|Photo by John Mark-Smith|
Becoming parents is such an amazing blessing. From the moment we first hold our newborn child, our world is changed. Whether navigating the terrible two’s or adjusting to parenting young adults, we learned something that is crucial about parenting – we are much stronger together than we are as individuals.
MARK: With no parenting manual, we fumbled through the early years of parenting our first child. Mel and I parented individually and differently, each of us following our own parents’ examples.
MEL: When our second child arrived, our differences were really put to the test. My natural parenting style was loving and gentle, and I struggled with discipline and to say no to the kids. Mark handled day-to-day discipline easily, but was less comfortable with deep discussions with the kids, like how to handle feelings of anger or loneliness. Mark and I clashed on how to parent them. We were divided, our kids knew it, and they used it to their advantage.
MARK: When our kids were 5 and 8, Mel and I attended a Worldwide Marriage Encounter weekend experience. From our discussions that weekend, we realized we were parenting individually in ways that lacked consistency for our children. We began to take steps to parent them as a team..
MEL: We struggled at first to find our groove. I still thought my parenting style was better, and Mark was tentative about becoming more involved in “my territory.”
MARK: Eventually we realized that our kids needed both of our parenting styles and that we should support each other with these differing styles. We had lots of discussion on what’s best for our children, including how we would discipline them.
MEL: Top priority for me was to avoid holding parenting disagreements in front of the kids. They needed to know that they couldn’t play us against each other any longer. When an issue cropped up, I told the kids that Dad and I needed to discuss it before we would respond. Mark and I set family rules and made it clear what the consequences would be if they broke the rules.
MARK: I wanted our kids to see us as a parenting team in more ways than just discipline. I wanted them to relish fun time as we planned a family outing together and to enjoy the comfort and security of Mel and me sharing their nightly bedtime routine. They needed to know that they could count on both of us to be there for them when they needed us.
Through parenting as a team, we have seen a difference in our children’s behavior and character. Strategizing together is comfortable now. We learn from each other, and are open to considering each other’s input. Our children have thrived in a way they couldn’t have if we had continued to parent as individuals. Parenting as a team has made all the difference.