Achieving Parenting Compromise: Will I be Able to Let Go?

5:55 PM

sleepy morning baby

Sometimes, a 5-month-old TJ thinks it's totally acceptable to wake up at 5:30 am on a Sunday morning. Reasoning with her tends to fail, so I put her under the covers with us. She is back asleep within 3 minutes. I am wide awake by this point (of course). So my mind starts to wander, and I find myself worrying if I'm going to be able to enforce all the rules my husband is going to want her to have.

It's a classic case of different parenting styles. I'm creative and carefree; he's structured and compartmentalized. In this case, me "letting go" is abandoning the manner in which I was raised and adapting to something with more strict rules and expectations.

With my two other kids, now older teens, I was the one who did most of the actual parenting in that marriage. I really only had one steadfast rule; "Treat others how you would like to be treated". It was only been one rule, but I thought it was the best one. 

They had "bedtimes", but they were really only a loose guideline. Sometimes we were having too much fun to go to bed on time. (I probably put too high a priority on fun times, but life doesn't seem to have enough of them.) There weren't any chore lists. I reserved the favor of asking them to do an odd job here or there when I was really swamped, and they'd usually oblige without question. Probably because they knew if I was asking for help, that I really needed it - and if they really needed help, wouldn't they want someone to help them?

"Treat others how you'd like to be treated" was a rule that I thought would be a good catch-all for most life experiences, and for the most part, it was. Even through a divorce from their dad, they behaved like miniature adults about it, and it was a messy one. They also grew up to be very kind people, and in my opinion, that's what counts the most. My son still hates to do homework, and my daughter - now in college - hates to clean, but nobody's perfect.

When my new husband suggests my older kids could have benefited from rules, I tend to take it personally. My daughter made the Dean's list her first year of college, which she's paying for entirely with scholarships. Could I really have done that badly?

But now I've got a chance to do things a little differently if I choose to. Should I try to be more like my husband - a new and hopeful parent who will likely be quick to implement daily chore lists and strict bedtimes? He was brought up in a strict home and must think it did him some good. Should I strive to achieve this mindset, even though it's so foreign to me? If I can't adapt, is having one strict parent and one chill parent too confusing for the child?

I'd hate for my husband to feel like the bad guy when it's time to enforce rules onto our newly minted daughter, but I'm honestly afraid I'm going to suck at it. He's been waiting a long time to have the chance to be a parent, and I don't want to let my tendency to be laid-back interfere with the way he'd always envisioned himself doing it. (I'd want someone to help me parent my only child the way I saw fit.) Hopefully, we can meld our two semi-extremes into something that works; maybe he'll even let TJ stay up past her bedtime once in a while - if she's having a lot of fun.

I know in the end it will all depend on what type of child she is; one whose temperament would require more rules or one that will thrive on the freedom to make her own choices.

For now, I'll just keep her tucked in here, and enjoy this baby stage before life gets overcome with thoughts of discipline - when loving her and keeping her alive is the only thing that really matters. For the record, I'm still going to teach her to "treat others the way she'd like to be treated". It's too valuable a lesson to discard. 

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