If you have no kids, and have no intention of ever having them, this post may not interest you. Unless you want to know our background and how we handle things.
I will admit, I’m not a good parent. My example was a bipolar/paranoid mother and an (occasionally) alcoholic father. My extended family wanted nothing to do with us because we were socially awkward. Can’t blame them, though I find them to be snobby assholes and I haven’t spoken with them in over a decade. Possibly two. But I digress. I didn’t have good role models growing up and there are a lot of situations that I’m not really sure how to handle. I’m 29 (again) and still learning.
Luckily for me, Paul had a wonderful, extremely supportive family. Granted it was a Portuguese family, with the cliches that come with it, but they were far more open minded than my family. And far more loving. So the girls spent their early years with fairly old fashioned (to some extent), but warm and fuzzy folks.
And then Catie came along.
We’ve mentioned before that Catie and I see the world through far different lenses. This can make a blended family… interesting? Challenging, for sure. For the most part, we agree on the core values. But there are moments when Catie feels like she needs to step in and address some issue that I haven’t. Please keep in mind that Paul works nights, so for the most part, it’s the two of us and the two girls.
Hi there, Catie here.
Just kidding, this post was feeling a little heavy so I thought I’d liven it up a little. I’m going to disagree with Lena here (shocking, I know) and say that I do not think she is a bad parent. I think that because of our different back rounds different behaviors will trigger the “parent now” part of our brains. I would also like to say that on the whole we have been blessed with really great kids.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a good at the co-parenting thing. I had some experience with Ri’s father but 98% of the time we agreed on things and the other 2% he would state his opinion knowing that we were going to do what I thought was right anyway. It wasn’t so much co-parenting as it was giving orders.
Caring for kids is one of the very few things I think I can do with some competency. I started babysitting at 11 (it was the late 80’s, things were different) and by the time I was 14 I had a thriving babysitting career. And I don’t mean a few hours on weekends. From the time I was 12 until I turned 20 I had kids in my care 4 days a week plus weekend evenings. If you’re doing the math, yes that does mean that I would drag my own baby off to babysit with me. I loved the families I looked after and really enjoyed being a consistent part of their lives. It was hard to finally admit that I just didn’t have time to babysit anymore. I had my own family and a full time job but pulling the plug was still hard. Most of the kids I babysat for had known me since they were tiny babies, walking away was rough. It was the right thing to do at the time but it wasn’t easy. Now that I’m technically an empty-nester, I volunteer to babysit for friends and thoroughly enjoy chasing toddlers around. I’m also working on becoming a certified postpartum doula. All this to say that it’s hard for me to NOT jump in and become “the mom” it’s a role I’ve taken on in one way or another for many years now.
Believe it or not, I work really hard to stay out of most of the day to day parenting crap that comes up. If I’m bringing something up or stepping in its because I’m either completely fed up (and I’m probably going to snap, which is NOT PRETTY) or I just see a giant gap between what I feel should be done and what is being done. What I do then depends on the situation. Sometimes it means shaking my head and walking away. Sometimes I step in and just do what I think needs to be done. Sometimes it means talking to Paul and Lena after the fact. Most of the time I just ignore things. The kids are never in danger so why step in and add to the stress?
Unlike Catie, the first baby I was exposed to was my own, Bina. Poor thing…
But we all made it! And that’s the important thing.
Anyway, back to co-parenting. Like any other sensitive issue, parenting is something that can be an incredible stressor. It’s bad enough when you have two parents that tiff over day to day things, like homework, discipline, friends, etc. Add a third (or more) and it can be chaos. What happens when the kid doesn’t do his/her homework? What if he/she doesn’t want to eat what was made for dinner? Can he/she go away for the weekend with a friend? And then there’s the old, “Mom said no, let’s ask Dad.” Only now, it’s “Mom said no, Dad said no, let’s ask Catie!” Yes, this really happens.
So, what do you do?
Like we’ve mentioned throughout, it’s important to communicate. Having said that, I need to stress that not everything is worth talking over. Think about it. Will it improve things? Is it worth contradicting your partner/spouse? If not…