You know that old saying, mother knows best? Well I believe it – and not just because I am a mother. I think moms have an intuition when it comes to their kids. An instinct. But can I be totally honest here? Sometimes I’ve taken that wise old saying just a little too far. You know, in a self-righteous, “my way or the highway” sort of way. This can create problems, especially when my husband has different opinions.
Curt and I agree on most major decisions about parenting. But when it comes to the everyday stuff, we approach parenting differently.
For example, when our girls were young, we had opposing ideas on how best to connect with them. Curt’s method involved wrestling them to the floor and tossing them into the air. The girls loved it. It scared me to death. I preferred a more “let’s grab a good book and go snuggle on the couch” bonding experience.As our girls grew older, we discovered more differences in our parenting styles. Of course I assumed my way was right. After all, mother knows best, right? Wrong. I remember one particular night when that became clear.
I sat in the bleachers, watching my daughter’s softball game. It had been a rough night for our team. Our pitcher was struggling and needed a break. Unfortunately, we had no other pitchers. From the dugout, my husband (aka Coach Curt) motioned to our daughter.
“Em, go out and pitch.”
Emily’s mouth dropped. She’d never pitched before. Sure, she and Curt had practiced at home, but she’d made it very clear. She was not ready to pitch during a game.
Curt didn’t let her finish. “Don’t argue. Go pitch.”
I was super annoyed. Why wouldn’t he listen to her? She said she wasn’t ready! How could he put her on the spot like that?
Emily grabbed her glove and dragged herself to the pitcher’s mound. As she threw a couple of warm-up pitches, I threw my husband a dirty look.
I could already imagine the conversation on the long ride home. No doubt I’d start with, “She tried to tell you she wasn’t ready …”
But the ride home didn’t go as I’d expected – and neither did Emily’s pitching debut. She stepped up to the plate, took a deep breath and proceeded to strike out the next three batters.
I was proud of my girl, but ashamed of myself. So much for motherly instincts! Curt knew she was ready. He believed in her. He also knew she’d need a little push.
It was a matter of two different parenting styles. I wanted Emily to feel comfortable and secure. Curt wanted her to face her fears and rise to the challenge. Neither style was wrong. They were just different. As it turned out, Curt’s parenting style happened to be a good choice that night.I’ve realized that having diverse parenting styles can be a good thing. We help balance each other out. The trick is to find the right balance. Here are some suggestions:
- Be open to hearing his point of view.
I’ll admit it. I like to call the shots. But guess what? It’s not about me. Sometimes I need to put my ego aside and really listen. Is his idea going to cause permanent damage to the kids? If not, I need to consider it. Many times his ideas turn out for the best.
- Talk about our differences and try to meet in the middle.
Compromise? Ugh. It sounds like a lose-lose situation where neither of us get our way. But compromise doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Sometimes considering two different perspectives results in an even better solution. Rather than focusing on how your views differ, try to find common ground.
- Present a united front.
Try not to discuss (or argue) about your differing opinions in front of the kids. If they see there is a side to take, they’ll obviously pick the side that’s in their best interest. Support one another and don’t let the kids play parent against parent. There’s nothing wrong with saying, “Dad and I need to discuss this first.”
- It’s okay to disagree – just do it with respect.
There will be times you simply can’t reach a compromise. Sometimes you have to agree to disagree. But don’t forget, your children are watching! Be respectful.
I appreciate my husband’s role as a dad. I need his perspective, and my girls need him too – just as he is. We may do things differently, but ultimately, we have the same goals. We are a team in this parenting journey. We both want what’s best for our girls. Even when we view what’s “best” just a little bit differently.