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Saturday
Jul022011

YOU GET MORE WITH "HONEY": HOW TO MAINTAIN HARMONY AFTER THE BIRTH OF A BABY

According to relationship author John Gray, "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus," but if you ask me, trying to come to some agreement on how to overcome differing parenting styles when it comes to a newborn is like talking out of Uranus. What happens when you have two parents with different views on a subject they both know nothing about?: Nothing good. So the question is what to do about it? Sure, you can ask your parents for advice, but that's like asking your Mom to explain to you how to work a flat screen television when she still has a Sony Trinitron from 1988. Your parents are so far removed from parenting "children" that you'll be better off to do the exact opposite of everything they say knowing that the world has evolved quite dramatically since the days of laying an infant on their stomach to sleep, or better yet, the days when they used cod liver oil. So knowing that your parents are about as useful to you when it comes to rearing an infant as they were to you with your math homework, where else can you turn? Hint: to each other.

Parenting is about teamwork. There's no manual for being married, but you figured it out (to this point anyway, even if you're only common-law), so just apply that same approach to parenthood. You're in it together, and as long as you remember that you love each other, and there's nothing you can't overcome as long as you do it together, you'll be fine. Forget this, and all I can say is start saving up for a child psychologist now -your kid's gonna need it. There is nothing more detrimental to the development of a child than being torn in two directions by parents that can't get their act together. You won't realize it until it's too late, but when you and your spouse can't work together, the only thing you end up dividing is your child's loyalties. "Well, Mom let's me do this..." or "Dad let's me do that..." is just a child's way of working a system that doesn't work (spoken from a child of divorce... a few times over). So it's time to get on the same page, and fast.

 

So how do you do this? 1) First, remind yourselves that everything you do is for the benefit of your child. The less you and your spouse are at each others throats, the more quality time you can spend raising a healthy, and most importantly, a happy child. 2) Choose a strategy for how to raise your child from day one: read the same books, seek the advice of the same couples, and model yourselves after parents that seemingly have their sh@# together (even if this is an illusion and one day you figure out they're just as full of sh@# as everybody else). 3) Don't listen to people whose opinions don't matter (people who give you their opinions without being asked or people whose kids are totally out of control) - don't let their neurosis become your own (i.e. change your phone number or get new friends). 4) Find a competent Pediatrician that works with your personalities, not against them - one who caters to your particular "quirks", and ask him (or her) the books your should be consulting (no more than 4 or 5 so as not to confuse yourself). If you are told to buy anything by Dr. Spock (or Seuss) find another doctor. And, most importantly, 5) work out a schedule, catering to each of your strengths, that allows you to fulfill all of your obligations to your child, and each other, without drawing the wrath of your partner (i.e. feeding, diapering, changing, waking up in the middle of the night, etc). And, be fair about it. Selfishness will only hurt your child, your relationship with your spouse, and your relationship with your bed (sleeping in it) in the long run.

Finally, even in your darkest hour, when lack of sleep, and patience, have turned you in to a walking zombie that wants blood, remember this simple phrase: "Yes Dear." Use it when your angry, by gritting your teeth and saying: "Yes Dear, I'm sorry for not cleaning the bottles to your liking," or "Yes Dear, I'll never again forget to replenish the diapers in the diaper bag... even though you do it to me... every time." Use it when you're frustrated by saying: "Yes Dear, I should have remembered it was my turn to wake up with the baby even though the schedule clearly states it's your turn." Use it when you want to prove a point, like "Yes Dear. I know you think we should be trying the baby on peanut butter at 6 months, but all the baby books say we should wait. But if Penny from pre-natal class is doing it, all the books must be wrong." Use it in all the situations where you might be inclined to yell, or scream, or freak-out, or do anything that may cause you to hurt your partner's feelings, because you get more with honey than you do with vinegar, and even though the sentiment might be the same, it's your tone that really matters.

Parenting, like all relationships, is all about keeping your sense of humor, even in your worst moments- first with your spouse, and then with your child. So keep your cool, as it's not cool to take your frustration out on the one's you love (my jury's still out on a howling dog, that wakes up the baby at 3 a.m., though).

Here's some great articles to help you figure it out:

http://www.sowhatireallymeant.com/articles/parenting/parenting-together/ 
http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/5294466/ns/today-relationships/t/gender-wars-men-women-parenting/
htm
http://shine.yahoo.com/channel/parenting/what-to-do-when-you-parent-differently-than-your-spouse-2441307
http://childparenting.about.com/od/discipline/a/styleconflict.htm

To find helpful books, etc.:

http://www.babycenter.com/
http://www.babiesonline.com/
http://www.parenting.com/

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Reader Comments (2)

The second half of your article was brilliant. However not too keen on your general put-down of parents of origin! Grandparents have a wealth of knowledge and experience and can be a wonderful source of support and information. But like everything else, parents need to listen and read lots of different suggestions, and use their instinct and intuition to decide what is best for their child. Grandparents might not be technology savvy, but they generally are wise with child rearing.

July 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEasierParenting

Sorry you took it that way. It was not intended as a put down, but rather a reiteration of a sentiment I hear time and again from new parents - the advice they get from their parents doesn't coincide with currently accepted medical practices. Grandparents have a lot of experience that cannot be ignored, and there is no one that I trust more with my child than my own mother... but the world in which I raise my child is much different than the world in which she raised me. The technological references were to make a point- a generational one, true, but a general point about technology as well. The world is changing at a breakneck speed and it's almost impossible for anyone to keep up. I have laws and new medical studies to keep up with that didn't exist in my mother's day... therefore, it makes more sense for me to take my cues from parents that are just a few years ahead of me... who have successfully crossed similar waters.

July 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAdam Dolgin

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