When I first met my husband, I quite liked his no-nonsense approach to life. It was refreshing and simple and it counteracted my own tendencies to get lost in… my head. He was pretty black and white about most things; blunt, honest, and (as I soon learned) somewhat predictable. To this day, I love bugging him by “reading his mind.” Is he that easy to read? I think he is.
My guy is a doer who does what he says he’s going to do. He aims high and he gets shit done. He values being productive, proactive (one of his favourite words), and organized. He loves the kids and me, fiercely. A full-on personality who talks, walks, and even sneezes loudly. My husband asks a lot of hard hitting questions, like: “Who ate the last of the cheese?” And, once he gets his answer, he delves even deeper by inquiring: “What did you have with it?” Yes, he wants to hear if it was crackers or grapes. He likes to be ‘in-the-know.” He’s curious, like that. He also has micro-management in his DNA.
I’m a thinker and a bit of an empath. I like to keep an eye on how my loved ones are doing, on the inside. Their emotional well-being is at that the top of my to-do list, unlike cleaning out my email’s inbox. (I think I have over 9,000 unread messages in there, to my husband’s dismay). I value relationships, human connection, and going with the flow. I love getting to know people, like let’s get past the small-talk and down to the nitty gritty. Like my husband, I too am blunt and honest (but only if I know you well) and I have no qualms letting my guy know when he needs to take a few steps back to let our kids find their own way.
He is Mr. Organized and I’m Ms. Easy-Going, and most of the time it works well. But sometimes the stark differences between me and my husband—the qualities that once captured our intrigue— now teeter ever-so-offensively on our very last nerve.
No doubt about it, parenting as opposites can be annoying and challenging sometimes, but my husband and I have found a few strategies to help make it work. Maybe you and your partner can give some of them a try:
Use the “Middle Finger” Approach
When shit hits the fan, and you can’t agree on how to parent–for example, you feel they are being too harsh and they feel you’re being too soft–try some of the following middle finger techniques to regain your Zen:
Flip your partner the bird behind their back or just straight up to their face like Drake but with a creepy Chucky-like grin. Or try flipping a covert double bird from inside your pockets or crank out one of those wind up jack-in-the-box bird flips. And if that doesn’t feel right for you, just imagine yourself flipping them off but actually do a Stepford-inspired smile.
If none of the “Middle Finger” techniques work for you (I can’t imagine why they wouldn’t), try these other super practical strategies:
If you really feel like your partner’s parenting approach sucks, just say it. But don’t use the word sucks, try something more eloquent like: “It would be more effective if you talked less and got to point sooner.” (AKA, when you lecture and share stories about your own life, they zone out).
No two people are the same. You are not 100 per cent right and neither are they. Try to appreciate that you will not always approve of, or relate to, your partner’s actions. Stay respectful.
Own Your Differences
The good thing about being so different is you can always rock the good cop-bad cop strategy. Just make sure you each get turns being the good guy. Nobody wants to be the bad guy all the time. Not in real life, anyway.
Try it Their Way
Take turns trying out each other’s parenting ideas. Maybe it’s more structure they need, maybe it’s less screen time. Maybe you need to loosen your grip and maybe you need to tighten it up? Try out different ideas and see how they work. And no, don’t do the old: “See, told you it wouldn’t work.” That’s just not cool.
Smoke a doob, watch a comedy, treat your partner to a Dutch oven in bed at night. Do whatever you can to keep the laughter happening between the two of you. Parenting can be rough; staying light, and seeing the humour in everyday BS can go a long way.
Rub those shoulders, turn that spoon into a fork or a scissor or whatever you and your partner do for fun, and remember, you chose each other. And this crazy life you are living is all yours. Hang on tight. Your kids need you and you need each other.
The variety that two opposite parents can bring to their kids’ lives can be a phenomenal gift, so keep it together people. Love the one you’re with, just as they are, and let your kids reap the benefits from all the good stuff you have to offer them. Because, at the end of the day, they’re going to blame their parents for everything anyway, so you might as well be in it together. Right?