Even though as parents you will have different parenting styles you still have to agree on the important things, says Marlon Abrahams.
This was the headline of an article in the Huisgenoot magazine on the 21st July 2011. The findings, from a new study conducted by the university of Ohio, claim that parents who share responsibilities equally endure more stress, fight more and have a higher divorce rate than compared to parenting where the wife does everything on her own and dad takes care of playtime.
“Surely this is unfair on the wife,” the article suggests. However, there is more bad news for women, as apparently women are responsible for the conflict about parenting by being “control freaks” and not allowing their husbands to develop their own parenting style.
It made me laugh a little because I can see how this could indeed be the case in married parenting families. Most women won’t allow their husbands to do anything with any serious consequences to the baby or child. And only when the child is old enough to take care of the basics in terms of staying alive, will a protective mom allow dad to “take him to the game” alone, for example.
Most married men are also quite happy to accept the role of fun provider and gladly leave all the hard parenting work up to mom. However, in a single parenting scenario, the picture is decidedly different. If you have had unsupervised access to your kids since they were little as I have in the case of Hannah (since age 2) and Maddison (since 3 months), it is inevitable that you will have to develop your own parenting style and just as inevitable that it will differ somewhat from the mother’s parenting style.
Even in a married parenting scenario, especially if both parents are working, there are going to be times when dad will be alone with the kids for an extended period of time. The key is to agree on the important stuff like education, discipline, extra murals, how much TV or internet access they’re allowed etc. And whatever you and the missus or the ex agrees upon must be non-negotiable in terms of execution. Children, no matter how angelic they appear, will manipulate and connive, to get their way and have been known to say things like “but mom lets me do it.”
Don’t fall for it, agree to a set of guidelines on these issues and stick to it come hell or high water. Routines like bath and bed time are very important with regards to being on the same page, because it’s not so much about getting the kid clean or to bed, but it is everything about teaching them discipline and responsibility. If one parent undermines the agreement by letting your little monkey stay up late or skip bath time, the other parent has to become the heavy to get the routine back on track.
Just like our parents before us, we have to contend with unique influences on parenting. In our era its things like more work and less time, social media, cell phones, computers, the internet, more explicit media (movies, music etc), all of which can take a chunk out of your parenting routine with regards to “stealing” and influencing your kid’s attention.
Now, more than ever it is critical to develop a parenting style together with your partner that works for both of you and more importantly allows the child to flourish.
By Marlon Abrahams
Article originally in Parent24