There’s a rumor circulating in tabloid land that Jessica Simpson, tired of pregnancy, is gunning for a C-section, while baby-daddy Eric Johnson wants a natural birth. Celebrity rumors are a dime a dozen, of course, and not typical fodder for this particular blog, but—true or not—this one brings up an interesting question: what happens when couples differ in their expectations and hopes around childbirth, and parenting, approaches? From delivery to discipline, it’s not a given that two parents will agree on what’s best. This is emotionally-charged territory, especially, I’ve found, when it comes to debates around opting to make natural parenting choices or not.
Although it’s tempting to assume that moms get the final say in most parenting matters, I know women who chose to formula-feed, or circumcise (well, not themselves—they let the doctor do it), their children because their husbands felt strongly in favor of these choices. I also know dads who lobbied hard for their wives to breastfeed, which seems like a positive thing (assuming these dads stepped up on the housecleaning and diapering front in support of those nursing mamas), but what if their wives didn’t want to breastfeed, or wanted to discontinue doing so before their husbands felt they should? Babies belong to both parents, of course, but boobs ultimately belong to moms… It’s hard to say who should make the call, or even how the conversations should go, on these decisions. Of course conflicts over parenting choices are guaranteed to come up, no matter how closely aligned each parent’s attitudes; hopefully we all go into this family thing prepared for compromise. But when feelings are strong, and stakes are high (these conversations all essentially boil down to kids’ health and happiness, no?), coming to mutually agreed-upon conclusions can be easier said than done.
Aaron was happy to let me arrange our diapering system (he dutifully followed suit when we started off with g-Diapers, though I know he prefers the eco-friendly disposables I finally opted for), but vaccination-related decisions, and those surrounding treatment choices for Kaspar’s allergies—I’m all about the alternative medicine, some of which Aaron is views skeptically-- have spurred some heated discussions between us, for sure. Ultimately, we both respect each others’ perspectives, and we know we share the same bottom line—what’s best for Kaspar—so we’ve figured out the give and take thus far. As an insider tip, I’ve found that I’m more successful in moving forward with those choices I feel most strongly about (read: getting my way) when I let Aaron take the lead on decisions I’m not as attached to; it’s important that both parents feel they have a hand in the decision-making, even if it’s about choosing what time bedtime should happen, or when to wean a boy from his binky (I felt, ‘Who cares? Why rush it?’, but Aaron wanted it gone… So I gave him that one). Finding ways to make one’s preferences palatable is another effective tactic in getting a spouse on board; I want our family to eat organic food, for instance, so I cook a lot, sneaking in kale and garbanzo beans, but being sure to prepare Aaron’s favorite dinners on a fairly regular basis (super healthy versions, but hey). We trust each other’s instincts, and have done a good job of working out any parenting differences so far. Ultimately the big issue decisions, in our family, come down to who feels most strongly about the issue at hand; we know we both want what benefits Kaspar the most, so we talk (sometimes more nicely than other times), share information (pretty reliably nicely), do our persuading or being persuaded and, finally, choose a course of action and carry it out with as much care as we can.
Do you disagree (or, hey, let's call it like it is: argue) with your spouse/partner/baby-daddy/baby-mama about parenting decisions? Which ones? Who’s more natural-parenting minded? Who gets the final say? Who do you think should make the final call around decisions involving the kids? How do you resolve conflicting opinions on your kids within the context of your shared parenting roles? I look forward to getting a glimpse at the inner workings of all y’all’s relationships! (Thanks for sharing).