My partner and I were raised differently, so we disagree on parenting a lot. How do we get on the same page?
Every couple is going to clash on a few of the millions of decisions they need to make together. “There’s no one right way to do almost anything as a parent,” says Shoshana Bennett, a clinical psychologist. “It’s really important to respect each other’s ideas. That doesn’t mean you have to agree, but you should avoid being critical.”
Ask, “Is this a big deal?”
If you disagree on something little, like how to dress baby or whether to bathe him in the sink or the tub, it’s not worth a fight. “If it’s a huge safety or health issue, then it’s important to discuss it,” Bennett says, “but arguments between parents typically aren’t about whether to put a seatbelt on your kids. They’re more about parenting style.”
Stay calm and listen
Don’t flip out as soon as you hear your partner’s take. React as calmly as you can. If it’s 2 a.m. and baby’s screaming, table the discussion for daylight hours when you feel sane enough to have a civil conversation. Then, ask why. You might find your partner has a good reason for his stance.
Give your partner equal footing
Accept that your partner has a different style than you do, like he lets baby play independently (while supervised) and you like to play along with baby. Bennett says it’s actually good for babies to be exposed to different people who speak in different intonations, point out different things to baby and involve baby in different activities -- all this helps baby developmentally.
Most of us swear we’re going to raise our kids differently when we become parents. Then we become parents... our parents. Why not focus on the fact that you’re a new family, and develop new ways to interact together and start new traditions together?
Expert: Shoshana Bennett, PhD, is a clinical psychologist specializing in family issues
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