NOTHING can sink a relation like differences over parenting. Sometimes the areas of disagreement are stark and dramatic, leading to blowups and out-and-out breaks. Most of the time they’re subtle and unstated, a matter of dark looks and long-simmering resentments, that erode, rather than rupture, formerly close relationships.
How Overparenting affected relationship with my Husband
“We will not over indulge as parents”
“We will give space to each other”
“We will respect each other’s opinion”
“We will not go by the book- rather enjoy parenting as just another extension to our lives”
These were some of the resolutions my husband & I decided upon the day we entered parenthood. A soft & caring person as he is, I knew he would be an equally doting and totally involved parent when it comes to kids. However little did I know that there exists an extreme to the aspect of parenting as well- Over parenting!
It started from the time of birth of our twins. Initially I did understand the fuss about hygiene and cleanliness around for our newborns, but then it started going to another level. From ensuring how their clothes were being washed to washing each & every feeding bottle by himself- I saw my husband going overboard in terms of taking care of our babies. A guest coming over to see our babies was supposed to go through several levels of screening before entering our room- no slippers, mask, sanitised hands, no kids etc etc- my husband started nestling our newborns in a protective layer to minimise their exposure to germs in the atmosphere. I started hating that sanitiser bottle that used to linger around me & the babies 24*7!
I remember the first time I massaged our babies and how I felt those 2 eyes judging each & every stroke of mine to ensure that I am being gentle and the babies don’t get hurt. Hurt? I mean- I am the mother and somebody doubting my actions and instructing me how to bathe or soothe a baby was something not acceptable. Wasn’t I supposed to be more aware and more caring? After all I am the mom!
He practiced total attachment parenting. He never let anyone watch our babies. He would spend hours reading how to feed the baby, how NOT TO hold the baby, how to burp the baby etc etc and preached this to anyone and everyone to ensure ‘his’ babies were fine.
The extent of being Selfless
I understand parenting is our first introduction to unselfish love but giving your whole life to them is not the making of an ideal parent. I saw my husband lose sight of his own life and take on our children’s lives as his own. In this process, I could feel he was forfeiting essential parts of himself- leaving him less vital and alive as person. And the one thing that a child needs in a parent is a person who is vital and alive. He stopped going to play Soccer (which was his first love at one point), he took a long break from work just to be around and for the kids. All this ended up making him too involved with the kids. But in reality, sacrificing yourself for your children can be the least selfless thing that you can do for them.
I don’t give up my whole self just for them… I am sorry but this is a huge mistake women make, this leads to raising boys that expect women giving up their total existence for a man, or it leads girls expecting her husband to give up all he is for her.
As our children grew older, he started following the mantra – Say No to No! I wasn’t allowed to set boundaries. If I order a toy- it was supposed to be ordered for both kids separately. He didn’t want either of the two to cry for anything, forget about teaching concept of sharing & all at this stage. I was at my wits’ end.
A disconnected relationship
No matter the cause, no matter how well-managed the reaction, the disagreements arising over parenting practices can hit hard and cut deep. Because what’s at stake is much more than different ideas about the limits to be put on TV time, the food to be offered etc. What is often triggered, in the divide between what mothers and fathers do or don’t do — whether or not those differences escalate into out-and-out confrontations — are convictions that push all the most basic parent-buttons.
There was a time I started doubting my own capabilities as a mother just because I wasn’t hovering over our kids all the time. Our daughter had just started walking and one day in a park she toddled up 10-15 steps and was exploring the space on her own. I was around keeping a watch from a close distance. My husband spotted this and called out to me – “who’s watching over her?”. I was baffled. I was hurt. I was standing just a feet away watching our daughter enjoy the new leant skill. Where’s my partner’s trust in me gone?
I don’t think there is anything that causes as much strain in a marriage as having a baby. From lack of sleep, to impact on finances to over all exhaustion- it does take a toll. However, the impact of overparening and difference in parenting styles lasts a bit longer and can take time to get sorted.Often I see this happening when the child is still the first priority and a primary focus over the marriage or the family as a whole.
We soon realised this to be a big area of disagreement amongst us that was affecting our relationship as well. That’s when we hit the alarm button and decided to work it out together as a team. It was time to stand back, hold each other’s hand, and marvel at the small beings we created.
As much as we watch to see what our children do with their lives, they are watching us to see what we do with ours. I can’t tell my children to reach for the sun. All I can do is reach for it, myself. ~Joyce Maynard