Five tips to be better parents as a married couple.
When our daughter was two hours old, I looked at my husband and stated matter-of-factly, "You better have a good relationship with her for her entire life because there will come a time that you may be all we have." He just stared at me like I had horns coming out of my head and said, "She's two hours old, how could you possibly be thinking about her future?"
My reply, "Girls are tough to raise. They need strong men in their lives or they will look for one all on their own. They also get to a point where they think their mothers know absolutely nothing and may stop talking to them altogether. Having a dad in the picture is vital for her to make it."
He still thinks I am crazy, but I am pretty sure that we have found an okay balance when it comes to parenting. Admittedly, there are times when we disagree completely. He's a lecturer. I am a yeller. He comes from a family where feelings are not really talked about. I come from a family where you wear your heart on your sleeve and talk non-stop about everything. Through our 14 years of marriage and our five years as parents, we have learned a few things. Here are five parenting tips you and your spouse should know.
1. We will never agree 100 percent on everything. After a few years of trying to get him to understand me and wanting him to think like me, I finally realized that we complement each other better when we don't agree on everything. He doesn't try to change me and I don't try to change him.
Things that are important to us are worth discussing. This has proven helpful when it comes to raising kids. I want to pick the battle about getting homework completed. He wants to pick the battle about eating everything on their plates at dinner. It is okay that we do not agree on what battle is to be picked, as long as we support each other.
2. We respect each other enough to hear the other person out. Learning to parent together requires a certain amount of respect for each other. No parent is perfect and usually no parent-child interaction during a crisis is perfect. Respecting one another is crucial in making it through those stressful moments. I always say that parents are crisis responders for their children. In that same spirit, we are crisis responders to our co-parent.
While we may not understand why the other parent wants to pull out his hair because a child said, "No, I'm not going to bed," we must acknowledge that we are not walking in their shoes. Perhaps this came at the end of a very long day, where nothing went right for our spouse and he is at his wits end. Respect each other enough to see the big picture and hear each other out.
3. Our kids are more whole because we both contribute to the parenting. I have a few friends where they do all the parenting and their husbands do none. They are exhausted, tired and struggle to love their children at times. While I do not always agree with my husband's parenting style, I am thankful that he is in the picture and a willing participant. He can teach our children skills that I can't, like braving the steep hill to ride a bike or the difference between a flathead and Phillip's screwdriver. He is also showing them love in a way that I can duplicate or replace.
4. Sometimes, it is better to keep you mouth shut. At the end of the day, is it really important if my husband makes sure all the beds are made before the kids leave for school? Is is crucial for everyone to wear clothes that match? Is it vital for us to be on time everywhere we go? The answers to these questions is no.
When I find myself getting frustrated with my spouse, I ask about the bigger picture. I have a moment of thankfulness that he is active and participating in the lives of our children. In the big picture, our kids will remember the time that their dad was around, not all the little things that I wanted done perfectly.
5. We always come back to what we want to model for our children. A core belief that I have as a parent is to model what I want our children to see. My husband agrees with this as well. Children will do what they see and say what they hear. Above all else, I want them to know that they are loved by many. I also want them to know that love comes in many different ways and can be shown differently by each parent.
Is parenting easy? Nope, not a bit. Is co-parenting easy? Not really. Would I trade either for anything in the world? Of course not. At the end of the day, being a parent makes me a better person. Parenting with my husband makes me a better mother, communicator and wife. Both push me out of my comfort zone.