Hayley DeRoche pulls in her husband, Patrick, for a frank discussion on what it’s like to try and mold a human being…with the input of another person.
Photo by: Angelo 1964
So there’s this thing called co-parenting and apparently it’s something you’re supposed to do with someone if you’re raising a child together. But that is complicated because sometimes two people don’t share all the same views. Bummer, right?
Here are my question: is it easier to parent solo or parent together in the moment? Not, like, whole-life-wise, just out-and-about-wise. Why is it so complicated?
It’s one thing to co-parent when the child is an infant, and another thing entirely to co-parent when there’s this whole little person whose needs extend beyond getting enough to eat and sleep. It’s another thing too, when we’re no longer in the thick of things like sleep deprivation. Our brains are suddenly no longer in survival mode. Suddenly, we1 can nitpick a little more, because there’s more time to think.
I know I’m lucky. I have a partner who is amiable and shares a good deal of my opinions. But it’s still complicated, even in the best of times.
I kept trying to figure out how I wanted to write about this topic. It’s complicated, but writing about it from my side alone felt, well, one-sided. So finally, I pulled Patrick into the living room with my laptop and mic, and decided to chat about it, to try and get my head around it.
Ultimately the differences in our parenting styles aren’t life-or-death differences. It’s not like I’m on Team Carseats and Patrick is on Team Death Wish. The fact that I tend to say, “Time to brush teeth” versus his “Are you ready to brush your teeth?” isn’t a huge deal right now; my daughter gets the idea, whether one method is a slightly more authoritative method against the other. But still, we’re talking about these things now, so that maybe as we go further down the road, we’ll have some sort of conversation to fall back on.
So far, these are my two main takeaways for how to coparent effectively:
- Support the other person when possible. They’re the boss when they’re making a decision.
- Communicate about your big-picture and little-picture views.
As with a lot of things in parenting though, I’m coming to find there are huge variables. In this case, the variable are the individual people, their individual motives. Maybe the third item in the above list is a reminder that you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink. This applies to partners, toddlers, and equine animals. All you can do is your best. And chances are, you’re doing a better job than you think.
- Read: I. ↩