There is no greater test of a marriage or relationship than having a child. It is one of the most difficult and the most important jobs you will ever have and will push you and your partner to the limit. This is why it is so important to ensure you and your other half are on the same team! You may find that one of you is naturally 'harder' than the other and it is very tricky to change your nature... but it is important that you are both singing from the same hymn sheet.
In your generic family where the mummy is the main care giver, she becomes the expert and fathers can often feel left out or like they are always getting it wrong. Particularly in the early days when the plan changes all the time, i.e. last week we rocked him after his milk to make him sleep... this week however that makes him vomit! This continues as they get older but it might be about how to manage them swearing, hitting, not eating dinner... you get the picture!
As a childcare professional, my husband was accepting from day dot that this was my bag and he was happy to follow my lead. That is not to say that I always get it right (who does?!) or that I don't value and ask for his opinion. In fact, Seb has been having trouble getting to sleep lately... or rather the little monkey would rather climb out of his cot 87 times before going to sleep. On one particular evening where I was tired and fed up with this trend (excuses, excuses...) after putting him back in bed quietly with a firm goodnight for the tenth time, I shouted at him to stay in his bed. I then left his room very cross with myself because I had lost control. Five minutes later I hear Mr. NQP shouting at him to stay in bed. I gave him a puzzled look as he came out of the room...
'I was copying what you were doing?' He responded.
I felt awful! Poor Seb got a mouthful from both parents because I lost my temper and Husband thought that was the 'new plan!' Doh.
- Communicate! Talk to each other. Preferably before the event. If Seb is exhibiting some new behaviour I try and explain to husband how I am dealing with it... i.e. we are ignoring this, or he knows now this is an immediate doormat offence, or try saying this to calm him down. Consistency is so important for children and will really help your marriage.
- Only pick them up on the things that really matter. With tiny babies it is easy to get obsessed with routine, or the way you got them to sleep one day, or how to get them dressed or change their nappy... if your other half does it slightly differently... but it got the job done... then leave it be! They are trying just as hard as you, they just have even less time to perfect their parenting skills. If it really makes a difference or they are making matters worse then step in, but make sure it's in a helpful, meaningful way!
- Try not to play good cop, bad cop. There is no need for it. If one parent is managing behaviour, let them manage it through to the end including the reconciliation. Nothing makes a parent feel worse than them having to be the bad guy all the time.
Happy team parenting! Thoughts and comments below!