"Do I have to wear a jacket, Dad?"
"Of course! It's only six degrees outside!"
"Yeah, but honey," Mom intervenes, "It is going up to fourteen today, he'll just end up stuffing it in his backpack. You're fine as you are, sweetie."
"Great!" Boy celebrates, "Thanks, Mom!"
Dad is not done, however.
"But, you're the one always worried about him catching a cold because he's not dressed properly."
"Well, sure." She answers, "When it's minus five and there's snow on the ground. Not when it's late spring!"
"But," He keeps going, "Six degrees is six degrees. Why is six degrees in March any different than six degrees in May?"
And so on.
Welcome to parenting in 2016.
Have they been on the iPad for too long, or do they deserve some downtime after scoring well on their report cards?
Before getting dessert, do they have to eat four pieces of broccoli, or six, or all of it? Did you give them as many florets as last time? If the number of florets has increase, they'll notice and refuse to eat them, and you'll have to explain yourself.
They're playing with that new toy, because Dad said they could. But Dad was unaware that Mom told them they had to clean their rooms today. So, can they clean their rooms just a little later, since it's Saturday, and Dad, after all, did give them permission to play with their new toy.
Mom said they could stay up later tonight, "What?" says Dad, "We just talked about how tired they are in the morning!" Mom replies, "I know, but they only have four days of school this week, so I thought we could have a special family movie night."
Are parents exhausted at the end of the day because of parenting, or because of each other?
Any single parent probably would not need very much time to prove how much more difficult it is managing a household without a partner to support you. But, when there are two of you, do debating and nitpicking augment the stress level unnecessarily?
There is a certain peace which comes with being able to make a decision, even a "bad" one, without having to run in by your partner.
Too tired to make supper? I'm ordering pizza...without a conversation about budget and nutrition.
I'm watching this movie with the kids,...because they want to, and I, just this once, don't want to defend whether it's appropriate, or explain the research I've done online to justify my decision.
Sometimes paradise is defined simply by being able to say "yes" or "no" all by your grown-up self.
One study, and article after article online describe moms who simply want alone time for Mother's Day. That's it. Time without their partner, without the kids, and without having to decide anything for anyone but herself.
We Gen-Xers and Gen-Yers have so much literature available to us (much of which contains information which will be updated and/or changed by the time we successfully implement those ideas) we think about and analyze nearly everything about our children. Not only can we still not reach a consensus of agreement from family to family, but we still even have a hard time presenting a united opinion in front of our children (which can destroy your children's respect for your authority, if you believe the literature).
I once heard the difference between the Gen-X/Yers' parenting style and the Baby-Boomers' parenting style described in the following way:
Yesterday's parents worry about what will happen; today's parents worry about what might happen.
I think that is absolutely on point.
So, for Mother's Day and Father's Day, how about this: let's move up our New Year's resolution date from January 1st 2017, to late May 2016, and resolve that, before second-guessing our partner, we will ask ourselves, "What real harm can come from what's about to happen? What do I have to gain, compared to the energy I am going to lose, by debating the number of broccoli florets on a plate, or the temperature at 8 AM vs 1 PM and how that temperature change should be reflected in my child's outerwear?"
Let it go.
Let it free your body,
Let it move your soul.
- Luba 1984