Let me start out by saying that obviously nobody knows what really goes on in a marriage except the two people who are in it. And let me also say that I know nobody approaches divorce lightly, and that there are absolutely unfortunate circumstances in which children need to be protected from a parent.
And the more I think about it I realize I’m not so much speculating about this week’s world-rocking Brangelina divorce petition as I am contemplating some things that have been floating around in the back of my head for some time.
Namely, our desire as mothers to ensure our children are parented in the exact way we think they should be.
Media reports indicate that Angelina Jolie is seeking sole custody of the couple’s six children and asking that Brad Pitt only receive visitation. There could be legitimate reasons for this. It could simply be a legal strategy that hits hard in order to leave room for negotiation in the divorce settlement. Or, it could be that she really, really wants to be the sole parental influence because she doesn’t particularly care for his specific approach to parenting.
Rumors run rampant while solid information is scarce. First reports implied that substance abuse might have been a factor. Gossip magazines speculated an affair. Some articles cited inside sources who alluded to “parenting differences” that caused conflict, pointing to Angelina’s strong opinions about how the children should be raised. Recent allegations include physical abuse that is under investigation.
Like I said before, nobody knows what’s going on in the marriage except for the people inside of it.
But it’s the “parenting differences” that caught my attention. It’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, independent of Brangelina. And I’m starting to realize that no matter how much we try, our children will never be parented exactly the way we’d like them to be.
Take my house, for example. My husband is much more liberal with screen time. Meals don’t have to have a vegetable, or even be eaten at the table. Sometimes he handles situations much more sternly than I would. Sometimes he handles things much less sternly than I would. If I’m not home things operate quite differently than when I am, and I’m not going to lie – it’s caused me quite a bit of anxiety.
I’ll take it a bit further. It’s also caused me quite a bit of frustration and anger.
Mamas, this truth has been whispered to my heart recently and I wanted to share it with you. As much as we talk about mother’s instinct and the importance of a mother and of the power of a mother’s love, there is a fact we sometimes too easily forget. Our children were given to our husbands just as much as they were given to us.
We may think we know best. We may have the research on our side. We may default to the idea that mothers are nurturers, and we were physically bonded together as these babies grew within our bodies.
Face it, we think we know best when it comes to our children.
We need to let go of some of that pride. Release some of that control. Recognize that even if we married someone that shares our overall vision of parenting, they are not exactly the same as us.
Parents are different. Parents will always be different. Assuming (of course) an overall healthy and non-abusive environment, we need to start trusting our husbands’ parenting methods as equally valid.
Not acceptable, not secondary, not passable, but just as good as ours.
What daddies offer might be different, but that doesn’t mean it’s worse. After all, our kids weren’t just entrusted to us. They were entrusted to both of us.