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Parents Can Learn Together

Recently I was in a restaurant for lunch and, as I gazed around waiting for my companion, I became aware that the couple at the next table were discussing a parenting issue.

Although I didn't listen in on all the details, it was clear they did not agree about how to proceed on a particular issue.

Of course, this started me thinking about the complexity of trying to parent with another person. It's not an easy thing to do!

It seems most people do not talk much about how they are going to parent prior to having children. They talk a lot about colours for the baby's room, about how cute little Fauntleroy is going to be, the sports the child will play (effortlessly and with abundant natural ability), and all the pleasant things associated with bringing home a precious new baby.

Sometimes there is a general reference to parenting "just like my Mom did" or alternately "totally different than my Dad."

These comments are understandable because anything we know about parenting comes from how our parents or caregivers parented us as growing children.

We all have our ideas about what was done right and what needed improvement but, in the end, for the most part we tend to do what was done to us.

It is often said that anyone can become a parent and there is no licence required, no proof of training. This is pretty much true. We learn as we go and, when we have a partner, the goal is to learn together.

Most of the time we don't know that we are not on the same page until something happens. If we consider that our parenting is the template for how we will parent, it is not a surprise that when two people come together as parents they may have a different style or a different set of tools for the job.

Actually, parenting is only one part of how we can differ in our approach to life. Each person in a relationship brings all of who he or she is to date. This world view includes all life experiences, a belief system, a personality, a family system, and so on. I sometimes think of this as "two worlds colliding" because, until we can learn to compromise and stop the power struggle, it can look a bit like a collision.

Compromise is the operative word here. We have our own ideas based on our personal experiences. In order to create a new way of being, as a parent or otherwise, we need to find the middle ground.

We accomplish that by listening, talking, listening, talking and then more listening. Holding hands can really help the process.

Remember the goal. Your child's health and well-being is the goal. Parenting is a child-centred activity and this is the only viable model. You don't have to be right. Just be fair, supportive and loving and it will work out for the best.