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When my husband and I began dating, I already had a son from a previous relationship. As things got more serious and he began spending time with my son, we seemed to click as a family unit right away and the transition from two to three went a lot smoother than I had thought possible for a blended family. It was only when we were bringing another little boy into the world that I realized we had completely different parenting styles, and raising these boys together would not always be a walk in the park.
Honestly when this finally occurred to me it hit me like a freight train. We had been parenting my oldest together for almost two years, how was this just now coming up?
As it turns out, he had been letting me take the lead and wasn’t speaking up when he didn’t agree because he didn’t want to rock the boat in his new role as a Bonus Dad.
Now that he had some skin in the game, he wanted his opinions to be heard, and rightfully so. I just hadn’t realized how different our feelings were!
His style is much more what I would consider traditional or old school parenting, while mine strays a little more towards the hippie side of things. Blending the two and having both of us feel that we are raising our children within our beliefs has been one of the hardest but most rewarding challenges we’ve faced in our marriage.
Here’s how we did it:
Choose your battles:
If there is something your partner has very strong feelings about, and you don’t really feel strongly either way- just let them have it! I promise there will be plenty of issues you both feel strongly about. When these one-sided passion pleas come about, just let it go!
The first time this happened the conversation ended so quickly my husband hadn’t even realized I had sided with him. It was something I just didn’t have a strong opinion about, so why make things harder than they need to be?
This seems obvious right? But it’s easier said than done. Ultimately, this is one situation where you have to find some way to get to common ground or a judge can get involved and find it for you- and usually in those situations everyone loses at least a little. It is definitely in your best interest- and more importantly the best interest of the child or children- to come to an agreement somewhere in the middle.
This doesn’t mean state your side until your partner gives up (this is just as much a reminder to myself as it is advice, I have to keep it real!). This means a little bit of give and a little bit of take from each of you. Establish what you feel are your “non-negotiable” items and go from there. You may find that you are already a bit closer to agreeing than you thought!
Listen to their why, and have one yourself:
WHY do they feel the way they do? Is it from an experience in their childhood, something they learned around the way or something they just got a feeling about 5 minutes ago? All can be valid arguments by the way. but knowing WHY your partner feels the way they do not only helps you better understand them as a person but may help you two open better lines of communication and come closer to an agreement.
Let the kids be your guide:
In every scenario, it ALL comes back to what is best for the children involved, and every child and every situation is different. What approach works great for child #1 may not work once #2 comes along, so both parents have to be ready to adapt, put their egos aside and do what is best for the child. Neither one of us is “winning” if we aren’t doing what is best for our children. Point blank, period.
I hope you find this helpful in your parenthood journey, and I would love to hear any tactics that you and your partner use to find common ground in these situations!