I have heard it said that parenting involves not just thinking alike, but thinking together. Parenting in a relationship means that the needs and thoughts of both parties have to be considered and communicated and compromised upon. It is hard work, but I encourage you to do the work. If I have parents reading this who are in their 20s and early 30s, I really want to encourage you to do this work now. I am in my 40s, and unfortunately there are many divorces going on amongst beautiful couples that we know – but most of the divorces had roots from when these couples were in their late twenties or early thirties. So, I would like to share five tips for those working toward parenting (and unifying other aspects of their life as well!) together.
- Parenting is just one aspect of how a couple communicates, respects and appreciates each other. I think “parenting” comes up as this hot button – whether it is breastfeeding, c0-sleeping, educational choices, discipline – but it really is a facet of: how do we communicate as a couple; does my spouse or partner respect me by listening to me and respecting my ideas and opinions as well; do we appreciate what each one of us brings to the table in this process? What do we both really value most for our family life?
- If communication skills and compromise are difficult and you both feel as if you are just going over the same thing in a circular fashion with no compromise or resolution, get help from a third party (earlier rather than later!). Many counselors work on a sliding scale, and many places of religious worship offer counseling as well. This chapter (https://theparentingpassageway.com/2012/08/26/overcome-gridlock-the-seven-principles-for-making-marriage-work/) in Dr. Gottman’s book about overcoming gridlock could also be helpful to you as a process at home.
- Have a set time to address challenges that are coming up in family life. When is actually a good time to talk through things that are important, where you can focus together without being interrupted?
- Cultivate some patience. Not every issue in attempting to co-parent or be unified always works out in compromise; sometimes the differences are still there but they are livable differences. Sometimes opinions change as one partner models things and shares with the other partner.