The day you had your first child is the day that everyone else became an expert on how to raise your child. Everyone has their opinion on how you should be caring for your children. Sometimes all of the differing advice can get overwhelming.
Just as much as the advice and opinions of others can add stress to your life, so can holidays and family traditions. Let’s take a look at some things that you can do to overcome the stress that both of these situations can bring.
Politely Decline the Unwanted Advice
Our parents have been guilty of being “experts” from time to time. They have tried to coach us on how to parent. While the intentions are always good, my wife and I have the tendency to ignore most of these unwanted “tips”. I call them “tips” because they are outdated ideas. For example, I remember having a conversation with my father about sleeping habits. I am extremely paranoid about anything bad happening to my kids during the night, and I check on them often. If my six-month-old son is on his chest when I check on him, I flip him over to his back. My dad promptly told me not to worry because I slept on my face, and I’m still alive. I just smiled and said "to each their own." There are other instances where my wife and I just say thank you to the suggestions and do things we feel are right. If it's good advice, we will use it. Just make sure you and your partner on the same page so you'll know what tips you can politely decline.
Pick and Choose Parenting Styles
It might sound cliché, but I have always admired my dad. I want to be just like him. Both of my parents were very good at finding a balance between having a friendship with my brother and I, but still being stern when we got out of line. I love this parenting approach. My wife didn’t have the same experience however. Her parents took on the good cop, bad cop roles. Her dad was very stern and authoritative, while her mom was the fun mom. With two different views of parenting, my wife and I discussed how we would want to parent. We both adopted more of my parent’s style, where we are our children’s friend, but can provide discipline when needed. Communication is key, so talk with your spouse or partner about the type of parents you'd like to be.
Holidays can be stressful because both sides of the family want your undivided time. How do you split this up? Many people have had success in switching years; spending the holiday with one family one year, and the next the year after. This, however, hasn’t always worked for our family. My wife’s family lives out of state and my parents live a town away. My wife’s family insists that we spend all of the holidays with them since we can see my parents any time we want. For obvious reasons, this doesn’t go over well. After discussing it with my wife, we decided to start our own family traditions. It might feel like we are punishing both sides by doing this, but we both feel that our own sanity and stress levels are worth it.
Like anything else, communication is key to deciding what type of parents you want to be and what family traditions you will have. I firmly believe that my wife and children come first and everything else is secondary. If you have that approach, making these types of decisions will become a lot clearer.