Kids Benefit from Different Parents

There is an almost universal concept in parenting. I say almost since there’s usually an exception to the rule, but I haven’t yet seen it. Whether different sex or same-sex couples, the assumption seems to hold — no two parents are alike. In my experience, parents seem to be attracted to one another in the first place because they sense some sort of compliment in personality or style. This translates into our parenting and one parent tends to settle on being the disciplinarian while the other takes a more nurturing approach. This might happen because they recognize their strengths and weaknesses and actually discuss them, but most often it’s a way to manage differences and stay out of conflict. One parent acquiesces and allows the other parent’s rules to dominate, while balancing the parenting with their own sense of fairness.

In general, it works for most couples, and occasionally becomes one of the many issues leading to separation or divorce. Regardless, it exists and we accept it. That is, until we separate or divorce! Then our expectations change dramatically. We assume the other parent will continue to acquiesce and we’re shocked that they actually want to do parenting their way.  Or we expect the other parent to be more responsible than ever before and somehow together we’ll be super parents. Or, worst of all, we begin to send the message to our children that their other parent should be just like us or they aren’t a good parent. If we got rid of all of those assumptions and expectations, co-parenting would be a whole lot easier in the long run. Think back to your own childhood and how different your parents were. For many of us, it was a great benefit that we had two parents who loved us and gave us different perspectives. For some, only one parent was stable and that was good enough. Let that be your guide. Choose your co-parent battles carefully. Chances are, your kids can benefit from the differences, and if they don’t, maybe they’ll at least get one stable parent out of the deal (i. e. you).