My husband’s and my personalities could not be any more disparate. While this was heavenly as a couple without children – you know, “opposites attract” and all that jazz – it’s proving challenging since the introduction of three little people into our family.
I am here to assure you it IS possible for you and your partner to establish a unique, effective, positive Partner Parenting style to benefit your family. Even if you have very different backgrounds or significantly disparate personalities, you can work together to inform your choice become partner parents.
Our Different Personalities
“You say toe-may-toe, I say toe-mah-toe” – one of our favorite tunes. 😉
Yep – I am a social butterfly who never has too many friends and loves nothing more than laughing and hanging out in large groups. My partner is a let’s-stay-at-home-and-cuddle kind of guy. I enjoy talking and sharing stories. He’s a wonderful listener. I’m an upbeat, always-on-the-go person, always seeking a new adventure. He’s a laid-back cat who enjoys observing scenes and people watching.
As adults, it’s simple to recognize our backgrounds and upbringing carry significant weight in forming our adult personalities. The difficulty often lies in reconciling our differences to become nurturing partner parents.
I know if I hope to gain any credibility with you, it’s time I set my cards on the table. So here goes…
Our Family’s Background
My parents’ Parenting Style has…
- a paternal, male-dominant nature
- a strict upbringing, with parents/adult authority figures driving the day-to-day interactions and discipline
- moderate-to-conservative political leanings
- corporeal punishment, isolation and negative reinforcement used to discipline
- an air of constructive criticism with a lack of positive praise and positive reinforcement day-to-day; praise is reserved for “special occasions” or specific recognition
Our parents simply expected us to behave. Their logic was simple: “Because I’m your Parent, and I said so.” There was no tolerance for discussion, disagreement or disrespect from children. And do not be misled with all that “paternal” talk up there; there was most certainly a strong female disciplinarian in our home. Sarcasm, vulgarity and discussing bodily functions were outlawed. I mean, even “fart” and “shut up” were Verboten in our home. Curse words? Forget-about-it. “That is so low-class, so common,” was the simple, stern reply.
DH’s parents’ Parenting style has very different characteristics, including:
- a maternal, female-dominant, nurturing nature
- a laissez faire upbringing, with children’s desires and interests driving the day-to-day interactions and discipline
- liberal political leanings
- limited corporeal punishment; instead, reasoning and discussion-based discipline
- an overabundance of praise and positive reinforcement
DH’s father worked long hours and was often absent for the majority of his upbringing after age 8. His mother did her best to nurture and guide her sons in the absence of their father. In the event of conflicts or misbehavior, DH’s mother often resorted to reasoning with the children or acquiescing to her children’s desires in lieu of guiding or disciplining them. When both parents were present and a conflict arose, sarcasm and passive aggressive behavior dominated family interactions. Swearing and vulgarity were accepted and routine in day-to-day life.
So how on earth do we reconcile such disparate upbringings and create our own Positive Parenting style?
A mantra I find myself repeating to other parents as I am teaching, tutoring or hanging out as we lovingly watch our kids’ activities together is this:
“I have not met one parent who sets out to hurt or upset her/his child. We are all doing the best we can every day with all we have to give.”
DH and I believe it’s important both as a couple and as our children’s parents to establish a wholesome, nurturing approach to raising our children. We recognize the positive aspects of each of our backgrounds on who we are as individuals. We also reflect upon and analyze the characteristics we don’t want to incorporate into our Parenting style. By doing this, we are more likely to achieve a positive Partner Parenting style.
Our family’s household now has the following characteristics:
- a hybrid paternal/maternal, nurturing nature
- a hybrid laissez faire/strict upbringing – our children’s desires and interests drive our day-to-day interactions; adults act as facilitators/guides rather than “drivers”
- very limited corporeal punishment; instead, we prefer discipline focused on redirection, reasoning and discussion or “time away” from an activity
- an emphasis on fair, consistent, “the-consequence-fits-the-crime” disciplinary style
I hope this helps you as you and your partner work together to establish your own parenting style. Be sure to watch for How to 18: partner parent despite differing world views, coming in November 2013.
Disclosure: The information and material contained in this post are presented for educational purposes and are informational in nature only. Statements and opinions expressed in this post are those of Amy Askin only and should not be considered facts. While the information and materials presented are believed to be accurate, they are not intended to replace or substitute professional medical advice or care, and should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health care problem or disease or for prescribing any medication. If you have questions or concerns regarding your baby’s or your physical or mental health, please seek assistance from a qualified health care provider.
The original version of this post first appeared on ParentSavers.com on July 16, 2013.
Song du Jour: Better When We’re Together by Jack Johnson