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Tandem Parenting

May 17, 2010

photo by Rennes Le Chateau

My husband loves to bike. At one point early on in our relationship we thought it might be an activity we would enjoy together. Except it turned out that I hated biking. I’ve found a couple of things that make it more tolerable for me, namely padded shorts and bike paths with no cars. But still, biking is not an activity that I enjoy on my own. On a vacation a few years ago, my husband and I rented a tandem bike and we both really enjoyed riding together. So this year as our Mother’s and Father’s Day gifts to each other, we bought a used tandem bike.

Yesterday we took our first ride. We went out for about 6 miles, which was much shorter than his usual rides but just right for me. The bike we just purchased is a little different from the one we had rented. The pedals on this bike are synchronized, meaning that we need to coordinate our pedaling with each other. On the rental bike, the pedals were independent so I could stop pedaling if I wanted to and he could keep going. We were able to work it out for the most part today, but it got me thinking about the experience as a metaphor for parenting.

photo by Rennes Le Chateau

It’s so important for parents to be in synch with each other when making parenting decisions. Kids are experts at sensing divisions between their parents. That’s not say that parents will necessarily be in complete agreement on every parenting decision. However, parents do need skills for communicating with each other and working through disagreements – even if, or in my opinion, especially if – the parents are not married. The ride is much smoother for everyone involved when the pedaling is synchronized.

In Raising Happiness, the great new parenting book by Christine Carter, she describes part of the first step to raising happy kids as paying attention to your co-parenting relationship. She advises that, “if you improve your parenting, you won’t necessarily improve your marriage. But if you improve your marriage, you will improve your parenting.”

In today’s busy families, parents may worry that they don’t have time to work on their relationship with each other because it will take away from their already limited time with their children. A recent New York Times article, however, highlighted how today’s parents spend far more time with their families than parents from previous generations. So your kids will most likely survive the time you may take to be away from them to focus on your own relationship. And they will most likely notice and be affected by a lack of synchronization in your co-parenting. I encourage you to find a way to make the time to synchronize!

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. June 10, 2010 10:43 am

    I love the metaphor. It really is a ride and we need to be working together to make the ride as smooth and enjoyable as possible.

  2. Rommy permalink
    June 13, 2010 9:14 am

    My husband and I agree that the best thing we could do for our children was to love each other. Happy parents lead to secure and happy children and being united in decisions regarding parenting is a big plus.

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