Chapter 9 of When Two Become Three tackles Developing a Parenting Philosophy. This chapter is fairly short, and mentions that there are tons of books specifically dedicated to deciding on parenting philosophies. It is mentioned in this book because, as mentioned in previous chapters, getting on the same page about parenting decisions can be very helping when it comes to maintaining a healthy relationship with your partner.
Mark E. Crawford mentions that all marriages are cross-cultural in one way or another. Each partner comes into the marriage with their own experiences, traditions, etc. He illustrates the point with an argument he had with his wife about the direction toilet paper should go on the roll, but mentions religion and holiday traditions as other typical points of contention.
His advice to couples is to “accept influence” from their partners – in many cases, there’s not a hard and fast “right and wrong” way to go about things. Both partners have their reasons for wanting to do things a certain way, and their reasons may both be equally valid. It’s important to discuss as much as possible before marriage or children, and get on the same page.
Crawford then moves on to discussing how children can change the equation, emphasizing that children are unique individuals with their own personalities. He mentions an analogy that Dr. Wendy Mogel once made, equating children with a packet of unlabeled seeds. This is important to keep in mind as you develop a parenting philosophy – just because certain things worked for you as a child, does not mean that they will be as effective or healthy for your children. It’s important to keep your parenting philosophy flexible as you learn more about your child’s preferences and personality.
Crawford also gives a few more tips on developing a parenting philosophy, including establishing which rules re non-negotiable – maybe things like “don’t hit other people” or “no cursing.” He also mentions that it’s important to agree on how discipline will be conducted.
Crawford ends the chapter by reminding couples to stay flexible, one of the prevailing themes of the advice throughout the book.
Join us next week as we discuss the final chapter: Special Issues with Stepfamilies.