“Two people who are on the same page, working together towards the same goal, can accomplish anything.” – My Dad (referring to marriage)
I’ve heard my dad make this proclamation often. The first time was when I was in my late teens. Having now been married for 20-plus years, I would give a nod to its accuracy related to marriage, and to raising children. “Being on the same page” and “working together towards the same goal” exemplify a true partnership, in my mind. And partnership best describes my husband’s and my parenting style. We both are equally responsible for our children’s success. We both gave it our all, putting in 100% to ensure that our children reached their full potential, and we continue to do so; though, as parents of young adults, our roles are more along the lines of providing support and giving guidance rather than being hands-on.
Because it worked so well for us, I believe partnership parenting is highly effective. The basis of this parenting style is a direct and intentional focus on promoting the child’s well-being and success. The parents mutually agree and are committed to the goal of nurturing, protecting, and cultivating the child into a well-adjusted, successful adult. With partnership parenting, the marriage or intimate relationship between the parents can dissolve, yet the parenting partnership remains intact. Unless parental involvement negatively impacts the child, nothing interferes with either parent’s involvement in the child’s life, and a mutually respectful, amicable relationship between the parents.
Here’s a scenario to illustrate partnership parenting. The child’s current educational environment isn’t meeting her needs. If possible, both parents meet with teachers, administrators, etc. to problem solve. Going forward, if there’s no improvement, the parents jointly decide the next steps. If those next steps involve unanticipated financial considerations, e.g., tutoring, private school, etc., both figure out how to afford the cost and if necessary, both agree to make concessions such as decreasing spending in one or more areas. With partnership parenting, the scenario plays out the same way for married/involved couples as it does for separated/divorced or otherwise dissolved unions. Partnership parenting is unambiguous and the level of commitment does not change based on the level of intimacy between the parents. As such, partnership parenting is not for the immature or the self-absorbed.
Optimally, adults should begin thinking about the dynamics of parenting before the birth of the child, as it’s a huge lifestyle change that requires serious dedication and a tremendous amount of sacrifice (time, resources, etc.). As part of the parenting responsibility, at the appropriate time, we should educate our children about the characteristics to seek in a spouse. Unfortunately, some of us don’t know what to look for or how to attract someone who has the requisite qualities. If you have a pattern of attracting or being attracted to the immature and self-absorbed, you may need to seek help, such as therapy.
Once you’ve nurtured, given guidance, and cultivated wonderful children, you want to equip them with the foresight and skills to do the same for their progeny. You want them to attract and be attracted to someone who shares their values (two people on the same page) and strives with them (working together) to achieve common goals. With partnership parenting, the sky’s the limit. You can accomplish anything.
In next month’s post, we’ll share Our Story.