It takes a village to raise a child
Reposted from Hand in Hand parenting blog
Written by Megha Mawandia and Anca Deaconu
No doubt, it is a beautiful thing for a child to be able to spend time with different people, whether that is your spouse, your family, or people in the community. And when you have a supportive community helping you, it makes parenting easier.
But what happens when you have your own ideas about how you want to do things and your co-parents have their own methods? Those interactions can be incredibly difficult to navigate.
how can you parent from the same page?
Our parenting really stems from our own childhood experiences and values, but it’s not uncommon for siblings who have a larger set of shared experiences to translate them into very different value systems, so expecting a spouse or parenting partner to be on the same page seems almost unfair.
We might argue that we chose a partner based on shared values, but how often have you seen those values tested when your child is crying at the dinner table, or they leave to go to school for the first time? Frequently, you’ll get a flashback of how you were treated when you were a child in the same situation. Chances are, your partner or co-caregiver are having the same flashback, just with a completely different picture.
But while it’s almost impossible to rely on a shared parenting manuscript, there are tools you can use to manage conflicts, and still make sure your child learns the values you want her to learn.
At Hand in Hand we use tools to help you meet partners and co-caregivers with acceptance and manage conflicts calmly. Over the next three days we’ll introduce three different steps:
Work on your feelings
Use humor to diffuse
Invest or Deflect
how indecision turns into conflict
Often when we find ourselves in conflict with a parenting partner, the cause is a lack of confidence in our parenting decisions.
Our society as it is structured today allows us very little space to work through our feelings and decisions before we impose them on our children and often we create limits and rules because of what ‘should’ be done rather than what needs to be done, and would be best for our family in the current situation.
Our first step starts with you, and gives you space to work through the issues you are facing, so that you feel more confident in your approach and the decisions you make in your parenting.
step 1: work on your feelings
Find a listening partner and work on your feelings and triggers. This could be about a limit you have trouble setting or about the judgment you are facing because of the limit you are trying to set. A Listening Partnership is a safe place to share your thoughts, without advise. Being heard without being judged helps immensely with working through one’s feelings and building confidence in one’s parenting decisions. This is your place to work on what you feel, why you feel it and find solutions about what you want to do about it going forward.
Here’s how this worked in Megha’s house:
My children went to my mother’s house every Friday evening. My mom missed her grandchildren terribly and wanted them to stay every Friday overnight.
Initially, this seemed like a golden situation. It gave my husband and me a break from parenting for a night and my mom was h
appy. But, my daughter had a class on Saturday mornings at 8:30am, which meant she needed a good night’s sleep and had to be ready and dropped there quite early.
The first Saturday I called to check on my daughter. She hadn’t woken up and had missed her class. I was paying a lot of money for them and was extremely upset with her about not making it on time.
I spoke to my mom about it and she complained that the children don’t listen to her. They wouldn’t go to sleep or wake up on time.
The next Saturday morning I woke up ea
rly to call my mom and remind her that my daughter needed to be ready. She was not. As I lived near by I drove over, got her ready and dropped her to class. She was late but made it.
By now, this was bringing up a lot of feelings for me and so I took it to my Listening Partnership. I ranted about not being able to let go, and took out all my anger towards my mom during my partnership. I found myself crying. The whole situation brought up a lot of feelings from my childhood when my mom had made me responsible for things that felt unfair, and didn’t take responsibility herself.
After a few sessions like this I was able to make a decision: No sleepovers!
I had an upset mother who thought I was trying to keep my children away from her, and upset children who wanted to spend time with granny. I was ok with short visits of two hours and no immediate plans after so they had the space to be late, but I was not ok with my children sleeping over when the supervising adult was unable to take responsibility!
In Part Two find out how to Use Humor To Diffuse Tense Situations, the second step in Anca and Megha’s three-step plan to parenting fro
m the same page.