Perfectionism, Partners, and Parenting Differences


It turns out I have a perfectionist streak. You wouldn’t know it by the state of my house or my appearance on a given day; because outer appearances don’t matter as much to me as behaviors do. Particularly my own. I am my own harshest critic and I hate to see my weaknesses bubble out of me especially when they boil over on my kiddo. If I lose my temper with her or even internally lose my patience, I can beat myself up about it to the point of bitter tears for days. My depressive thoughts wonder whether she’d be better off without me, and then my inner critic shames me for ever considering abandoning my family. And around and around it goes.

Lately I’ve been noticing behaviors of my husband where it concerns our daughter that I find irritating. I usually observe and wait until the moment has passed and then swoop in with my helpful observations with a heavy dose of I’ve-worked-with-young-kids-and-read-all-the-blogs-on-parenting. My husband usually listens and takes in some of those “words of wisdom” to apply to his parenting later. But that’s the thing I’m coming to realize: his parenting is allowed to be different than my parenting. 

Of course I still hold firm that we need to be on the same page about the big things: discipline methods, daily routines, our goal of raising kind humans, etc… But maybe I need to let go of his word choice and tone of voice when he speaks to our daughter. Maybe I should stop internalizing his frustration with her whining or our infant’s fussing. Maybe it’s ok for him to struggle to get our toddler to do what she needs to do at the moment. Maybe the lesson in my frustration with him and the bottom line of my depressive thoughts is that I’m not a perfect parent so why would I hold anyone else to that standard? And, why would I assume that my parenting choices need to perfectly synchronize with my husband’s? Ultimately, he needs to decide what kind of relationship he wants to have with our children and then determine the best way to accomplish his goal.

I should add for clarity, my husband is an attentive sweet and loving daddy. He is doing a straight up bang up job raising a kind, funny, and independent kiddo so far, and I have every confidence that he’ll find his parenting groove just like I will. 

How do you and your partner parent differently from each other? How do you deal with it?

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Karli Haviland
I am a Flagstaff local from toddlerhood. I went to FALA for high school and graduated from NAU with a BA in Secondary English Education. I married my high school sweetheart, and together we’re building our life with our toddler Moira, whom I stay at home with full time. My passion is working with pregnant people during their journey to and through birth and post partum as a birth doula and birth photographer, and I work with another doula in town to provide those services to the Flagstaff community. I dance and perform with a Modern Dance company several times a year, and I teach baby & me music and dance classes around town weekly. I enjoy reading, hiking with friends, and playing Zelda in my spare time.