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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Like Wife Like Husband

My husband and I have similar parenting ideals, we are very similar people. Except that I have a temper and he doesn't. Well that’s a lie, he can have a temper but while I can get tetchy at the drop of a hat, he tends to reserve his ire for outstanding circumstances. 

When it comes to parenting as a couple it can be tricky. Not only do you have to consider the small people that you are parenting you have to consider each other. Like when you husband has told your son that we don’t jump on the bed and later you unwittingly permit bed jumping. It’s times like these I wish we had telepathy, or were able to communicate via a household system of morse code. I have started to sound like a 1950’s sitcom and come out with such gems as ‘what did your father say?’ or ‘ask your father first’ except I say dad, but language aside, every time I ask those questions I can almost feel the rustle of my crinoline underneath my gingham frock and the click of my 5 inch pumps on the linoleum. It’s only one step away from ‘just you wait until your father gets home’

One challenge that I encounter is that as the primary parent I am immersed in the parenting world. I talk to other parents about parenting, I meet other mums (and sometimes dads), I am part of parenting groups, I go to playgroups and I read a lot. The last one is a personal habit, some would consider it a bad habit like picking your teeth or sucking eggs but I must admit I do love being a bibliophile. The problem with being a bibliophile when it comes to parenting, is the parenting books. There are a lot of books and most of them have been written by people who think they are better at parenting than you are, many of them have been written by people with no qualification other than the fact that they have been a parent and they know how to whisper to babies, oh – and they want your money. Some of them haven’t even been parents. There are a lot of great books out there too but I guess the issue is that if you read a lot of parenting books then it can be hard to pick out the good from the bad, especially as a new parent. They all sound so convincing. But I digress.

Over the last years of the parenting rollercoaster my parenting ideals have changed a bit and my approach has matured. A lot of this is in response to my boys’ needs, I always try and be responsive to my little men and take their lead when it comes to parenting them. This change has also come as a result of being surrounded by knowledgeable and wise parents, articles and books. There is no one way to be a good parent but in the process of all this immersion I have been able to pick and choose parenting approaches that work well for us, it’s a bit of trial and error but it’s nice to be able to make decisions based on research as well as experience. It’s nice to be able to change my views based on the information I am exposed to. It’s a process of natural growth.

The problem is I assume that my husband is doing the same, I assume that as I learn something new or have an epiphany he does the same thing. I make the presumption that as I decide a new approach will work for us he comprehends this and has agreed. Not only to I assume he has been relayed the information I assume that he will come to the same conclusion as me and somehow agree with the decisions I have made and the reasoning behind it. This phenomenon I speak of is parenting osmosis, the idea that somehow as the information enters my brain it transfers to his by a seamless process based on the contents in either brain. It is a fairytale.

Most of the time I get away with it, it stands to reason as I am the person at home for most of the day doing 70% of the parenting, but a lot of the time I get caught out. Then I have to start from the beginning, sometimes I explain where a certain approach comes from and he’ll agree with me, or embarrassingly I can’t sufficiently explain where something came from because it was absorbed over time bit by bit and then he gives me the look. The head tilted ‘my wife is on the crazy juice again but I still love her’ look. Other times he disagrees with me and I feel frustrated and thwarted. To try and counter this I have added him to some of my parenting groups and have hopefully left books I read on his bedside table for him to leaf through. He never does though, he’s too busy parenting! It’s difficult because as parents it’s better for our children to hear a singular voice when it comes to household expectations. When parents argue or disagree a lot and undermine each other it can be unsettling and it means that ultimately we send a confusing message, especially if one message is contradicting another. On the other hand I want my husband to have an equal voice in our parenting, I value his input and respect his reasoning. He is a very responsive and thoughtful father… er ..Dad. 

So what’s the solution? Maybe I should read fewer books and talk to my husband more.

Alternatively I could sit over him while he sleeps and read Dr Sears to him in hypnotic chant…

I am sure his solution would revolve around me bribing him with a single malt whisky and no, that’s not code.

Some books I like:

Night Time Parenting – Dr Sears
The Fussy Baby Book – Dr Sears
The Way of Boys – Anthony Rao
The Sleep Book – Dr Sears
Dance with me in the Heart – Pennie Brownlee
The No Cry Sleep Solution – Elizabeth Pantley
How to Ttalk so Children will Listen and Listen so Children will Talk – Elaine Mazlish and Adele Faber
Siblings without Rivalry - Elaine Mazlish and Adele Faber

That’s not to say these books are all right but in the main the insight and respect that these books offer is lovely.

Some books I don’t like:

Mothers Little Helper – Wendyl Nissen
Toddler Taming – Christopher Green
Save Our Sleep – Tizzie Hall
The Contented Little Baby – Gina Ford

That’s not to say that these books are all wrong but there are some things such as allowing children to cry until they vomit that I just can’t agree with.


  1. My wife is much like you, a bedside piled high with parenting books and her kindle filled with even more. She too suggests I read some of the books, and will give me paragraphs to read as i fall asleep. She also has entire conversations with me in her head about parenting, leaving her confused a frustrated when I give her 'the look', when put in words would be 'wha'?! Far from bring frustrated, I love her more for all her proactivness. I know she's already a great Mum, but I'm comforted by her constantly striving and aspiring to be even better. I don't know your husband but I'm sure he's the same. I don't have the inclination to do all the reading you ladies do, I just want to be with our daughter or relaxing after work. We talk when needed, or when my wife finds something interesting or important. You ladies keep doing what you're doing, especially stay on the crazy juice - it makes us laugh! Great post.