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The Early Years: Sharing the responsibility

Raising children is hard work. One thing we can do to make this task easier is share the responsibility with another adult. For many, this partner is a spouse or the father or mother of your child. Some may share this responsibility with a parent or grandparent. Regardless of who your helpmate is, sharing the responsibility of raising a child can be a daunting and stressful task.

One way we can make this sharing easier is to pass on important information in respectful ways. We need to let our helper know what has happened thus far in the day regarding the eating and sleeping schedule of the child. When passing on this information, treat the co-caregiver with respect and not like they are the stand-in until you return. Make decisions together regarding the child. Topics for discussion may include: what should we do about this behavior, where should we have the child go to daycare, what activities should the child participate in?

It is important and okay to let your child bond with someone else. For mothers this can be a real challenge. We carried the baby for nine months and are often the main caregiver for the first few months of our baby's life. Yet there are others who want to have a close relationship with our children. It's okay to share! We need to encourage and trust these vital relationships.

Supporting your spouse as a parent is crucial. Other people are not going to do things exactly as you do them, but that is okay. When my girls were little, I struggled with this. It was hard to let my husband take over the bedtime routine or bath time because he did it differently than I did. We need to look past details that don't really matter in the big scheme of things. The kids were bathed and in bed, so did it really matter if the routine was different?

Kids learn at an early age that Mom and Dad, or Grandpa and Grandma, do things differently. We need to let these other caregivers establish their own special routines with the kids. Letting others help with the daily care giving routines creates bonding experiences that will be an important connection later in life. Sharing these responsibilities can help strengthen the bonds of extended family and can help in passing on valued family norms and traditions.

Allowing your child to love someone else does not mean they love you less. Love is an expanding resource!