Parenting is a team sport. Team sports require you to work together to win, and each team member must be focused and ready to play the game. In the Parenting Game both parents must show up and be ready to play. How are you showing up? Are you focused on being a parent? Are you ready to play?
Let’s start at the beginning of the Parenting Game. Typically, you have your first child and it's one child and two parents, which means the team’s defense is in double-team coverage. In sports, a double-team defense is an alignment in which two players are assigned to guard a single offensive player. The defensive players have assistance against the offensive player. In the Parenting Game there are two parents caring for one child, which means there is another player helping you care for one child.
Single parents and parents of multiples, I know that your team looks different. This story may not relate directly to you, but perhaps there are some tips you can still use.
When our first child was born, we were both overwhelmed in learning how to care for an infant. I remember watching Dan change Danielle’s cloth diaper for the first time. I forced myself to be quiet and let him do it his way. It wasn’t easy, since I thought I knew the best way to do it, and it looked like he was struggling. When he finished, he was so proud of himself and gave his daughter a hug. It touched my heart and I was glad I kept quiet! I realized that his way of doing things was different than mine. Team members on a sports team can shoot the ball differently and still score.
Different doesn't always mean wrong.
As we continued to double-team our Parenting Game, we were able to take turns parenting. As a breast-feeding Mom, I had the task of feeding her, which left burping and diaper duty for Dan. I didn’t think that was quite fair, so I tried to hand Danielle to him as soon as I was done feeding her. That way he could do the last burping, hold and comfort her to sleep. Sometimes I wasn’t ready to let her out of my arms. I loved holding her. it was hard to share, but it was Dan’s turn to be a parent.
Just like in sports, a team member is put on the bench for a variety of reasons. It doesn’t matter that they still want to play, but for the good of the team, they are out and others get to play. Other times in a game, team members ask for a break. They need a rest. The same thing happened in our Parenting Game. Occasionally, I was happy to hand her off. I would enjoy a peaceful shower or a nap. Double team coverage was very effective and it was wonderful to have assistance.
Some tips to win the Parenting Game using the double-team defense:
Let each person have their own style. There are many ways to score/parent.
Be a team player. Let go of the ball/child. Remember both of you are parents, so don’t try doing it all by yourself.
The only way for me to accomplish these things was to work at it. I would visualize the image of Dan holding Danielle shortly after her birth. In that moment, I could see and feel his love for her and I knew he would be an amazing dad for her. But, I needed to let him. I kept that image in my mind, so I could bite my tongue and let him parent with his own style. I needed to be a team player, so we could win the Parenting Game together!