Parenting Together

Posted on Feb 9, 2010 in Featured, Parenting | 16 comments

Welcome to the February Carnival of Natural Parenting: Love and partners!

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month we’re writing about how a co-parent has or has not supported us in our dedication to natural parenting. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

******

I think for most of us, parenting is an expression of who we are. It is a natural outpouring of everything that makes us, from our experience being raised by our parents to our own adult values and life situations. Along the way we add in books we’ve read, conversations with friends, advice from strangers (sometimes unwanted and unasked for) and then it gets distilled through our practical experience learning with each of our children. We add pieces from here, pieces from there. I don’t think there are many of us who say “What is my parenting ideology?,” then go buy the book and follow it to the letter. (Are there?)

The hope along the way is that our highly individual concept of parenting will at least co-exist if not be cohesive with that of our fellow co-parent. That’s not always the case and there are often considerable challenges in aligning parenting styles within a partnership (and even more so when co-parenting happens outside of a partnership).

When I think of a question like “What does your co-parent do to support your dedication to natural parenting?” the first thing that comes to mind is sincere gratitude that my husband and I travel this path together. It isn’t so much a matter of Aaron being supportive of my dedication to parent a certain way but rather that he shares my dedication to parent in a way that reflects our shared values.

We were married after seeing each other for only three months. For a lot of people that would be a recipe for disaster. When people hear about marriages like ours, a little red flag goes up and they sort of hold their breath waiting for the marriage to dissolve so they can say “Ugh, I saw that coming.”

We’ve been married for seven years and we have two children. One of the main things we attribute our success to (besides believing that you have to work hard at marriage) is that despite our wild differences, we share similar values and upbringing. This isn’t to say that we just went about raising our children exactly the way we were raised. We certainly do things differently than our parents did, but we’ve been able to adopt a shared vision of parenting because we started out with some shared reference points.

With this solid foundation, another important factor is that we try to make parenting an extension of the way we live. We have terms like natural parenting and attachment parenting as descriptors to explain to others what kind of philosophies we are drawn to, but we don’t follow a particular ideology in a prescriptive way. As such, our parenting style becomes a partnership that is an extension of our marriage, of our life together, of our joint choices, rather than a dogmatic battleground.

We lived in a 40 foot converted school bus when our son was born. There was no room for a crib, no bedroom door to shut out the cries of a baby crying-it-out. At first there was no plumbing either. Before I got pregnant, we spent a year carrying in our water in 4L jugs to drink, to cook with and to boil for washing up. We spent five years using a port-a-potty that had to be emptied weekly. We were intimately aware of what we consumed and of how much garbage, compost, waste and gray water we created. Co-sleeping, cloth diapering, and breastfeeding were obvious choices that were aligned with all of the other day-to-day choices we made simply by choosing to live in 300 square feet. These were not individual parenting choices that had to be hammered out between us; they were a natural extension of our lives, of who we are.

Thankfully, besides our shared values about lifestyle, we also share a view of children that respects them as people. I didn’t have to convince my husband to have a homebirth, I didn’t have to persuade him that circumcision is cruel, I didn’t have to fight to sleep with my babies. These choices were natural to us in that they reflect who we both are and how we view life itself. Our parenting choices weren’t just practical considerations based on our living situation; they were choices that are respectful of the process of childbearing and of our parental duty to love and keep our children safe. We really didn’t have the space to let our son cry-it-out even if we had wanted to, but thankfully, neither of us wanted to.

Of course, I am not trying to mislead you into thinking that we are always on the same page, always perfectly aligned in our parenting. Quite the contrary: We have our own temperaments, our strengths and weaknesses, our idiosyncrasies. I would wager that all parents have bumps and creases to smooth out in their shared parenting manifesto. We have to work at finding a balance in those little things and in allowing each other to parent in the way that we are best suited to. I have certainly done more reading and research than Aaron and in that sense, I do bring more of the theoretical ideas or supporting evidence to the table. But none of our parenting choices have been made in a vacuum. We approach them the same way we do anything in our relationship; we talk it out and end up choosing a course of action that fits our lifestyle and values.

Considering that one of the most powerful ways that kids learn is through imitation and modeling, it seems to me that to be a great parent I have to work every day at exemplifying the behaviour I hope to see in my children. It’s a big job trying to be the best I can be every day because there are small children watching everything I do, but if I live my life authentically and stay true to my core values, my parenting will follow. Parenting doesn’t have to be a set of rules that we have to agree on. As partners and co-parents, if we agree on the underlying principles by which we live our lives, our joint parenting can become an expression of that.

How about you? How do you align parental styles with your co-parent?

******

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be updated Feb. 9 with all the carnival links, and all links should be active by noon EST. Go to Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama for the most recently updated list.)

16 Comments

  1. After reading this, I just want to take you out for coffee somewhere so you can tell me more stories! Fascinating!
    .-= Dionna @ Code Name: Mama´s last blog ..February Carnival of Natural Parenting: Co-Parents =-.
    Twitter:

  2. We had some discussions, and both did some reading, when our first child was around 1 year old. That helped us get on the same page intellectually. But even more, like you, our shared parenting grows out of our shared values and vision. I don’t think I would have married my husband or had babies with him if we didn’t have a good starting point, you know?
    .-= Amber´s last blog ..Breastfeeding Father =-.
    Twitter:

  3. I like to say that my husband and I are from the same over all color group, like blue, but I’m dark blue and he’s light blue. It makes all the difference in the world. I can’t imagine being blue and him being orange. What color does that make anyway?? Blu-ange?
    .-= Jessica – This is Worthwhile´s last blog ..G-O-T-E-A-M! =-.

  4. Your post is a comprehensive testimony to harmony in a family. I read it several times in awe. Your words absolutely bring your unique circumstances to life for me and make me really appreciate just how much you are living your family. I can’t think of anything more beautiful or satisfying. You clearly both possess a great deal of clarity for what is essential.
    .-= michelle caplan´s last blog ..how we come to parenting =-.
    Twitter:

  5. I love how you put this: “It isn’t so much a matter of Aaron being supportive of my dedication to parent a certain way but rather that he shares my dedication to parent in a way that reflects our shared values.”

    My husband and I almost always agree on the big picture parenting style we want to embrace and like you, we respect children as people with feelings who deserve empathy. However, there have been incidents when we may have not been the best united front. Maybe one of us has waffled or one of us has doubted our instincts as a parent or simply been human and lost our cool. It’s often after these moments that I’m the most aware of how lucky I am to have a partner in this parenting journey who helps pick me up when I’ve stumbled. We’re dedicated to our children, and we’re dedicated to one another. That makes us a (near) perfect match.

    Blessings to you and yours.
    .-= Kate Wicker @ Momopoly´s last blog ..Daddy’s Little Girls =-.

  6. My DH and I also had a quick courtship (7 mo.) and most of that was an online relationship and here we are 11 years later!

    I love that you stress shared vision. It is so different from a dh “going along with” your ideas. Real co-parenting has to be truly shared. It sounds like you have that!
    .-= Paige´s last blog ..My Reverse Traditional Husband In The Wild! =-.
    Twitter:

  7. I really like your post and it’ll be open on my browser for awhile so I can digest it. Especially the first paragraph and the phrase: “parenting is an expression of who we are.”

    So true–for good and bad. May comment on it more or blog too. It’s something I think about a lot.
    Twitter:

    • Yes, yes, on the for good and bad.
      Sometimes I feel like Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde. I was raised rather authoritatively. My parents spanked and did CIO and dad was definitely boss.
      I am committed to using positive discipline method but guess what happens to me when I’m stressed? I fall back on what I know, and that’s the way I was raised.
      My parents didn’t do a bad job. I really appreciate so much of what they did for us. But when I fall into some of those learned habits (the things I consciously choose not to pass on to my kids) – ugh.

  8. Seriously you guys are too nice. You have me feeling like I’ve been dishonest. Yes, my husband is amazing and yes, I’m pretty happy in our relationship. But gosh, we are not perfect at this parenting gig. It’s hard. Sometimes I think we fall into good cop bad cop roles, especially as discipline is becoming more the topic of the hour instead of how to get the kids to SLEEP, please sleep.

    But, you know being on the same page about the big things you believe in – that’s the heart of it. Everything else is just bickering.

    I appreciate all of your kind words.

  9. I am envious of the fact that your husband has never had to be convinced of any natural way of doing things. That he’s just naturally on the same page as you. I’ve had to do a lot of convincing. That or my husband just let me do it “my” way, which is better than what some people have I guess. But I’m still envious of your story.
    .-= Melodie´s last blog ..High Tech Breastfeeding =-.
    Twitter:

  10. I love the thoughtful way you write, and I love your interpretation of the theme. It’s exactly so, that Sam and I are dedicated together to parenting in a certain way. I think we aligned ourselves by having me do most of the research and him do most of the contemplation. It’s a good mix.
    .-= Lauren @ Hobo Mama´s last blog ..Wordless Wednesday: Co-sleeping sleepytime =-.
    Twitter:

  11. Having come from a fairly different background than my husband when it comes to parenting styles, I can see how it would be helpful if we were more similar in that retrospect.

    My husband is convinced his parents are perfect. While I like his parents, their parenting is a far cry from what I would like to do with our children (i.e. they did CIO, his mom worked full-time after he was only a few months old, etc.). Luckily, I take a few minutes to explain to my husband what I’ve researched and my logic behind why I feel we shouldn’t do things like CIO and he changes his mind quickly.
    Twitter:

  12. GREAT POST!!! My husband and I have a similar relationship. And, also? We met online and moved in together two months later- married almost eight years now! When its right, sometimes you just know!

    <3
    .-= Joni Rae´s last blog ..February Carnival of Natural Parenting: Love and Support From My (sometimes pantsless) Man =-.

  13. For us having a shared vision is all about being on the same page with all the really core aspects of our parenting, but allowing one another a different way of doing things with the aspects that are less important.

    I also do pretty much all the research, but my husband always says how much he appreciates it and is willing to take on board new ideas.
    .-= Zoey @ Good Goog´s last blog ..Pure Joy =-.
    Twitter:

  14. 300 square feet… WOW! That must have been quite an adventure! My husband had some similar times early on in our relationship. (Ha, I’m only 22, but we’ve been together for 6 1/2 years.) It’s funny how some people just seem to naturally “fit” together, isn’t it?

    Thanks for writing, you do so beatifully!
    .-= Sarah´s last blog ..Best Food Deals In DFW Area This Week =-.

  15. Fantastic post and beautifully written, expressed. Parenting is one of the joys, and challenges, of many adult lives. Thanks for sharing your insights.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Co-Parenting Support | Mama 2 Mama Tips - [...] Parenting Together — For Alison at BluebirdMama and her husband, parenting is simply an extension of the way they ...
  2. Natural Parenting Fathers » Natural Parenting - [...] Parenting Together — For Alison at BluebirdMama and her husband, parenting is simply an extension of the way they ...
  3. » Breastfeeding Father Strocel.com - [...] Parenting Together — For Alison at BluebirdMama and her husband, parenting is simply an extension of the way they ...
  4. Just Wonderful: Love and Partners and Natural Parenting | Good Goog - [...] Parenting Together — For Alison at BluebirdMama and her husband, parenting is simply an extension of the way they ...
  5. Moments in time: a love letter « Raising My Boychick - [...] Parenting Together — For Alison at BluebirdMama and her husband, parenting is simply an extension of the way they ...
  6. Natural parenting converts « The Recovering Procrastinator - [...] Parenting Together — For Alison at BluebirdMama and her husband, parenting is simply an extension of the way they ...
  7. Interview with a Daddy « Navelgazing - [...] Parenting Together — For Alison at BluebirdMama and her husband, parenting is simply an extension of the way they ...
  8. A Thank You to my Husband « The Adventures of Lactating Girl - [...] Parenting Together — For Alison at BluebirdMama and her husband, parenting is simply an extension of the way they ...
  9. February Carnival of Natural Parenting: Love and Support From My (sometimes pantsless) Man | Tales of a Kitchen Witch Momma - [...] Parenting Together — For Alison at BluebirdMama and her husband, parenting is simply an extension of the way they ...
  10. My Reverse Traditional Husband In The Wild! - [...] Parenting Together — For Alison at BluebirdMama and her husband, parenting is simply an extension of the way they ...
  11. Refurbished Games - Gems form the internet... [...]very few websites that happen to be detailed below, from our point of view are undoubtedly well ...
  12. OneStarryNight.com: Being Supported in Natural Parenting - [...] Parenting TogetherFor Alison at BluebirdMama and her husband, parenting is simply an extension of the way they live. (@childbearing) ...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


3 × four =

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

CommentLuv badge