This is the third article in a series of ‘Thriving as a mum’
In this last article to wrap up this three part series I want to explore how to manage situations when the type of mum that you want to be is in conflict to the type of parent your friends, family or even partner want to be. This can be when it really gets tricky. Of my three children, decision I make for my son are the easiest as I have no-one else to consider (because I am a single-mum by choice), however for my elder two I have my ex to think about as well. We are two very different types of parents. This is not only because of our personal values but also the way we were raised and the commitment we have individually to our children. Negotiating this minefield, or the lack there of was definitely a contributor to our separation.
So how do we manage situations where our parenting choices differ from those around us?
1. Communicate Your Views
The most important thing in relationships, whether it’s with your husband / partner, friends or family is communication. Relationships shut down when people don’t talk to each other, especially over big issues, and parenting is a big issue!
In the last article I went through 3 steps that you can use to get clear on the type of mum that you want to be: going back to your why, the type of mum you want to be and where you are now. I also suggested that you journal this out (an absolute necessity to get you to the next level). Here’s where your journalling comes in handy – have it in front of you when you chat to you husband / partner. Go through the points and explain your position. Refer to it before you have a chat to your friend. You’ll be amazed at the clarity this brings, and the ease of communication when you’re not having to just remember everything of the top of your head.
A huge portion of communication is listening, it is crucial in moving forward. When we have difficult discussions often we end up being so stuck in our point of view that we don’t want to see anothers. We become defensive, stressed, angry and end up fighting over something that could have been worked out in another way.
Once you’ve gone through your side then it’s time for you to listen to theirs. Talk about their why, the type of parent they want to be and how they feel they might be doing. If you’ve just come up out of the blue to discuss this with them then they themselves might become defensive so don’t push the issue if they can’t (or don’t want to) answer. Just say ‘let’s talk about it later’ and go back once they’ve had time to think. This is not the time for you to put your values and beliefs onto them. Respectful relationships mean hearing each other out.
3. Find the middle ground
Once you’ve been through both sides then it’s time to find the middle ground. This is simple negotiating tactics. finding a position where both parties are happy. On something you might get ‘your way’ and on other things you may not. There may be situations where you agree to disagree, and that might be the simplest way to manage it. It all depends on the situation. If the conflict is great enough then losing the relationship over it may be something that you consider. However this often isn’t the answer and comes with consequences that might not truly be felt and understood until later. Think very seriously about this if it something you are thinking about.
Now this whole process written out here seems quite formal and structured, but it doesn’t have to be. You could just be chatting over dinner or going out with a girlfriend to have a cup of coffee and a chat. Perhaps you want to make it a more formal process with your husband / partner in a family meeting, or maybe just while you’re standing in the kitchen making dinner. Whenever it happens make sure that you keep the lines of communication open.
There we have it, the three part Thriving as a Mum series. Being a thriving mum is all about realising that we have control over our parenting journey and the type of mum that we want to be. When we recognise this, get clear on the type of mum that we want to be and communicate this to those around us then we’re really thriving. If we just go with the flow without taking specific and strategic action then we do okay, just not our best. Our kids deserve to have the best parents they can, and we deserve to look back at the end of our life and know that we did the best we could.
Remember that you can be the type of mum that you want to be. You just have to choose it!