We Parent Differently. God Save Our Child.

On our drive home on Saturday, Beanie was sleeping in the back seat and Chris and I were talking about all the fun things we’d done this past weekend.   We were talking about seeing my extended family at the Christmas tree farm and Chris mentioned one of my relatives in particular.

This lady.   The one with the arrow pointed at her head.   Yeah, that one.

That is Kristi and she is married to my cousin, Chad.   Kristi may be one of the friendliest people I’ve ever met.   Every time I see her – which is just not often enough – she has such kind things to say and is so easy to carry on conversations with.   And this last point is exactly what Chris picked up on when he was talking to her.

“She was really nice,” he said.   “She asked me all about the Bean.”

“Yeah,” I said.   “She asked me how we were adjusting to life with him.”

“That’s funny,” Chris said.   “That’s just what she asked me.”

“Oh, yeah?   What’d you say?”

“I said it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life,” Chris said.   “What’d you say?”

“I said it was so much easier than I expected.”

Hmm….

We kind of laughed.   And then we sat there awkwardly.   And then we started talking about it.   How strange that we both are in the exact same situation day after day and yet we each see it as a completely different experience!

Chris said he found parenting to be incredibly frustrating.   He said that sometimes its hard for him to be patient when the baby is crying and that most of the time he feels like he is doing something wrong.   Now, I don’t mean that every time Bean whines or cries or needs something, Chris gets frustrated.   But there are times when all babies go past the point of crying for need and they lose their little bitty minds for a while.   Bean is growing out of these little episodes as he learns other ways to express himself, but they still happen occasionally and its during these stretches that Chris gets overwhelmed a little.

On the other hand, I have become much more patient as a mom.   I know that when Beanie is crying or really worked up about something, that its not my fault and I can think through the situation clearly until I find a solution that makes him happy. I think the difference between us is that I don’t take the crying personally.   I know that he’s not crying (usually) because I’ve done something wrong and I know he’s not crying because he’s doing something wrong.   To me, the crying is just part of the process.

Very seldom to I stereotype things, people, or situations.   I think most stereotypes are wrong and I try to stay away from them.   But in this instance, I really think this is a difference in gender.   I think men, for the most part, tend to want to fix things.   To solve a problem.   To make things better.   I get frustrated with Chris sometimes because when I get upset about something, he doesn’t let me wallow in it!   He wants to immediately jump to what steps I can take to fix the problem.   I, on the other hand, need that time to think through the situation.   I need to roll it around in my head for a couple minutes at least and then come out with a plan.

In parenting, these traits show themselves in a heightened form in our house.   Chris gets easily frustrated when Bean is crying uncontrollably for whatever reason.   He is concerned for Bean and worried and when he can’t make Beanie feel better, Chris automatically jumps to the conclusion that something is seriously wrong.   If I listened to Chris every time, I’d be on the phone with the doctor’s office at least four times a day.   To Chris, when Bean cries, it is our responsibility as parents to stop what we’re doing and fix the problem every single time and if, for whatever reason, we can’t stop it, then it must be that something is incredibly wrong.   We’re the parents.   We’re supposed to be able to fix everything.

I usually think that whatever Bean is freaking out about will eventually pass.   So, I hold him or rock him or give him a little juice to distract him until he can calm himself down.   I try not to get worked up when Bean is worked up because…well…someone needs to think clearly.   Babies cry.   And sometimes they get themselves worked up to a point where they can’t calm down right away.   This doesn’t bother me and it doesn’t send me into a frizzy while I try to make it stop.   I just go with it.   If I know Beanie is full, changed, and not sleepy, then I just hang with him until he gets himself under control.

Sometimes this is the approach that works, but sometimes it doesn’t.   And that’s where Chris is really important.   When Bean gets all revved up, Chris starts spitting out about 1,000 different things we could do to calm Bean down.   Usually, this is when I take Beanie and we go into another room so that Chris can settle himself down first.   I don’t say anything to Chris and I don’t make a big deal about it, I just mosey on over to another room so that Chris can take a break from the crying.   I know it frustrates him and I know that he feels out of control, so I give him a little space.   There are times though when I walk out of the room with Beanie that Chris decides to follow us.   And this is when I want to kill him because he follows me around while I rock Beanie and he just rambles on and on and on about what all I could be doing.

“Have you given him Tylenol?   Is it is teeth?   Is his diaper dirty?   Does he have a fever?   Maybe we should call the doctor.   Does he have gas?   Maybe he’s tired?   Have you tried burping him?   Does he need his binky?”

During these times, its all I can to do not turn around to Chris and yell out, “OH MY GOSH!   BEAN HAS THE SWINE FLU!   BEAN HAS THE SWINE FLU!   WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO?!??!?”

But, I have been told that this is cruel.   So, I try not to do it.

Most of the time.

The truth is that Bean needs both methods in his life.   He needs someone to just hold his hand and rock him when he’s out of sorts and he needs someone who will go to bat for him every single time until he feels better.   So, while I have my method and Chris has his, we both know that neither is right or wrong.   We’re just different parents.

I think that’s a weird concept.   We’re experiencing the same thing, we’re parenting the same child, and yet we are both approaching it in two completely different ways and having two completely different perspectives.   When you think about it like that, no wonder over half of today’s marriages end in divorce.   If children are involved in the marriage, then you now have two different sets of approaches that have to learn how to work peacefully together in order to achieve the exact same outcome.   How freaking hard is that?!?!?

I think the trick is to not think about it as a right or wrong approach.   I think that’s what saves Chris and I each time.   Don’t get me wrong – we have to remind ourselves all the time not to judge the other.   It doesn’t really come naturally.   But when we make the effort to stop and think situations through before we immediately jump to the conclusion that the other is different and so the other is wrong, Beanie is the one who benefits.

So, Bean is gonna cry.   Chris is gonna get frustrated.   I’m gonna assume things will just work themselves out naturally.   And life will go on.   We might be in this together, but we have to remember that we are three distinctly different people in this together.   And I really wouldn’t want it any other way.

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16 Thoughts to “We Parent Differently. God Save Our Child.”

  1. Oh, yes! The whole “guys try to fix things” is so true. I mostly see it with my dad; when I complain about something he’s immediately there trying to throw money at the problem or anything to make it better, but I just wanted someone to hear my issue!

    Also, I need to work harder at getting my husband to read this blog. every entry. It will prepare him for later on when we have a kid. I’ll be all “no, look, I read a post about this on Marriage Confessions, I know all about this stage!” and he’ll be there freaking out. I just know it 😉

  2. Yeah, two parents is key if you can swing it. I can’t imagine what our kids would be like without Rich to balance me out and we never would have made it through those crying jags on our own!

  3. I think we are rather flip-flopped in our house: I am much more like Chris. But I think that has a lot to do with my postpartum depression and tending to think that I am not doing something well enough–I am still working on trying to get over the fact that I am indeed a good enough mom for Porter.

  4. I swear we would be swimming in ER bills if I wasn’t the voice of reason. I’m a wait and let’s see what happens type of person. But our baby needs the both of us because we both brings something he needs to the table. I don’t think it’s an accident that my husband and I are together and we ended up creating the baby we ended up with. We ALL need each other and it’s beautiful!!!

  5. Tressa

    You guys are great! I love reading things about you like this. You can put everything into perspective. And at the same time you give us all something to think about in our own parenting or marriage! Thank you! 🙂

  6. Terri A

    Great post! I hope I remember this when my husband and I have children!!!

  7. Emily

    It’s amazing how that works isn’t my husband and I are very similar too although sometimes that energy is contagious! Good thing it’s usually in balance right!Tell Chris to hang in there the fun really begins soon. Our daughter is 15 months and walking and talking and man do they get to be fun!

  8. Hahaha, that is SO FUNNY! My husband and I are the exact same way. When my five-month-old starts crying in the middle of the night I wake up to feed him or rock him. And my husband startles out of a sleep after about 15 seconds of crying and half mumbles, half yells, “Does his diaper need to be changed??” It’s hilarious. Also, he’s quick to go to to the “seriously wrong” place fairly often. I tend to think it’s overreaction, but you might be right that it’s just male. Thanks for this post, though, good to know we’re not the only ones.

  9. Katie

    It is so encouraging to see we aren’t the only ones! We have a 4 month old and we have the same dynamic. It’s easy to point fingers so we have to be very conscious of our different parenting styles. Balance is key!

    Love your blog! Keep up the hilarious/inspiring/entertaining work! : )

  10. Heather

    I know in my mind that an average newborn cries 2.5 hours per day. That’s a newborn who has already had all of their needs attended to immediately. I recite this to new parents at the hospital all the time.

    Having said that, I think I will be the parent who freaks out all the time when we have kids some day. As a PICU nurse, I’ve seen the worst of the worst, and the freak accidents are almost normal to me right now. Kids who get a little cold and it DOES develop into something huge and horribly wrong, kids who are fussy and uninterested for just one feed, and it turns out to be something horribly wrong. Those flukes are almost normal to me now.

    I’m sure eventually I would mellow out, probably around the time our kid turns 3 yrs old (when they start being able to verbalize what is wrong before it is a visible emergency).
    I guess I should start assembling a big bubble for them now, and maybe it will be ready by the time we decide to have kids years from now 😉

  11. Allison

    I really love your blog. Your marriage is such an inspiration. You and Chris really remind me of me and my boyfriend. It almost scares me. The whole high school sweetheart thing, we live in the same state, AND we both have red hair. I know…creepy, right? But anyway, I just wanted to say that I liked this post and even though I don’t have children yet, I know this is great advice. 🙂

  12. Kristen

    Hey Katie!
    I really enjoy reading your blog 🙂 I know this is going to sound wierd, but I had a dream about you and Chris and Bean last night! lol. I read some of your blog before I went to bed..I think that’s why.. haha. Anyway, you and Chris looked gorgeous and so happy 🙂 and Bean was so tall and he was quite the looker, and had curly blonde hair! and you had a daughter too! and another one on the way! all of you were so happy 🙂

    hehe random dream..but thought you might want to know…

    keep blogging 🙂 and thanks 🙂

  13. Deb

    Katie, I could totally see this scenario playing out at my house. Especially since I just found out a week ago that I’m expecting! I will soon get to see first hand the stuff I’ve been reading in your blog about the bean. Exciting!

    1. Katie

      Congratulations, Deb! How exciting!!

  14. julie

    Do you hear that squealing sound?? It’s my Mom’s tires burning out on her way up to CT to kill you for posting this awful picture!!!! Those of us on the right side look horrid! You’re gonna get it, girl!! Love ya anyway…

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