Prior to becoming parents, most people are only responsible for themselves. While people can (and usually do) stop to think about how their decisions may affect their loved ones, for the most part each choice is made with only one person in mind: me. When you're a parent, however, you're automatically responsible for making decisions about and for your child. And while some compromise is needed when people are raising children, there are certain things parents fundamentally agree on when they're good parents. In fact, there are things that aren't even up for negotiation.
Partners can, and should, openly talk about what is important to them when it comes to raising children. Life isn't ideal, though, and few situations are ever perfect. In fact, modern day parenting looks different than parenthood did even a decade ago. Families are so incredibly varied now, our world has vastly changed, and information is so free-flowing that it can be difficult if not downright impossible to find a parenting style that works best for you and your family. Well, at least without a little (read: a lot) of trial and error first.
The family dynamic is no longer limited to a female and a male raising 2.5 children. All families are diverse and incredible in their own ways. And while society is still coming to terms with "non-conventional" families, the fact that people are, in many ways, more comfortable living how they want to live is pretty amazing and worthy of celebration.
That said, and regardless of any family's unique dynamic, parenting is still tough. Techniques and styles are constantly changing, new parents are relentlessly scrutinized, and in the United States parents still can't rely on mandatory paid family leave. Parenting styles may have been renamed, revamped, and re-marketed, but the basics of raising children remain more so the same. So when it comes to parenting, and while there are moments when compromise is beneficial, there are a few things that, as parents, you have to agree on if you're going to win at this whole parenting thing.
Your Children's Health
When it comes to the health of your children, there should be absolutely no compromise. The physical and mental health of a child should be the number one priority of all parents. There should be no compromise regarding vaccinations or visits to the pediatrician. Sure, one of the parents may think a bump on the head isn't as big of a deal as the other parent, or that a scraped knee does not warrant an Emergency Room visit, but overall, there should be a mutual agreement about the kids' health.
Parents should sit down and discuss their preferred disciplining techniques and come up with something they both feel comfortable doing. While a compromise would be one parent just giving in to his or her partner's wishes, a better approach would be to go into parenting with preset ideas of what kind of discipline will work for the both of you. The thing about discipline, however, is that what you think may work for a kid, may not work at all and both parents must go back to the drawing board to come up with something more efficient.
Your Children's Manners
There is no such thing as having "too many" manners, so if one parent believes in letting the children just do as they please and be rude, the other parent must step in and teach the child manners. Manners are often cultural and in my multicultural family, manners are subject to discussion. My husband may not understand why something is considered impolite in my culture, for example, and it is up to me to teach him and our children.
There is no compromise when it comes to time spent as a family. I come from a very tight-knit family and I expect my children to value family as much as I do. There is absolutely nothing negative about spending as much time as you possibly can with your family (when your family is safe and healthy and not, of course, toxic or abusive). In fact, and as Parents highlights, research often suggest that family time builds strong ethics and morals in children.
My husband's family, on the other hand, isn't as close as mine, so he may not understand why it's so important to me to make sure we spend time together and with our families. However, there is no compromise to be had here: family will always be a priority for us.
Your Parental Roles
Both my husband and I are not trying to be our children's friends. Parents should not be their kids' buddies. They can be confidants, protectors, listeners, and role models, but not friends. My husband and I don't compromise our roles are parents for our children. Sometimes that means being the "bad guys" and the "mean parents," but parenting shouldn't be about getting your kids to like you. Instead, it's about keeping your kids out of trouble, raising them to be kind and decent human beings, and preparing them for life as an adult.
Your Ethical & Moral Beliefs
We all want to raise respectful, kind, strong, determined, ethical people. We want to make sure our children have opportunities and open doors. We want to make sure our children are happy and successful (whatever success ends up meaning to our children). At the same time, however, we need to make sure our children are also moral individuals and that their ethics are not up for compromise.
Being A Single Parenting Unit
There isn't much room for compromise in parenting because children must see their parents as one cohesive and unwavering unit. Yes, the parents are individuals with their own personalities, but overall, parents should parent as one. Children should know that if one parent says "no," the other parents will say no, too. Children should learn that their parents work together and support each other and are not, in fact, pawns kids can use in a little game they like to call "manipulate my parents until they're pitted against one another so I can get my way."