.
My parenting style involves more backrubs at night; more down time on the weekends; and it certainly involves more fruit and less Frito-Pie.
Then again, if it were just me and my style, we’d never have gone snowshoeing in the moonlight or kayaked Kachemak Bay or swam the rapids down a swollen river.
We would have never backpacked or canoed or built N-scale train tracks. If we’d only done things my way, our kids would never have flown alone to visit family or biked 40 miles “just for fun;” and more than once they’d have been yanked out of a class with a bad teacher rather than letting them learn to “negotiate different personalities.” If I had my way all the time, we’d probably forget to say a dinnertime prayer every evening, and we’d most likely not have read every installment of Harry Potter aloud. Our family wouldn’t be rabid Notre Dame fans or watch ESPN ” ever.
I’m reminded that on the rare occasion my kids have begun to compare themselves in a negative light to one another, I’ll simply say, “It’s not important to me that you guys are the same. I love you for who you are.” I think the same should be said to our spouses ” our true “partners” in parenting.
Parents often lament they aren’t “on the same page.” Forget the same page. For that matter, forget about even reading the same book. Kids will turn out just fine as long as we support each other in our differences. In fact, arguing about having different parenting styles is far more damaging than actually having different styles.
Each of us brings our own methods of madness, our own limits and liabilities to the world of parenting; but don’t kids really need them all?
I know my son couldn’t care less which way his diaper was fastened. All he cares is that his dad loved him enough to change it.
Happy Father’s Day! Charla Belinski is a freelance writer and parenting instructor. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Sticks in the mud. Overly cautious. Obstacles to progress.