When It Comes To Parenting, Does One Size Fit All?

parents fighting in front of kids
Love, Family

Does one size fit all? What happens when two parents see their kids in different ways?

Don't get me wrong. Frank is a class-A father, coaching sports teams, leading scout trips. He knows his sons, knows to take one to sports films, the other to a photography exhibit, but both to New Jersey Devils hockey games. He knows which one will eagerly help him rebuild a cranky household appliance and which one prefers yardwork. Equally Shared Parenting

It's the more nuanced proclivities we seem to perceive differently. Slipping grades? I concoct a strategy for one kid (homework timers, a silent setting, charts) that would never work for the other (background music, online reminders, rewards), while Frank suggests yanking TV time. Preparing for a school presentation? I've learned that the over-careful teen (ironically at ease before an audience) requires only a quick run-through and scrawled notes. His normally adventurous brother, meanwhile, needs exhaustive rehearsals, numbered index cards and plenty of confidence-boosting. Frank, proudly confident for them both, thinks that reading the report aloud, once, should do.

Why do I interpret my kids' diversity as a mandate to continually deconstruct and refashion my approach, while my husband strides confidently ahead, applying solution A to cause B? I struggle not to blindly ascribe it to maternal instincts, just as I try not to credit tire-changing skills to the Y chromosome; and yet I admit that I can't do the deed myself, so that explanation may not be so far off. Maybe it's more about men's innate urge to solve problems now, while a woman's inclination is to probe, fabricate, collaborate (Mars-Venus, anyone?). Are Gender Differences A Myth?

I know my husband can out-parent me in several categories, and I'm more curious than upset when I notice the unequal ways we respond to our sons' divergent temperaments. I've been wrong sometimes. Perhaps I could learn something from my straightforward husband's less cumbersome approach.

Lisa Romeo, once a reluctant mother, is raising two sons in New Jersey with her husband, who is more or less her opposite.