Parental True Colors

Sometimes we can hide our personalities. Even our own friends, family and spouse don't get to see our true colors. That is until we have children. Having a kid is like posting your personal values and beliefs on a sandwich board and walking around the streets of New York wearing it on your chest.

I lived with Andy for five years before having Caroline and was only slightly annoyed with some of his habits and decisions. I'm not sure it is was lack of sleep and stress, but boy, when Caroline was crying in the middle of the night or up for the day at the crack of dawn, nothing irritated me more than the fact that Andy was a night owl and slept like a rock through all of the crying, feedings and changings. We have a laundry list of topics we argue about related to Caroline including bed time and setting healthy boundaries. But I have to say that diet is the biggest battle between us.

Just this week we drove past the grocery store on the way home from work. Caroline, who frequently stops there with her Daddy, points and yells, "Grocery store. I want donut, Daddy. I want cookie." Andy sees no harm in feeding Caroline candy for breakfast and a donut for lunch. He gladly shares his own distaste for vegetables with his daughter and encourages her to eat like the 200 pound, 6 foot tall man that he is. I remind him that when she is seven and weighs 100 pounds, her plea for candy and ice cream will be less endearing. What can I do? I say "poe-tay-toe". He says "pah-ta-toe." I say milk. He says apple juice.

Since Andy and I butt heads about everything, nobody is surprised that he and I have parenting dilemmas. However, we did marry one another because we generally have the same religious and political beliefs (tree hugger, a la carte believer), ideas about the world around us and what is important.

Even my own mother and I disagree from time-to-time. I don't know how often I've said to her(and my dad), "Mom, this isn't the seventies. People put their kids in car seats now," or "Caroline can have one piece of candy, but that's all. And, don't look all hurt. Remember how much money you spent at the dentist because you let me drink soda every day?" I think so many of my disagreements with my parents are generational. I'm not mad at my mom for smoking during my labor or letting me roll around in the back seat, but I hope she understands times have changed and I'm going with the times.

With our friends we often don't always see the values and beliefs until we are all sitting around with our kids. Sure, we may like the same movies, books and restaurants but sometimes, that may be about all we have in common. Who will vaccinate? Who will breastfeed, and for how long? Who lets their kid sleep in their bed with them and who shuts the door and lets the baby cry it out? Who goes back to work and who stays at home? Who uses cloth and who chooses disposable? Who lets their kid watch TV and who cuts their cable line? Having a baby changes everything. It certainly makes us stop hiding who we really are for the sake of the well-being and happiness of our child. It is our duty, as parents, to show our child "the right way."

Mother and Father know best, right? We all think we know what is best for our child. What we sometimes forget is that what is right for one child, may not be the solution for another, particularly if that other child is not yours. We also have to find common ground with our spouse and trust one anothers' judgement. When you get married, MY way, becomes OUR way. We have to decide what is worth fighting for and when it is ok to compromise. I think I'll start working on a spinach donut and brussel sprouts cookie recipe. That sounds like a good compromise.


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