Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A village is never wrong?

Checkup with a father present?  Automatically, a list of "things to talk to the pediatrician about" pops out.  Why? Because we Dads, if asked, "how are things going with Johnny?" will answer, "Oh, not much.  He's a good kid.  So, what...do you have to check him out or something?"

It's not our fault - the Y chromosome is an X with a leg chopped off.  In essence, we could very well be lacking genetic material, stuff that might code for, I don't know, focusing for long enough to remember something...anything?

Switch over to the playground.  One might see a child climbing along the outside of the playground structure, 5 feet up.  If Dad's watching (or...rather...not paying attention at all...), he might look at the child and pause for a second, but then looks around for his other child (you know, the one he hasn't seen for a few minutes?).  If Mom's watching, it's certainly possible that she runs over and grabs the child off the structure, telling him it's too high.

I realize I'm painting with a broad stroke, and certainly, there are exceptions, but there's often a relatively laissez-faire parents and a planner, and though it often falls along the gender lines I created, it can be reversed.  Furthermore, I realize I am omitting single parents and alternate family situations.  The point is, in typical situations, parents tend to complement each other, and the child benefits from that dialogue.  One might say too high, the other says try it.  One blows things off, the other gets the rash checked out.  One says, "why can't she act her age?" while the other says, "She is acing her age."  Dad says, "Oh let him do it, what's the big deal?" and Mom says, "Once he starts, he'll think he can always do it."

Beth and I have a rule (that, now that we've been married for almost 12 years, we seem never to need to invoke anymore).  In the Beth and Brian rulebook, it reads:

"Whensoever a conflict between Beth and Brian shall arise, be it in the realm of child-rearing (a term that always made me snicker a bit), interior decoration, vacation planning, or ice cream flavor choice, the choice shall be determined by rational discussion, but is shifted away from a possible choice if either person really hates that choice."

Worked like a charm.  Beth used to ask me about curtains, furniture color, whatever, and while I usually had an opinion, usually the opinion was, "I don't really care," a phrase that tattoos me XY.  However, every now and then I completely hated one choice.  Decision made.

A famous Islamic passage states that "My community will never agree on an error."  So...make sure that you're listening to your spouse, since it's somewhat possible that the cautious mother, the doofy father, the detail-oriented father, or the absent-minded mother just might have the opinion that helps the 2 of you guide your child in exactly the right way.  Along the way, mutual spousal respect might also evolve.

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