Getting on the Same Parenting Page

by Amber Strocel on January 6, 2010

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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.

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Amber Strocel (31 Posts)

Amber is a hippie mama to two, a writer, a dreamer, a student, an erstwhile engineer and a lover of chocolate. She lives in suburban Vancouver with her family and one very cranky tabby cat. Keep up with her on her blog at Strocel.com.


{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Shelly January 6, 2010 at 7:52 am

For the most part, my husband and I agree. When we don’t, its frustrating. I haven’t found a solution yet, but sometimes just discussing it helps.

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Annie @ PhD in Parenting January 6, 2010 at 8:20 pm

We agree on the big things. Our general parenting philosophy is the same. I think that allows me to trust my partner. But there are lot of little differences in how we parent and how we discipline. I think that is fine. Many of the reasons that I parent the way I do is about the type of relationship I want to have with my child. If my partner has different priorities or wants a different type of relationship with his children than I do, that is his decision. I think our kids are going to come across many different styles of people who will relate to them in different ways, so if my partner and I approach things slightly differently it will help to prepare them for the real world!

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harrietglynn January 6, 2010 at 8:57 pm

Looks like we have some work to do. We need a philosophy. We’ve been successfully winging it so far, but the baby will get older and we’ll need to be on the same page.

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Tat January 7, 2010 at 7:23 am

Me and my husband normally agree on the issues. He doesn’t read parenting books as he completely trusts me with analysing and applying information I get from them. He’s happy with my choices of co-sleeping, baby-wearing, breastfeeding, baby-led weaning, elimination communication and being just relaxed about things, mostly because they are common sense to us and we are logical people.
He’s not that type, however, that would just do whatever makes his wife happy, we do really share the phylosophy. He would never agree if I choose “crying it out” for instance.
We do slightly differ in our approaches to discipline (our daughter just turned 1 and is pushing the limits), my approach is much softer, I guess, and my husband feels he needs to be more strict as he is the father.

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Carrie January 7, 2010 at 6:59 pm

We are on the same page as far as discipline, and issues such as that with our 2-year-old, but when it comes to our newborn, we struggle to agree on some things like co-sleeping, and letting our baby cry – I am trying the philosophies of Dr. Karp with this baby, and it is working well, but my hubby wants me to just let her cry, which I hate to do. So she is sleeping in her own crib, but I’m nursing her in our bed & then putting her down with rocking & shhhhing & all those cuddle cues from Dr. Karp, so I guess that is our compromise for now. :)

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