How to Get Rid of the Parenting Role You’re Stuck In

Mom of two, Rachel Rabkin Peachman, realized that keeping the metaphorical fort in her family, it was she who made appointments with the dentist, did not forget to pack jazz shoes, and knew exactly where the winter pants were kept, if anyone asks, her husband becomes A “cheerful parent”, one who literally builds fortresses with children. She uncovers the differences in her essay Parenting in the Spotlight, explaining how easily mums and dads lock themselves into different (and often gender-based) parenting roles and how unfair it is to everyone.

There is fun against the serious parent. Able against the ignorant. And, of course, the classic “good cop” versus “bad cop” dynamic, which in extreme cases can have long-term negative consequences for a child’s health .

It is true that different parenting styles can benefit children . But parents sometimes become caricatures of themselves when they feel they have to compensate for what they think the other parent isn’t doing, or if the other parent draws them that way. A mother who doesn’t let her kids watch Star Wars on school night suddenly becomes an overly strict tiger mom. A dad who works late and doesn’t know that Kore likes her meatballs, separated from the spaghetti, becomes the Stupid Dad. Here are some ways to get out of these traps and more equitably share all the wonderful and terrible aspects of parenting.

Share the “mental workload” around the house

In an online discussion on the topic, one mother wrote: “To be a fun parent, you must be able to ‘live in the moment’ and ignore dishes in the sink, laundry in the basket, and stains in the basket. bathroom. You should be able to forget that everyone will need to eat in _ minutes, and not think about what is in the refrigerator. So … the parent who runs all this shit is never a fun parent because his head is always buzzing with survival nonsense. “

As Peachman notes in her article, research shows that “mothers take on most of the household and childcare — and the psychological burden of organizing it — even when they work at work the same hours as their husbands.” Lifehacker writer Nick Douglas suggests several ways men can help carry and share this “invisible management job.” (# 1: Anticipate needs.)

Role reversal as an experiment

Remember in Modern Family when Claire and Philswap discipline roles throughout the day and she gets pleasure while he watches the bathroom cleanup? Some marriage therapists recommend that co-parents try this so they can build confidence in themselves – and in each other. Dr. Samantha Rodman, a clinical psychologist in Maryland, assigns this task to my mother, who says she “punishes most” while her husband “sits and says nothing”:

Apply the new rule: Your husband does all the discipline when he is at home for one week. And you support him. This can allow you to see what behavior your daughter is really bothering him with enough to react. Perhaps you will discover how different your views are on what requires discipline. It can also let you see that there are different ways to skin a cat; perhaps your husband’s approach (whatever he is, even ignoring her) will work for your child.

While you are doing this, change your responsibilities as well. You may have ended up in certain roles simply because of the parenting responsibilities that you carry out. Try alternating who is doing what, whether it’s dressing the kids, driving them to school, swimming, cooking dinner, or reading bedtime stories.

“You see it, you can handle it.”

As clinical psychologist Eileen Kennedy-Moore told The Mother Company , these should be words to live by, not “Wait until Mom / Dad gets home.” If you see Max shoving glue into his sister’s hair, do something now, as abandoning discipline only reinforces the “good cop” versus “bad cop” dynamic.

For more serious decisions, you can always use the keyword “bye,” says Julia Siemens, author of Emotional Resilience and the Expatriate Child. She gives an example: “We have not yet decided if you have the money to go to the movies.”

The rules can always be revised and changed later, but it is important that parents act with a united front. This requires a lot of behind-the-scenes conversations and trust in the abilities of your fellow tribesmen. Children need consistency and stability, and they need to know that their parents are responsible.


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