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Avoiding Competition over Parenting

by Maxine
Posted August 19 2010 12:06pm
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Here are some more tips from our experts to help you and your partner avoid competing over your differing parenting strategies.

Society’s influence

Be aware of how society's expectations may be influencing how each of you approaches parenting. If you’re like the majority of new parents, neither of you is an expert. Research shows that in this day and age, moms are no more knowledgeable, skillful or confident at handling babies than dads are—although society expects moms to be more expert. In large blocks of Canadian society, dads are not expected to know anything at all about babies, and there are pressures to give moms the lead in parenting.

Think this over—and talk it over. In your situation, is Mom really more knowledgeable about parenting than Dad? If she is the "expert" parent, is that the way you want it to be? There is no one correct way to answer these questions, but it may help to discuss your views about this with one another.

Your baby’s favourite

Don't let your baby's natural preference for one of you at a particular time trigger guilt or insecurity. It's normal for children to have some preference for the person with whom they spend the most time. For tiny babies, that person is usually Mom, and in some cases, it's Dad. However, most babies are also interested in any person who comes into their lives, especially a playful, smiling person.

In Canada, moms frequently take on most of the routine care of infants and spend the most time with them. Dads, while providing less routine care, are no less important in their babies' lives. Much of their time spent with baby is playful and activity-driven. Babies frequently prefer receiving care from one parent and play from another. It's important not to let this slip into a competition. Your baby needs both of you.

Equal tasks

Make sure that each of you shares fun tasks as well as difficult ones. Taking care of your baby is demanding and relentless. It’s essential that each of you has fun with your baby.

Criticism hurts

Each of you is probably sensitive to criticism from the other. Research shows that over 90% of new parents say that parenting is the most important thing they do and yet, they know little about parenting and child development. So there they are, with a tiny precious bundle and little idea about what to do.

In many cases, both parents fear failure at this most important responsibility. This makes them very sensitive to criticism, especially from each other. It is even worse for dads because they already have society telling them they are inferior to moms at parenting. The bottom line? Avoid criticizing each other.


Remember to compliment and encourage each other's parenting style. Parents who support each other generally have children who are better adjusted than the children of parents in conflict. Offer each other help and support. You made this baby and now, you're in this together! Genuine compliments and encouragement about each other's parenting style go a long way towards making a happy family.

Keep your couple relationship healthy and strong. The relationship you have as a couple will have a direct impact on your relationship as parents, a parenting team and a family.  With the added responsibilities of parenthood and care of a new baby, it is important to spend time as a couple.  (LINK to Quality couple time articles.)

How do you avoid competing as parents? Share your tips by leaving a comment below.


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