“He’s the relaxed, laidback, self-assured parent, while I’m the conscientious, detailed-oriented parent… Or is that just mums and dads in general?”
They say that opposites attract, and when it comes to my husband and I, this is definitely the case.
While we share some similarities – mainly our interests – our personalities, temperaments and demeanors are quite different. This is especially evident when it comes to our parenting styles.
He’s the relaxed, laidback, self-assured parent, while I’m the conscientious, detailed-oriented parent… Or is that just mums and dads in general?
Difference of opinion
How do our differences manifest themselves in practical terms when it comes to parenting?
Even before our son arrived, I was diligently reading baby blogs, drawing up lists of “must-have” baby items and researching everything I could about newborns. (Funny how I still felt somewhat overwhelmed when I brought my newborn home?!)
My husband, on the other hand, trusted his instincts (instead of turning religiously to Google) and took everything in his stride when it came to adjusting to life with a newborn. Today you could class him as the “free-range” parent.
Meanwhile, I’m a self-confessed “helicopter” mother at the best of times, though I’m working on achieving “attachment” parent status instead.
What this means though, is that I am forever critiquing my husband’s parenting style, and admonishing him when I think he’s being a little too relaxed.
Here are four major ways our different parenting styles really clash.
At the playground
True to form, I’m that mum at the playground nervously keeping watch over my toddler’s every move, never more than a few feet away. Whereas my husband is more likely to let our son roam unattended (though still under careful watch, of course).
I’m forever trying to preempt a tumble, instructing my little one to “hang onto the rail” while he climbs the stairs to the slide, and running interference if older kids in the park get a little rough.
My husband’s parenting style means he prefers to let our son navigate the playground with minimal help, the thinking being he will make his own discoveries and develop his own instincts for avoiding supposed “danger”.
I’m told letting our kids falter and fall makes them more resilient, so I’m hoping the combination of parenting styles means our son will be resourceful, but also healthily cautious when he’s older and out in the world.
The all-important sleep schedule
Call me overbearing, but this is one area I have mandated full control over! Given I’m the stay-at-home parent, who also exclusively breastfed until my son started solids, the overnight shift has largely been my domain.
We had a few tricky months of sleep problems when my son was about eight months old. Frequent overnight wakings, early mornings and cat naps that were largely exacerbated by my comfort feeding our son overnight and my reluctance to sleep train.
Even though those months are behind us, and our son sleeps a brilliant 12 hours straight per night for the most part, that previous experience taught me to be strict when it comes to his sleep routine.
We’ve now got it down to a fine art – bath, book, bed. Whereas my husband would be happy to have our son Facetime the grandparents mere moments before going down for the night if I let him… never mind the blue light!
I’m also pretty diligent around our son’s nap schedule and have a similar wind down routine (minus the bath) at 12.30pm each day.
When Dad is in charge it’s not unheard of that 12.30pm will turn into 1pm, then into 1.30pm… I’m told that “too much fun is to be had!” hence the upset routine.
A healthy diet
So, I’ll be honest… I’m a little… militant when it comes to my son’s diet. As he’s still only two-years-old, I basically have full control over what he eats. And while I still have that control, I’m using it to my full advantage!
I have a strict no sugar policy until he’s old enough to really “get” what sugar is, and I avoid giving him any processed foods, opting to feed him a diet of whole foods instead.
While my husband is largely onboard with this, his take on it is that this kind of extremism may end up backfiring.
Instead, he’d like to see my son being offered the odd sugary treat so that he learns that this is a “sometimes” food.
Objectively, I think my husband has a point here. Hopefully as our son gets older we can both teach our son about moderation and that restrictive diets are not indicative of healthy eating.
Clock that up as a win for Dad!
What about screentime?
Another area that is a common one for parents to clash over is how much screentime to allow little ones.
I’ve taken a hard line on this and have adhered to the current recommendation in Australia for zero screentime before two years of age.
While I relax this rule for video chatting, as both sets of grandparents live interstate, I’ve managed to completely restrict our son’s exposure to the TV, iPad and mobile phones for the past two years.
My husband would be more willing to let occasional screentime creep in, but much like the sugar policy, I know screentime will eventually become part of my son’s routine, and if I can delay when that occurs it’s surely in his best interests to do so.