Everyone has a different experience as a parent and ignoring our differences is often a source of conflict. It can be easy to judge the way the other is adapting and we tend to criticize but it would be beneficial to accept that we go through this experience differently. Our feminine and masculine nature will affect our adaptation and respecting this nature will help us adapt more easily and will reduce conflicts.
What many women experience:
- Intense desire to be a good mother
- Fear to neglect certains needs of the baby
- Desire to be perfect and/or in constant harmony
- Deceptions caused by expectations
- Mourning the perfect birth or breastfeeding
- Questions and doubts
- Fear of the sudden death syndrome
- Dreaming of an equal share of chores
- Expects a wonderful maternity leave
What many men experience :
- Desire to be a good father
- Desire for the baby to adapt to the couple’s life
- Difficult bonding with the baby
- Feeling of being neglected by his partner
- Mourning his sexual life
- Fear to loose his freedom
- Feeling of incompetence with his child
- Believes that his wife knows what to do
- Sees maternity leaves as holidays
Balancing the roles
Jacques Salomé (famous author on relational communication) discusses the balance of the parents’ roles. First, he defines the roles of mothers and fathers differently. The mother or the father represents the authority, the foundations. The mother or the father represents the games, the fun and the affection towards his or her child. Which means tthat if one parent is very playful and permissive, the other will be more strict and follow the rules. Unknowingly, we try to balance our family life. Ideally, each parent should get a chance to be both strict and playful.
The importance of both
This time, I suggest the difference made by Guy Corneau (psychanalyst and author). During an interview, he mentionned that the role of the mother is to adapt to her child and be reassuring. And the father had to bring his child to adapt to his environment. Here is a little example that I give in my conferences. When a mother is holding her sleepy baby in her arms, she will not move and she will adapt her position for her baby’s well-being. When a father holds his sleepy baby, he will not hesitate to move if he is uncomfortable… and if we warn him about it, he answers that the baby will fall back to sleep! What we learn from this example is that our child will adapt and benefit from our differences!
Being a team
Seeing a family as a team helps us understand that each memebre has his importance and value. You understand that the contribution of each member of a team is determined by his strenghts, his personnality and his limits. It is the same for a family! For a team to be united, everyone must get involved!
Being a team also means being able to see signs of fatigue and discouragement in others. It is being able to take the other’s needs into consideration and to be conscious that a same player cannot score and goal.
A timeout is often needed to review the previous match and make plans for the next game. This is how a team goes in the same direction. Family life requires timeouts too to identify difficulties and make plans.
With this analogy, we understand that one team member can need rest and help sometimes. Each member is unique and his contribution is importion is important. It means that we must acknowledge and value our differences. After all, we are all equal and we all want the same thing: a united and happy family.