When we found out our first child was going to be a boy, I was nervous. After all, I had grown up with one little sister—girls were all I knew. When I expressed my apprehension to my husband, he laughed and said, “That’s what I’m here for!” While the idea of my husband stepping in was a relief, I couldn’t help but worry about how my parenting style would mesh with his.
When we came home from the hospital with Michael, our oldest son, I felt strange, as though I should have someone watching over my shoulder to make sure I was doing everything right. In a way, I did, because I had my husband there to encourage me (although I didn’t always appreciate his efforts at the time), and supplement my first fumbling efforts at parenting our son.
As our family has gotten bigger and our children have grown, I have noticed a difference between my own parenting style and my husband’s. Before we were even married, we agreed that we would not be “soft” parents. We believed that children need a balance of discipline and love to grow and flourish. Unfortunately, discipline comes easier to my husband that it does for me. He often steps in to fix misbehavior that I allow or that I just can’t correct. He always encourages me to be unmovable in my rules and consequences, and because of his expectations for me and for our kids, I am becoming a better mother.
In the same way, praise often comes easier to me that it does for my husband. He is quick to notice misbehavior, but he doesn’t pick up on good behavior as easily as I do. I often remind him of the old adage, “An ounce of praise is worth a pound of punishment.” I try to complement our children on their good behavior often, and I encourage my husband to do the same. If praise comes from their dad, it means a lot to them! In helping my husband show our kids love and lift them up, I am helping him to be a better father.
So who is the better parent? I would say, neither one of us! We are still learning and we still make parenting mistakes. We’re only human, after all, and we have learned to ask forgiveness from our children when we lose our tempers. We both hope that by showing them how to apologize and forgive, they will learn to do the same with their siblings and their peers.
Our parenting styles compliment each other and provide different kinds of support to our children, support that they need to grow into compassionate, productive adults who will contribute something to our world. I believe that children naturally flourish in a home with a mother and father who love each other, love their children, and work together to help them grow into the best people they can be. Parenting is a team sport, and children win when they have both players on their team.