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Attempting to be a gentle parent when your spouse does something not gentle

Parenting is tough enough as it is, but throw in a spouse who occasionally does something stupid and suddenly you’re navigating uncharted waters. As a gentle parent, you want to avoid the temptation to go full-on Hulk and smash everything in sight. But how do you stay calm and collected when your partner says something stupid? In this blog, we’ll explore effective strategies for maintaining a gentle parenting approach even during disagreements with your partner.

Gentle Parenting as a process

Having grown up with traditional parenting methods, you have come to realize their limitations and the need for a different approach. Now you want to avoid the old tradition of yelling, spanking and punishments when it comes to parenting your child. Gentle parenting has been working well for you, but there are times when your partner’s actions or words are not aligned with your beliefs.

Suppose you are trying your best every day to make sure you are following the rules of gentle parenting and being a good parent, but your partner just isn’t doing the same thing. Perhaps your partner agreed with your parenting in theory, but when it comes to putting it into practice, they do not follow through. A more common occurence is when both you and your partner are trying really hard, but encounters some hardship. It could also be that your baby or toddler misbehaves and you just revert back to those things that you swore you would never do or say.

Trying to revert from old ways is hard and it becomes even harder when you do not have a partner who is putting in the same effort as you are. Whether it is attachment parenting, gentle parenting, or another, it’s important to acknowledge that transitioning from old ways of parenting is challenging. Parenting differently from what you experienced requires hard work and perseverance.

Finding that balance between traditional parenting and modern practices

Parenting is already a struggle, and striving to do it right by incorporating scientific knowledge and new practices can be overwhelming. It’s natural to occasionally revert to the parenting techniques you learned from your own parents if you haven’t consciously worked on changing them. 

The more pressure you face, the more likely you are to fall back on old habits. But this doesn’t mean that you can’t change, it just means it’s a process. Be proud of yourself for making an effort and remember that both you and your partner are growing as individuals.

 Take into account that your partner may also be going through a process where they’re trying to figure out, do they want to parent the same way as their parents or do they want to parent differently. 

It’s important to remember that both you and your partner are both on this journey together. It’s understandable that you might get fustrated when you are putting in a lot effort and then your partner just goes and does or say something you disagree with, that you have learned that you shouldn’t do or say in order to raise a healthy, happy, well adjusted, mentally well, child. 

Dealing with a Partner’s Missteps

Supposedly your partner does something and you get upset about it, but they are just not aware of why their response is not appropriate or unhelpful. This may make you feel like you have to constantly pick up the pieces or undermine your partner in order to parent the way you want to parent.

Here are some tips to keep in mind in those moments. The first one is being open and honest. To make it work, it important to have good, open and honest communication.  

The most important message to take away from this is that you are both on the same team. You both want a healthy, happy, well adjusted child and you’re both honestly doing your best, even if it doesn’t feel that way. 

Reflect on your own motivations for choosing gentle parenting and share these insights with your partner. Ask yourself; 

  • Why do you feel you want to parent this way? 
  • What did you learn that made you change your mind? 
  • What did you learn that made you realize that this is not how you want to talk to your child?
  • How you want to respond to a certain situation? 
  • Why do you want to practice gentle parenting and what are the benefits you believe it will bring to your child and family?

Is Traditional Parenting better?

Oftentimes, the older and more common practices are yelling punishment, timeouts, which would usually give instant results. However, research has shown us that it actually has negative consequences and doesn’t teach your child what you want to teach them. 

However, don’t just assume that your partner also knows this, they may not be aware of the negative effects of traditional parenting methods, so take the time to educate them. 

When you’re not on the same page

Respect and compromise are key when you and your partner have differing opinions on parenting. Understand that there is no one-size-fits-all approach, and it’s okay to have different perspectives. This is a concept that I struggled with and I had to really remind myself of that. Especially since I’m also a professional and I have dedicated my professional life to helping families, helping parents with small children. 

Of course, my immediate automatic thoughts was that they should know everything. But I took some time to give my partner space to see how he would solve a problem and actually found that some things that I didn’t even know what to do, he had really good solutions for, that actually did align with my belifs and values. 

There’s no one way of doing things.

If you feel like they’re doing things differently that is not really significant then just let them do their thing. Determine what matters to you the most. I bet that the specific words that you or your partner uses is not as important as the tone, the message, and treating your child with respect and compassion. 

Try narrowing it down to one or two things, so that you can bring your partner’s focus back to those couple of things that are most important to you and what is in your control. Unless they’re doing something that is very serious, that violates your most important values, you do not need to dwell too much on their parenting. The good news is your actions really matter even if your partner does things differently.

Every action that you do that is responsive, loving, connected, nurturing, is adding to your child’s buffer

Even if your child ends up with a teacher, that’s not as gentle as you would like, or another caregiver that’s not following your instructions. Just know that how you parent them still builds up their resilience and their buffer and your relationship is the most important thing, not your parenting skills or strategies, not whether you call yourself gentle attachment or whatever responsive, but your relationship. 

Also, the quality of your relationship with your child will buffer them from lots of things and set them up for success in the future. Try to find common ground with your partner and come up with a parenting plan that incorporates both you and your partners beliefs and values.

You don’t need to have all the answers right away, you can try things out and see whether they align and work for you both. But try your best to be open to your partner’s perspective and be willing to compromise because you’re on the same team, you’re working together, you don’t have to parent the exact same way. You can each bring your own strengths to this parenting relationship and this team. It’s okay if your partner does things differently, thats a good thing. 

It’s okay to make mistakes.

One last thing that I want you to remember is one sentence; one moment, even multiple moments will not define or ruin your child. It’s impossible to predict what may negatively impact your child, but what truly matters is how you handle and learn from those mistakes. We can only all do our best to protect our children, to treat them respectfully and kindness, but at the end of the day, we’re human and human makes mistakes. Your relationship with your child is built on numerous interactions, not a single misstep. Don’t sweat the small stuff and give your partner the freedom to develop their own parenting approach.

Navigating parenting differences with your partner can be challenging, but by maintaining open communication, respecting different perspectives, and focusing on your shared goals, you can overcome these challenges. Remember that parenting is an ongoing journey, and your willingness to learn, adapt, and support each other will create a loving and nurturing environment for your child. If you are looking for further support or have more questions, send us an Instagram DM or email, we are always here to help! As always you can check out our courses or our 1:1 support for more guidance on baby and toddler sleep.

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Attempting to be a gentle parent when your spouse does something not gentle

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