C. Lee Reed is a working mom who was always responsible for all aspects of child care -- until her husband was laid off as a result of the struggling economy. "It sounded so easy to have Daddy handle 95 percent of the daily care taking now that he had free time," says Reed, from Tampa, FL. "Problem is, I had my way of doing things, while he just did them -- no particular way needed -- simply to get it accomplished. After fighting about the frequency of nap time, the tightness of the diaper band, how much water the baby should drink, when to put on her socks, et cetera, we realized that the stress of our bickering and my worrying about what went on while I was at work was hampering the family's dynamic."
This scenario is acted out in many households, with one parent (typically the mom) playing a more active role in daily parenting responsibilities. Then, when her spouse steps in to help, a power struggle can sometimes ensue. A study from Ohio State University found that when it comes to co-parenting young children, the less a father is involved in caregiving duties, the stronger the relationship is between the two parents. The study explains that fathers do better when they're playing with their child, but that problems arise between parents when dads take part in child-care activities, like preparing meals and giving a bath.
"At one time or another, even the most compatible caregivers find themselves struggling over whose technique or method is better," says Anastasia Gavalas, M.S., a parenting education consultant and mother of five (www.anastasiagavalas.wordpress.com). "The most important thing to remember is that the best way to parent is in a way that is authentic and right for each individual person."
So, how do you co-parent together peacefully? Here are some expert tips.