Monday, January 23, 2012

"Different Parenting Styles" my foot!*

Are you a helicopter when it comes to your partner's parenting style, always hovering to make sure he's doing everything "right"? A much better approach is to ditch the mom vs. dad mind-set and pick up a few parenting pointers from each other.... 

That is how the tagline of an article I found yesterday started out, and it seemed promising. I advocate for teamwork parenting, so I clicked the link and read on. 

...After all, sometimes Father really does know best.

Now, I can be overly sensitive and easily read into things, but it seems to me that this sentence contradicts its predecessor. Let's review:

...ditch the mom vs. dad mind-set... 


...Father really does know best....

Translation: "Stop competing. Shut up and listen to your husband."

And that's not chauvinist. 

I'm sure that I'm taking this way too seriously, I was just perturbed by the angle of the article. 

"...let your partner discover his own parenting style. Better yet, steal these tips from the typical papa’s playbook and find ways to make them work for you." 

Sounds great, right? And it was full of pointers like, "Turn Work To Play," "Get Your Goof On," and "Pick Your Battles."

"What you may view as drudgery — diaper changing, spoon-feeding, overseeing toothbrushing — your partner may approach as playtime. "

"With all the chores that need to get done you might not feel there’s time to monkey around, but your partner is likely to fit in some foolery."

"...once in a while take a cue from your partner’s parenting style and be flexible when battles begin to bubble up."

I was not okay with the presentation of each tip. Every single one had this formula. "This is probably how you are because you are a woman. Try doing it like a man would." Nevermind the assumptions of gender roles. The whole article portrayed mommies as stressed, controlling, non-entities who don't know how to have fun, and daddies as carefree, easy-going diplomats who show children how to be independent.

As a reader, I was upset about the assumptions made about me because...

I do turn work into play, as can be attested to anyone who hears me sing the baby-scrubbing song to the tune of "Deck the Halls," or joins in our tooth-brushing parties. 

I am not the fixer, and was the one who instituted the "Good Job!" response when Emma trips or falls, because I want her to be able to stand up by herself. 

I use my grown-up words, and in fact once took my husband aside when I heard him say, "poo poo."

I'm open to risky business, as my nervous mother will tell you when Emma climbs the stairs for fun, unsupervised.

I trust my gut. You'll have to talk to Emma about that one. Let's just say that Vick's Vapor Rub, raw diced tomatoes, and the Mr Clean Magic Eraser were all good ideas. 

I get my goof on and don't you ever tell me that I don't. If you don't think I can be goofy, you've obviously had little exposure to me around my daughter and therefore should really have nothing to say on the matter.

I pick my battles. Electrical outlets, sharp/pointy things, coloring on the wall, and hitting people: these are non-negotiable. Bed-time, play-time, what she eats for lunch: these I'm very flexible on, in fact I usually ask Emma if she wants to go to bed or read a book. And she can have all the fruits and veggies she wants or doesn't want, as long as she eats enough. (The veggies thing is becoming a battle, actually. We pick our days. If we know she's hungry, we hold out and she'll eat the veggies eventually. If she's not really hungry and she eats all her fruit but not her veggies, she doesn't have to finish them, though she will probably receive the refused veggies at the next meal or snack.) 

Incidentally, Emma doesn't have tantrums often. When she does, we go into another room until she's done, and move on with our lives. Picking battles your is easier when you don't give your child ammunition. 

I do not harp on the details, at least not the frivolous ones. So Emma wants Ariel to have green hair. So she wants to eat the cheerio she just dropped on the kitchen floor. So she doesn't want to wear socks. That's fine. My floors are (reasonably) clean. As long as she's healthy and safe and warm, who cares? I usually let her pick her own outfits in the morning, or at least give her a few options. 

Yes, I do insist that she sleep with her worn-out, formerly-white stuffed kitty. Trust me, it's better that way. 

I guess the message is that, yes I am stressed, tired and often depressed at how much my life is the same every day, but I know for a fact that I am somebody, and maybe I don't have all the answers but I can take a good whack at it and still be a pretty rad mommy who knows how important the purple crayon is and how fun brushing your teeth can be. Every day I get to see a new discovery or revelation or way to extract giggles. Don't you dare pigeon-hole me a into dull, one size fits all, nothing-suit. 

Ditch the Mom vs. Dad mindset. Dare I suggest working as a team?

*Do people still say "my foot!"? It does actually mean something. I promise.

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