Let's Get a Serious

Last week, we announced that this week’s Let’s Get Serious would be a reader question pick. We’ve done a LGS post based on a reader question before and had a lot of fun with it. This week’s LGS is the answer to a question from Jen, who asked,

“Have you and Jake ever had a major parenting decision that you didn’t agree on? (not to open up a can of worms or anything, lol)”

Nerd Nest Family

Jake and I have been talking about that question all week and haven’t been able to come up with ANYTHING. It’s not that we’ve never had parenting disagreements: we’ve had plenty. It’s just that none of them have been major. None of them have even turned into an argument. And we considered just not blogging about it (because that sounds fake, right?), but instead, we tried to pinpoint exactly why it is that we’ve had no major disagreements.

It could be because our kids are still young (Eliza is 6 and Jonas is 19 months), so a lot of the really tough parenting decisions are yet to come. It might be because our value systems are really in sync: our parenting goals are very centered around Humanism. But mostly we think it’s because we talk so so much. We’re almost always on the same page because we pose hypothetical parenting scenarios, debate them, and make decisions WAY before the scenarios could possibly come up. It never gets heated because there’s no time crunch pressure. For an example, we decided how we’d handle talking to the kids about puberty and sex when I was pregnant with Eliza. And we’re constantly re-adjusting our ideas based on information we gather: it’s an ongoing conversation.

I remember seeing Parenting magazine in someone’s bathroom when I was a teenager. I thought the idea of a parenting magazine was really weird. I’m pretty sure that the thought that went through my head was, If you need a magazine to tell you how to be a parent, you probably shouldn’t be one. (Teenagers, am I right?) I don’t know how I got to the thought that the answers to everything parenting-related should innately come out of some magically intuitive place, but that’s totally silly. Going with your gut usually means acting how you’re conditioned to act, which doesn’t necessarily make it the right decision. In fact, going with my first parenting impulse usually means yelling a lot. Jake’s first parenting impulse is to dole out punishment before he hears Eliza’s side of the story. But that’s not what we do (most of the time). And if either of us slips into a non-healthy parenting stance, the other can give a look or say, “That’s not how we do things.” And then we’re back to the kind of parents we want to be. (There’s a more on that in this post.)

We know what kind of parents we want to be because of all of the talking. And the reading. As silly as I thought Parenting was when I was a teenager, we’ve really enjoyed several parenting magazines. We’ve had subscriptions to Parenting, Parents, and Family Fun over our parenting years. We also read parenting blogs like Rage Against the Minivan, Sometimes Sweet, and Smile and Wave. We check out articles from sites like Babble and Hello Giggles. We’re still a few years away from trying to adopt from foster care, but we still read a lot of blogs about adoptions from adoptive parents, original parents, and adult adoptees (many of which we found through Alltop). We listen to our elders. We think about the things our parents did. We applied things we learned in college to parenting. We read scholarly journals and peer reviewed research, though not as much now that we don’t have free access to the databases. We pay attention to other people. And then we dissect all of that information together.

We don’t always agree with the information that we’re taking in. A lot of the parenting blogs I read are about as far from our parenting style as a person can get (there’s a lot of this going on). But if I read an article and I don’t already know what Jake will think about it, I’ll say, “Hey, what do you think about this?” And then we’ll talk about it. We both try to see the issue from every angle we can. We throw out seriously everything we can think of. It’s not a debate where someone’s trying to win, it’s more like a brainstorming session. By the end, it’s usually pretty clear which way we’re going to go. It’s very very rare that we come to a different conclusion and have to hash it out further. And we’re crazy, because this is what we do for FUN (we really, really miss school).

We realize that, even with that information overload, we can’t prepare for everything. Being a teenager is completely different now than when we were teens just a few years ago, when a small percentage of our peers had cell phones and everyone was on MySpace instead of Facebook. When Eliza and Jonas are teenagers and especially–shudder to think–when our not-even-here yet kids are teenagers, things will be different. And we’ll have to be adaptable. And we’ll disagree about some things (I have a feeling I’m going to come down on the “respect their privacy to a degree” side of things while Jake comes down on the “GPS chip our kids and hack into their online journals” side of things), but it will be an ongoing cycle of finding controversial parenting topics, researching them, and talking them out.

And even then, sometimes we won’t fully be on the same page. The only really good example of a Megan-Jake parenting disagreement we could come up with was the great Call of Duty debate. Call of Duty, for those of you who don’t know, is a realistic first person shooter war video game. I didn’t want him to play it around Eliza, he wanted to play it for a few minutes daily when he came home from work to blow off steam. (Why we stood on different sides of the debate is a whole other post, and this is already getting long.) Even though we didn’t agree, we came to a mutual conclusion: he’d only play one game when he got home (15 minutes or so) and Eliza would play in another room (which only did so much because we were living in a loft at the time). After awhile, he cared less about the game and I cared less about her seeing it. Now that she’s older she watches him on the rare occasion he plays it (maybe once a month?), and we use it as an opportunity to talk about history and wars. In the rare occasion that we disagree on a parenting decisions, we try to find a result that will work for both of us. And that has all worked so far.

If you’re a team parent, how do you resolve parenting disagreements? If you’re a single parent, how do you come to your parenting decisions on your own? If you don’t have kids, did your parents/caregivers seem to have disputes about raising you?

Let’s Get Serious is a blog series where we share our opinions and put ourselves out there. We get that not everyone thinks the same way; the same things don’t work for everyone. These are our opinions. They don’t have to be your opinions. We’d like to hear about what you think, but please don’t be mean to us. Let’s respect each other and talk about it!

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