Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Lessons of 2016 #3: Parenting Differences

It's no new revelation to me that Jeff and I parent differently.  I've known that at least since June 1, 2009 (which remains one of the all-time funniest examples of the creative, innovative, results-oriented style of dad that Jeff is).  ;-)  But this year, I've pondered further and gained several deeper insights about these parenting differences.

First (and this is a generalization, of course, but with some truth to it), Jeff seeks to enrich our children's lives by bringing home something interesting and fun to them; I seek to achieve that goal by taking them to something interesting and fun outside our home.  For example, Jeff thinks, "Won't it be a great experience for the kids to get to see puppies being born and growing up?" and I think, "Let's enroll the kids in some classes at the community college this summer."  Jeff thinks, "Chicks are cute; I'll stop and get some on Wednesday," and I think, "Why don't we go to the park this evening?"

It only makes sense, of course.  Jeff spends so much time away from home because of his job that, in his relaxation, he wants to be at home; and so his preferred method of interacting with our children is here at home, too.  (Which is not to say that it's only at home--of course not!  He still regularly takes them out for breakfast dates and other outings, but again, the generalization holds true.)  I'm at home with the children "all the time," so I look to time with them away from home to be special.  As much as I love being at home (I really am a homebody), I also enjoy the chance to vary our enrichment experiences by going somewhere else.

How wonderful for our kids to get to experience both the "hey, what a fun thing to do at home" and the "let's get out and do something new" kind of enjoyment.  I'm grateful for the different perspectives Jeff and I bring to parenting and the different ideas we have for how to love and care for and nurture and educate our children--not to mention, provide excitement and entertainment for them.  But here's the rub.

The things Jeff thinks would be great for our children sometimes create more work for me.

The things I think we should take the kids to sometimes create more work for him.

Having the puppies, for example, was an amazing rich and memorable experience for the kids; but it added significantly to my work load (and I'm not complaining because I LOVED those puppies!).  My desire to go to the park for dinner last Saturday evening (blog post about that hopefully soon!) was really a request for Jeff to sacrifice his own comfort because he was exhausted after a long week of work and would have rather stayed home to relax (errr, work) in the garden!  :)
What's one trip to the park, you might wonder; but think about the fact that many of the extras we've involved the kids in (children's choir, speech and debate club for Josiah, extra choir events like a recent dinner party in a castle...blog post about that soon, too!...trip across the mountain to the trampoline park) require a sacrifice of time and energy from Jeff--often when he is the busiest and most tired.  I am so grateful for his willingness to give and give and give of himself!

What's the takeaway from all of this?  I suppose it's two-fold.

First, Jeff and I both love our children deeply and seek to bring things into their lives to teach them something new and build enjoyable memories for them.  Love is the motivation for both of us, even though we show it in different ways.

Second, I need to pause to consider Jeff's needs when I suggest that we do something outside the home with the children--whether that be an evening outing or an extra class or something else--and realize that my grand ideas may actually involve a huge amount of extra work for him.  Being the outstanding dad that he is, he makes extraordinary sacrifices for the sake of me and our children, and I am sure he will continue to do so.  But perhaps, once in a while (or more often than that!), I can adjust my ideas for enrichment for our children to something that will be easier for him.  Maybe--occasionally--instead of, say, driving somewhere and going for a hike, we could stay at home.

Maybe, just maybe, we could even work relax in the garden.  ;-)

For Lessons of 2016 #1, click here...and for #2, click here.


sally said...

Staying home...seems to me I've heard/thought about that theme recently.... ;)

Carol Slater said...

Your relationship sounds like mine. My husband has a garage next to our home that he works from, but in his time off( which is rare), he does not want to leave home. I, on the other hand, would prefer to be away from home when he is off. It is a hard decision to decide who gets to do what.

Emily said...

I LOVE your new header picture! So beautiful!