The differences in Mom and Dad become apparent immediately with the basic care of a newborn. I cannot recall my father touching a diaper or caring for the basic infant needs of my siblings, yet my husband was much more willing with our three. I was never interested in splitting the duties of newborn care and it all seemed interwoven in the nursing routine anyway. Sleep deprivation was the only area of infancy that I desperately needed a bit of help. George and I decided to split the night, attempting for each of us to hit REM for a brief moment. George woke with the babies at 3am, I would nurse then hand them back and sleep until 7am. Once the babies started sleeping all night, George continued to wake with them every day and do breakfast.
I orchestrate sleep schedules, food schedules, school, homework and extracurricular schedules. I am the rule maker and enforcer, and George sees things much less seriously than me. It is only in the past two years that the differences between George and I are really apparent to me. Like Dr. Weissbluth, I believe if a child needs you for the simplest of tasks like sleep, their independence in the rest of life will be hindered. George sees it much more simply; them coming in the middle of the night means they need a little extra love, and they wont be small forever. Movie ratings are another area where we totally disagree. I hold fast to PG for our 8, 6 and 4 y/o. George thinks PG-13 in the right context, like Transformers, is A-ok. When I come into the room and make everyone turn the TV off, I am the bad guy and Daddy is the fun guy. I am always rushed to ensure the kids are on time to all their activities and George is okay if they are late. I am adamant about the kids eating vegetables for dinner. To the extent that veggies are served first, and they have to be finished to have the rest of the meal. Veggie wars can get ugly, and sticking to your word is important for my kids to understand it’s non-negotiable. There have been times when George gets home from work in the middle of the ordeal and says, in front of the kids, not to force them. I’ve not waivered and just two nights ago Sofia ate an entire serving of green beans like a champ and was proud of it.
We have talked about these things multiple times, and yet some are still ongoing. There are other areas where we vary and George calms all of us. Sickness, for instance, I worry about the kids at the first sign of illness, particularly fevers. George always says everything is just fine and they will be okay. God bless, he has always been right.
The optimum situation is one where both parents support each other in pursuit of the greatest good for the children. Ultimately, when the kids are adults, their behavior and decisions may cause someone to question their parents. It will not be which of us changed more diapers. Someone may ask where they learned their acts of kindness, generosity, optimism, courage, dignity and success. To that question, I will proudly answer that both George and I, with our differences, together balanced the delivery of life’s real lessons through our commitment to love them and our own actions. Whatever the situation of driver versus copilot, a child needs balance from their caregivers in discipline, love and being carefree.
The key: Communicate with your partner, apart from the children, to be on the same page in your deliberate and compassionate parenting.
Trina M. Fresco, Vice President of Operations for the IT firmsmarTECHS.net since 2007 and NBCLatino Contributor, was named one of “50 Powerful Minority Women in Business” by MEA Magazine. Fresco is the Chair of the Chicago Foundation for Women Investment Subcommittee and serves on a number of additional boards & committees. Fresco resides Chicago with her husband, George and their three children Sofia, Giana and Lorenzo. You can contact her at FrescoRealTalk@gmail.com or on Twitter @trinafresco.