Do you remember your pre-marital counselling? I remember ours like it was yesterday. We sat there, blissfully in love, the Skittles-and-rainbows kind of love, pretending that we completely understood the other person and accepted all their quirks and flaws. Then we got married.

It wasn’t horrible, but it also wasn’t great. The first year of marriage was a huge adjustment, as two imperfect people learned how to coexist and communicate—how to not kill each other for leaving all the kitchen cupboard doors open or completely missing the idea of a laundry basket. But we pressed on. Then we thought, We’ve got this marriage stuff figured out—let’s add a little new life. What could go wrong?

I can hear your chuckles.

Nothing has made me fall in love with my husband, Daniel, more than watching him become an amazing, hands-on dad. But nothing has made me want to lovingly strangle Daniel more than watching him parent. We are two very different people, from two very different families, with two very different ways of thinking. He loves Star Wars and I love Runaway Bride. He hates medical shows because I always ruin them (I used to be a registered nurse) and I always space out while he is explaining some weird (usually useless) fact.

So, we have two very different ideas on parenting. In fact, it’s one of the things we fight about the most. He takes a stronger hand with discipline—a “Yes, Sir, No, Sir,” approach—whereas I add some extra listening or talking through the issues. He can throw a party on a whim with a stick and a rock, while I plan and organize. He is the breakfast-making, pump-you-upfor-the-day specialist, while I take care of most of the nighttime parenting.

Our parenting is always evolving. It’s loud and it’s messy. But we do it together.

I’ve read a lot about parenting and different parenting styles—there is so much information out there! I’ve learned to chew on the ideas and then, through the lens of the gospel, decide what to digest and what to spit back out. I’ve come to believe that there is no wrong parenting style. For families with two parents—and if you are parenting on your own, I salute the incredible job you’re doing—it’s important to parent together, as a team.

Research might show x, y and z—kids can be more resilient if we do this or can grow up to be more successful if we do that. But instead of focusing so much on rigidly sticking to a parenting style, try to learn your spouse’s style—their strengths and weaknesses—then discuss how you can balance each other to give the absolute best to your kids.

My guess is that when God brings two people together and gives them children to raise up in the way they should go, he gives them some complementary gifts and abilities, to help each of them be not just better parents, but better teammates and better Great Commission-doers.

You represent the body of Christ in your home. Your marriage demonstrates the body of Christ to your child. We are all created with equal value, with different gifts—combine your God-given abilities and function as the body of Christ right within your own home with your parenting.

Learn about each other. Talk to each other. Listen to each other’s frustrations and fears about parenting. Support one another in your weaknesses and celebrate your strengths. Have grace when your spouse fails (because they will) and focus on the goal of raising strong, humble, kind, Jesus-following people.

You are fearfully and wonderfully made, beautifully matched with your spouse and have been entrusted with children. None of that was by accident, so stress a little less about your parenting style and focus a little more on God’s work through you. Sometimes your parenting will work, sometimes it won’t. Sometimes you will fight with your significant other, sometimes you will jive. But the best thing you can do for your kids is to accept that every kid needs one parent who will build a death-defying bike ramp, and another who stands by with a first-aid kit at the ready.

I promise you—the best style of parenting is to parent together.

Captain Bhreagh Rowe is the community ministries officer, St. Albert Church and Community Centre in St. Albert, Alta.

Photo: kate_sept2004/E+ via Getty Images

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