12/29/13

EPIC FAIL: Helicopter Parenting Your Partner (Best of 2013 #4)

(This post is SO important. Especially if reading this gets you to land the chopper and calm down... Start 2014 more relaxed by letting your parenting partner in on the fun.)

When FTD and I brought our Ollie home from the hospital we were both so excited but a little (a lot) freaked out too.  We honestly had no idea what to do with our little bundle of pooping joy. So we followed our Oliver’s cues and our own instincts, and in between stood over him 24/7 to make sure he kept breathing for about three weeks straight.


As the days turned into weeks, I realized I was constantly fighting with FTD over what I thought was the best way to change, feed and hold Ollie.  FTD could barely get within a foot of Ollie without me tensing up afraid he would not follow MY ways and rules. Eventually I realized, I was the worst kind of helicopter parent to both my son and husband.  
My constant hovering over FTD was holding him back from being the dad he had always dreamt of being.  I was also feeling very tired from constantly trying to be in control or jumping the second my our son needed something.  Between FTD constantly feeling pushed out of the way, and me feeling over-tired from all of the work and control, it became apparent that I was doing a huge disservice to my husband, my son and myself being such a control freak. It was time to step back and let the father of my son, be a dad.

Don’t get me wrong, FTD always had a hand in caring for Ollie from the day we brought him home from the hospital. He just never had the pleasure of caring for him without me standing over his shoulder directing him on how to do it.  Once I let go and let him do his thing, everyone was happier.  FTD was even proving his methods were just as good, and at times, ever better than mine! Our son was loving the undivided attention, and I was loving the break of not being constantly "on" as a parent.

Talking with other mothers about this issue has helped me to realize that getting my husband involved early on helped to create a nice balance of parenting between us. We both change diapers, provide meals and give baths. Also, because of this balance of work, we have a common respect and understanding of the time and effort that goes into raising a child. I know that I am lucky to have such a hands-on parenting husband, but who knows if that would have changed if I kept pushing him out of the way...

We all know there is no exact manual to parenting.  In fact, there are a bazillion and one parenting books on the market today, each one contradicting the next on what the best tips and practices are for being a great parent, so I think it is safe to say, since even the professionals, doctors and specialist cannot get agree on any one best way to parent, there is not one.  So if you are helicopter parenting your partner, step back and have a little faith in your partner’s ability to be a good parent without your direction.  Who knows, he might even teach you a thing or two about parenting.  Plus, who could not use a few extra minutes a day to put their feet up?


 Below are five tips that helped us become the parenting partnership that we are today.
1. Stop being such a control freak. Mom does not stand for "Move Outta MY" Way! If you harbor animosity about the fact that you are doing all the work, you have to decide whose fault that is. If you jump the second your child needs something, then what kind of message are you sending your parenting partner? You have to let go and let your partner be a parent too. 

2. Add up your weekly parenting tasks, then divide by two. Make a list of your weekly parenting tasks including meals, laundry (your partner can switch a load or two), cleaning up at the end of the night... then share them with your partner. It may be hard at first to give up control, so start with off with small steps by sharing two or three things on your daily parenting list that your partner can help with. Ultimately working towards as much of a 50/50 split as possible. Start by sharing the nighttime routine activities. For example: One does dinner, the other does bath. Also, when your kids ask for help, redirect them to your parenting partner 50% of the time. This also helps to build trust in both parents ability to help, and gives the other parent a sense of importance through contribution.
3. Do not helicopter parent your partner. Trust that your partner can be a great parent. No one likes to be micromanaged. Seriously. Your partner is capable of a diaper change without you directing every move. You may feel that your way is better, but you may just be surprised to find out that daddy (or mommy) does know best.

4. Schedule "me time." You know, there is life outside of parenthood. Create a set in stone "me time" date every week. It is best to start off by filling your calendar for a month with a "me time" activity each week. Something you cannot back out of. Just saying you will go shopping on Saturday is not going to work -- one chore will lead to another and before you know it, it will be Sunday. Sign up for a yoga class, set up lunch with a friend or sibling, just get it in your mind every Saturday from 2-4 you are leaving the house without your child(ren). This also will give your partner some one-on-one time to be a parent without your watchful hawk eye.
BONUS Tip: (and one of my favorites) On the weekends, trade off on sleeping in. On Saturday one parent sleeps in, on Sunday the other... Even if sleeping in means coffee in bed with the paper while the kids jump all over you.
5. Communicate. You have to keep the line of communication open on both sides. You cannot talk at each other about what is best for your child(ren). You need to work together to create the best practices. Communication is also the key to understanding and, most of all, appreciating each other's parenting ideas and methods. You may be surprised to find something you hate doing, your partner doesn't mind doing. You may hate giving baths while your partner doesn't mind them. All of the sudden, you are never giving a bath again!
Parenting is a long road with ups and downs, in order to make the drive as smooth as possible you and your parenting partner have to pave it with kindness, consideration and communication.


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In addition to being the founder of First Time Mom and Dad, April is an award-winning published writer. Her work has been published in over ten countries and four languages. From books to newspapers, to print/online magazines and everything in between, you can find her work. For more on April, Visit AprilMcCormick.com

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