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It's a baby! Now what?

Congratulations - it's a baby!

Where’s the instruction manual?

As new parents, we have plenty of information about raising children, but we seem to have different opinions about all this advice. How can parents agree how to parent?

After endless paperwork and long delays, a call comes from the adoption agency – your child is ready to join the family. Or after months of pregnancy, the baby you’ve felt kicking is finally in your arms. Despite the long process of preparation, the transition to parenthood is filled with surprises. A newborn with an easy-going temperament elicits different types of parenting behaviors than a colicky baby who is difficult to soothe.Couples find themselves negotiating new divisions of household tasks while adjusting to the role of parent. Agreeing how to parent is a dynamic process and each developmental period brings its own set of challenges.

Clarify expectations.

Are there certain behaviors that you always expected to be a part of motherhood? What activities did you assume went along with becoming a dad? When these assumptions are brought to the surface and shared, each spouse gains a deeper understanding of what parenthood means to the other.

Remember that you are on the same team.

Although your reactions to child upbringing may differ, the underlying desire is the same – to make choices that will lead to your child’s healthy development. Focus on your mutual goals and remember that you are partners in desiring a wholesome family life. Once you’ve taken this perspective, start thinking about the specific issue to be resolved.

Set aside time to talk about parenting issues.

Bringing a baby home is a joyous time, but it is also a time of sleep deprivation and disruptions in daily schedules. Disagreements about parenting are more likely when both spouses are exhausted. Make a decision – for now – and agree to talk in depth later. A mutual understanding about responding to a toddler’s persistent nighttime crying is easier to reach during the light of day.

Build relationships with other parents.

It helps to have companions on the parenthood journey. Friendships with other parents can be sources of emotional support and physical help.Check to see if your parish has a faith-sharing group or play group for the parents of young children. Baptism preparation classes are a good place to meet couples who share spiritual values with you.

A key aspect is remembering flexibility in your choices. Decisions tha tfit one child’s personality may need to be adapted for another child’s temperament. Pray to be open to the Spirit as you help your sons and daughters discover their vocations as children of God. (CCC #2226)