My Struggle With Co-Parenting

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I adore my husband. Over the last decade our friendship started through a mutual friend and lasted throughout high school. We stayed in touch through boot camp, being stationed overseas, deployments, eating disorders, mental break downs and more. Our relationship grew into something that neither of us ever expected and is everything I never thought to ask for.

He is everything I want in a husband and in a father, yet I still struggle mightily with co-parenting our children.

Although our values and styles are in sync and our methods of parenting are mostly in line with one another, I still tense when he soothes our crying daughter. I cringe when he doesn’t use the words I would have. I find my hands reaching out when he helps her do anything. I am not proud of these feelings; they frustrate me. I want to support him in his journey, I want him to know without a doubt that I think he is doing a great job and that I am immensely proud of how he has grown into fatherhood but I feel like my actions negate all of the words I say.

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(Ergo nap at Mommycon LA)

It’s not that I feel that he is doing it “wrong”, but I have a very definite view of how I want to raise my children. I feel very strongly about the way that I speak to them, the words that I use, and even my tone of voice. I want so badly to get it right, to make sure they are strong and secure and confident in a way that I never was that I get intense about it. Even at our birth when it was necessary to let go of our baby to get out of the birth tub it was foreign and uncomfortable for me to see her in his arms. When I hemorrhaged and she was put back onto my chest and he was looking over us; that is what felt right to me. I hold the baby and he takes care of us. (I don’t remember any ill will towards him taking care of diaper duty for the week I was bed ridden, though.)

daddydaughter

I have learned that one thing matters above all else for us though, and that is honesty and communication. Because I am open with him about my feelings (and my failings) he is able to help me. His ability to trust me and my process without holding it against me really helps. I’m able to say I am sorry when I cross a line and he tries to be understanding. With our second child coming I don’t know if it will get easier or harder to co-parent. I don’t know if needing to rely on his help more with our older daughter will help me move past my intense need to make sure everything is said and done “perfectly” (even when perfectly does not exist) but I trust we’ll find balance and help each other along the way. Besides I am not sure co-parenting is much more than that; loving and trusting the other person to help you figure it out.  My husband and I are both researchers. We want to be prepared and to have a game plan, but parenting is a learn-as-you-go event and there is no way to really be prepared. Our daughter was nothing like we expected, so now we expect nothing for this one. We just have to figure things out as we go. My biggest hope is that my daughter sees our struggle and the effort we both put forth to be kind and mindful of each others feelings, to encourage growth in each other and to admit our shortcomings that we aren’t afraid of making mistakes because our ability to forgive is endless. In everything we do there is a lesson to her and this is a great learning opportunity in the love, trust, and commitment of a family.

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Sometimes I feel alone in this though. I have a great husband, he’s a fantastic father and our daughter adores him; but sometimes I push him away or want to do it all myself and that’s not really what I see around me, though I realize it’s a private and personal struggle that we don’t usually want to put out for the judgments of others. Have any of you struggled with these kinds of feelings and if so, what helped your family? Did adding more children make them better or worse or give you new perspective?