My Husband Doesn’t Need Me to Parent Him
By Louise Gleeson,
Image by georgeclerk/Getty Images
Jun 7, 2017
If one of our kids can’t sleep or needs a middle-of-the-night glass of water, they sweep past my side of the bed and go straight to my husband. That’s because he doesn't agree with me when it comes to how we parent our kids in the night. He does it his way, I do it mine. They prefer his way.
We are one of those couples who are in sync about almost everything. We share a plethora of inside jokes and can read one another from across a room without exchanging a word.
I had no reason to believe things would change once we became parents. But I was wrong. Although we went into parenthood knowing we shared the same big-picture ideas about raising kids, our approach is very different. And it wasn’t until our first child arrived that we realized it.
I remember the weight of exhaustion across my shoulders as I paced the halls with a crying newborn during the night. There were so many times he would reach out to take the baby, and so many times I hesitated to let him.
I knew he would break the rules, step out of the routine, let the baby sleep on his chest while watching late night TV. Instead of going back to bed, I would whisper that he was doing it wrong, that I should just do it myself, that we weren't on the same page.
Although we went into parenthood knowing we shared the same big-picture ideas about raising kids, our approach is very different.
He kept reaching for the baby anyway.
Over the years, and four kids later, we’ve learned a lot about our individual parenting styles. I am a micro-manager; he doesn’t stress about the details. I worry about the what ifs; he focuses on the here nows. I have serious discussions with the kids; he jokes around with them.
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I used to think it would weaken our family if we parent differently and can't agree, but the opposite is true. Our kids have figured out who will best meet whatever need they have, and they don’t pit us against each other. By watching us respect one another’s approach, they’ve learned to do the same.
We got through the hard days of early parenthood because he never wavered in his belief that the only goal we should share was to love them. Though he often expresses appreciation for the more routine-focused ways I parent, he doesn't change the way he parents.
And that difference hasn’t weakened our marriage; it has strengthened us. Parenthood is hard and resentments and frustrations can easily build walls in a relationship. At the beginning of our marriage, I would have predicted we were a couple that would always be on the same page when it came to raising our family. I would have been surprised if anyone told me how many times we wouldn't be.
I used to think it would weaken our family if we parent differently and can't agree, but the opposite is true.
But learning to appreciate those differences and believing in his best intentions have protected us from a shrinking love. When I don’t know how to move through a problem with one of the kids, I have someone to talk to about it. I know he’ll bring a different point of view to the problem, and he will offer me sound advice. I also know he will support me if I do things my own way.
It’s always going to take him three times longer to put the kids to bed, because he can’t stop cracking jokes or singing silly songs. I don’t resent it. I don’t stand at the door shaking my head. I busy myself with my own things, and I let them do theirs.
Our kids won’t remember who got them to bed sooner, but they will look back on those moments with fondness and gratitude. And I will too.
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