My husband Jon and I disagree on many topics. I enjoy novels, he enjoys weighty non-fiction histories. I like spicy food and he prefers peanut butter and jam sandwiches. In the years we’ve spent together, we’ve learned how to negotiate our differences and in some cases we’ve even come around to share the other person’s point of view.
When our children arrived we entered a whole new phase as a couple. Suddenly there was a whole lot more at stake – two little people were depending on us. While it was easy enough to laugh off our different movie preferences, it was not so easy to laugh off our divergent parenting opinions.
For us, the early days were the most straightforward. While my husband was informed and supportive, most decisions surrounding pregnancy and birth fell to me. Breastfeeding was another easy choice for me, which my husband supported. Co-sleeping was a natural outcropping of breastfeeding and my desire for rest as well as our shared choice to not leave our babies to cry.
As our babies grew into toddlers, our different styles became more obvious. I love to babywear and my husband prefers the stroller. I become very impatient when my kids yell and my husband can’t stand a messy floor. And in the face of a toddler having a temper tantrum, we often have different impulses.
Jon and I will never be carbon copies of each other and that is fine. There is some benefit to children learning that different people respond in different ways. All the same, we do want to agree on the big picture. Over almost five years of parenting, we have come to a place where we are generally on the same page when the rubber hits the road.
How did we do it? I read a lot of parenting books. When I came across one that I loved, I asked my husband to read it. We talked about it together and were happy to find that we generally agreed on the book’s main approach. When I came across other ideas that I liked we also talked about those and along the way we formed a basic parenting philosophy together.
Even though we have a shared philosophy, differences arise. In the heat of a tricky parenting moment it can be hard to even remember your philosophy. Sometimes the other parent is first on the scene and reacts in a way that we wouldn’t. When that happens, we defer to the first responder. We know that there are certain lines neither of us will cross – like hitting. So we trust each other, even if we would have handled things differently. Then later, if we still feel strongly, we talk about it. We hope this respect that we afford each other communicates our values to our children, even when we are struggling to do so in other ways.
How about you? Have you struggled to develop a shared parenting philosophy with your partner, or has it come easily to you? And what techniques do you use when you disagree?
You can catch up with Amber’s regular adventures on her blog at Strocel.com.