Rafed English

Parenting as a team

"Don't put her on the coffee table," Lucy barked, "or she'll learn she can climb on it!"

"It's no big deal," insisted Todd, hanging onto his newly walking daughter. "She's having fun."

My wife, Susan, and I said nothing. We were visiting our friends, Lucy and Todd Mark, for the weekend, and they were in the midst of yet another dispute on how best to raise their 1-year-old, Katie. This power struggle had been going on since we arrived  -- they were constantly bickering about every aspect of how to care for their adorable, babbling, walking wonder.

Driving back home to Ohio from Georgia, my pregnant wife and I promised each other that we would not be like Lucy and Todd when our baby was born. We would avoid all of the squabbling and all of the arguments. We would parent as a team.

Things didn't quite turn out exactly as we'd imagined. When our daughter Isabelle arrived, instead of being a team, it was more like Susan was the coach and I was the water boy. For instance, there was a lot of crying and screaming when I gave our newborn her first bath. The crying and screaming came mostly from me, which is why Susan took over  -- and even with the birth of our second daughter, Lorelei, my wife still takes the lead in all things related to water, not to mention food, clothing, discipline, car seats, stuffed animals, and keeping the baby photo albums current.

Even with a second baby in the house, Susan and I are still working on working as a team. If you're in the same situation, take comfort in knowing you're not alone and that there are ways to get your team spirit back.

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