My wife and I have noticed that we both have a tendency to “micro-manage” each other when it comes to the little guy. For example, if I have learned that he is trying to tell us something, and I do not think she is addressing it, I might tell her “hey, he wants XYZ.” And if she thinks I should do something in one way but I am doing it in another way, she will say, “hey, are you going to ABC?” What really happens when either of us do this is we get annoyed with each other. She is probably thinking: “I’m the little guy’s mother, I know what he needs, I don’t need your advice.” And I think: “I’m spending A LOT of time with the little guy, I notice different things than you do, and I don’t need you to tell me what to do or how to do it.”
What we both need to remember is that we are both doing a good job reading the little guy’s needs, and we both have our own “style” for how to accommodate those needs. So, I do not need to do it “her way”, and she does not need to do it “my way”, as long as he is getting cared for. On the one hand, we can’t read each other’s minds, but on the other hand, we shouldn’t be trying to play “puppet master” if the other is caring for the little guy. There are things that we are each good at doing, so we should also start to utilize those strengths as a team. For example if one of us is good at feeding the little guy porridge, there is no reason they should not feed him most of the time, in my way that works with him. Of course he needs to be able to eat porridge from both of us, but sometimes you need to admit what each other are good at and be proud of it, and let that be how it is.
I have had a lot of problems with feeling micro-managed over the past few weeks, because, damnit, I have taken time away from my full time job to be a stay-at-home-dad during this time, and I have taken it seriously. I don’t need to be micro-managed in general, or told how to take care of my son (who I spend all of my days with) – especially given that I am a responsible and intelligent adult. The reality is, I have probably been a bit over-sensitive when it comes to feeling like I am being micro-managed, because if I really think about it, there have not been too many instances where it has happened. So, I need to relax and take it easy, and not be too sensitive. The truth is, I know that any opinions shared are done with good intentions from my wife. And hopefully she would feel the same – if I suggest something, it is not a statement on her abilities as a mother, but instead an opinion of the little guy’s father who knows him.
I guess a lot of the success that could lie ahead in our parenting together boils down to communication and what I would like to call “safe honesty” – sharing true opinions without fear that the other person will get hurt or that you will be judged for your opinions. Parenting in a way that respects both people’s opinions on matters of importance – and focusing on what is actually important and letting the other things fall as they need to (otherwise EVERYTHING is important). In other words, it should be safe to view things from your perspective, and the things you care about should be taken seriously – but not everything should be a top priority.
The key of course is that the communication is happening, and that the relationship is fostering good, meaningful, continual communication. The problem with this is simple: it is not easy – it is easier to look the other way, or for one person to “roll over” and let the other person bulldoze their way thru the parenting decisions – usually when that happens the “bulldozer” does not know it is happening, and the other person gets further and further away and less and less invested in the decisions and in what is happening in general. It seems to me that it would be key for each parent to be on the same page, but to still have the safety and freedom to do things in their own style without any concern that the other one would be bothered by that approach.
I guess the point of it all is that having a child is not easy, and being parents who are on the same page is definitely not easy. I can imagine that maintaining a strong relationship as parents who show respect to one another can be super difficult, especially if both parents actually care, want to be involved, and have opinions. If one of the parents is not showing respect to the other person, it can be toxic – the only way to prevent that, in my opinion, is for both people to take it easy on one another, and remember that there are different ways to reach the same endpoint – and chances are very good that the other person does not need you “on their back” to do something.
Above and beyond anything else, it would be difficult to be solid parents for any little one if there is not a continual sharing of love with one another in the way that the other person needs to have it expressed – it could be a simple “thank you” or “you are good at XYZ”, or many other options, depending on their Love Language. Like they say on the airplane – “put your own oxygen mask on before you put one on your baby.” It seems that the same concept applies here – take care of one another, and the baby will have all their needs covered, and beyond.