When Parenting Partners Don’t See Eye to Eye (With Melina Gac Levin)

We all bring different perspectives to parenting that are borne of our upbringing, culture, or religion. Sometimes, we find these perspectives clash over basic parenting issues like sleep, healthy eating, crying, behavior, to name a few. Janet’s guest this week is Melina Gac Levin, a mother, parenting educator, and founder of Pueblo (parentpueblo.com), an educational and consulting organization that focuses on providing evidence-based advice for helping couples weave their various perspectives together. Through self-reflection, collaboration, and sometimes compromise, there’s hope for all of us to find common ground.

Transcript of “When Parenting Partners Don’t See Eye to Eye (With Melina Gac Levin)”

Hi, this is Janet Lansbury. Welcome to Unruffled.

Today I’m welcoming Melina Gac Levin to the podcast to speak on a topic near and dear to many of us: How do we parent together when we see differently? When we have different views on topics like discipline, eating, manners?

Melina is the founder of Pueblo, parentpueblo.com, which is an educational and consulting organization born out of her experience as a mother and parent educator. She says, “As a Latina immigrant mother, raising two children with a white Jewish-Italian co-parent, Pueblo is the support I hope for when I’m looking for advice. A company that sees us, that understands the joy and challenges of raising multicultural children, and that provides advice that can weave our different perspectives together.” She believes that each of us has a unique culture and family history that is integral to who we are as parents, and that self-knowledge and reflection are keys to empowered parenting, whether we are a single parent or seeking common ground in partnership with another.

I’m looking forward to this conversation. Melina, thank you so much for wanting to be on the show, and welcome.

Melina Gac Levin: Thank you so much for having me. I’m such a big fan.

Janet Lansbury: Oh, thank you, that’s sweet of you to say.

I am so interested in your work, and it reminds me of a lot of the issues that I’ve tried to help parents with, but probably without the skill that you have. When we were sort of going back and forth about putting this together today, I brought up the idea that you help parents with differences in culture, like ethnic backgrounds, and oftentimes I’m trying to help parents who have just come from a different family culture. And you quite eloquently said, yes, there’s micro and there’s macro, and both of those come into play and make our lives harder as parents. Because we need to have teamwork, if we have the luxury of having another parent. We need to lean on each other and have it work and not have it be another issue besides dealing with our child.

Melina Gac Levin: Yeah.

Janet Lansbury: I love the work that you do. Can you tell us about it and tell us about how you got into it and what some of the common issues are that you help parents with?

Melina Gac Levin: Of course, yeah. And thank you so much for saying that. One of the things that I really loved about our exchange before this conversation was getting to this place of understanding how there’s many layers to culture. And so I talk about working with multicultural families and that looks very different for different families. You mentioned the ethnic background can be a part of it, it can be religious differences. And then, as you mentioned, it can also be these small things where it’s just this difference in family culture in the home that you were brought up in. And sometimes even people with similar ethnic backgrounds have these cultural differences from where they were raised and in these sort of more micro ways. But it does influence our perspective, right? Our culture is hard to see until it’s contrasted against something else.

And so when I’m working with families, that’s one of the things that I see often is a lot of assumptions being made by me, by families, by everybody, because we’re working with who we are and our own lenses. And so one of the primary things that I try to help families do is to become conscious of how our cultures are shaping how we even think about our children, how we think about ourselves, how we think about our roles. And that’s all happening in the context of our homes, which in the case of multicultural families, there’s multiple cultures interacting with each other. And then also in the culture of our greater homes. So our city, our environment, that’s also adding other understandings of how we should be as parents and how children should be. And all those things come together and we have to make sense of them if we’re going to work together to collaborate to raise a child.

And that’s really what Pueblo does, is that we take this premise that we have these multiple cultures that are in interaction with each other, and they can all be honored together. And that that’s going to look different for each family. And that we need to layer that in with some information about child development and what we know about how children develop and what they need.

Janet Lansbury: Yes. And the way you just explained it, it sounds like a lot, right? It sounds like, how do we even know? Do we see this coming? Let’s say that we’re partners with someone before we have children, do we notice then? I guess we do notice that we have different outlooks on things and we have different ideas of what even building a home together, just the two of us, should be. So are there signs there that we can notice that will help us to be able to partner together as parents better? Can you talk a little about that?

Melina Gac Levin: Yeah, absolutely. And it’s interesting because for me, my own family is multicultural. I myself am multicultural. I have a Chilean father and a Puerto Rican mother. I was raised primarily in the States. And then my family with my own children—I have a six-year-old and a three-year-old—is also multicultural. My husband has a very different background from me. And even though we knew that going into having kids, and we’d been together for about a decade when I had my first daughter, we had so many shared values that I don’t think we really realized how it was going to show up in parenting. I think we actually went into parenting feeling like we were very much on the same page. And it wasn’t until there was a baby in front of us that we had to make decisions about and that we both cared a lot about that suddenly we realized, Oh, actually there’s some differences here. We don’t see eye to eye on everything.

And that was one of the inspirations for this work, for myself, was experiencing this in my own home and realizing there are things I’m going to have to let go of a little bit. And then there’s things that are actually important to me to hold onto that are different for him. So actually for me, it caught me by surprise. Even though ethnically, religiously, and in many ways we’re very different, it still caught me by surprise. And I’d been working with parents at this point. So it’s funny to me to think of myself as being surprised by this, but I was.

Janet Lansbury: No, I honestly think that that is probably the model. I mean, I think that’s how it is for a lot of us. It makes so much sense because when we’re together as a couple, we’re so much about being together and sort of molding ourselves to that other person a little bit. While still holding our own, but we’re all about joining as two. And now here’s somebody else that we both have to take care of. And it totally makes sense that that’s where we go, Oh, wait a second.

Melina Gac Levin: Yeah. And it’s easy, for example, to agree, We both want to raise a good eater. That’s something that came up in a consultation recently. So it’s easy to agree on that when neither of us really knows what the other person means by that. I think for a lot of families who are coming into parenting, and we think we see eye to eye because we think my goal is this sort of more abstract thing. But once you get into the specifics, if for one person a good eater means more of an intuitive eater who eats when they feel hungry and what they would like, and if for another person it means a child who loves vegetables, that’s very different. That’s a very different definition, right?

Janet Lansbury: And for somebody else, it means that you clean off your whole plate.

Melina Gac Levin: Exactly. And so I think in many cases we come in thinking, Oh, we’re on the same page about this. And then the baby’s there and you’re like, Oh, wait a second.

Janet Lansbury: What they thought was normal “good eating” is not my normal.

Melina Gac Levin: Exactly. And that’s where that information about what we know about how children develop also then comes into play and can help us make sense of a situation.

Janet Lansbury: So when you work with families, can you talk a little about your process with them in terms of, let’s just bring up the eating example, or any one. I also want to hear about some of the common areas that parents tend to have issue with.

Melina Gac Levin: Eating is one of them. Sleep is another one. And that was actually one of the places where I entered into this work in my own personal life was through sleep. And that’s something that I think comes up early and then continues to come up, unfortunately, throughout your child’s life.

Janet Lansbury: And is one of the most stressful areas. So that makes sense too that it’s fraught with emotion.

Melina Gac Levin: Exactly. Everybody cares about sleep. So I work with families in a few different capacities. One of the ways is through these courses that you mentioned, some I have for taking before the baby arrives and then some after your baby arrives. And the before-baby courses are really important for starting these conversations before the stakes feel higher and everybody’s a little bit more elevated, you’re more sleep-deprived, you’re having to learn a lot of things. And so everyone’s in a more heightened emotional state. But if you’re doing this leading up to the baby arriving, there’s a little bit more space to step back and there’s a little bit less urgency, I find. So I really recommend families start with those courses.

And then another way that I work with families is through individual consultations. These are usually Zoom calls where we talk through a specific question that’s coming up for parents, a specific tension. And sometimes that’s once and sometimes that’s once a month in a longer-term capacity as we work through what it means to collaborate and what it means to raise a child together in a way that honors both cultures and both parents.

And then practically, what that might look like, to go back to this idea of sleep. So for example, in our case, I brought my baby home and we had her crib set up in our room because the AAP says have the crib but have it in your room. So we did that and I felt very confident that my baby was going to sleep in her bed, we were going to sleep in our bed. And then she didn’t like her bed and all of a sudden we were thrown into this place of, What do we do? My sense in that moment was overwhelmingly that I needed to support her and to nurture her and to be there for her. And if she cried, I was going to go to her. My husband’s sense was much more that she needed to learn independence.

And that in my family, and in many other families that I work with, is a real point of tension, this sense of, how do children achieve independence? Is that a value that we hold or not? It’s important to some people and it’s less important to others. It’s rarely at the forefront of my mind. It’s often at the forefront of my husband’s mind. And so the way that that manifested in sleep was his really strong desire that she should sleep in her own space and be able to put herself to sleep. And my sense that this didn’t really matter to me and I’d rather be there for her if she was upset and I would be the one to help her as opposed to her needing to help herself.

We really couldn’t figure out what to do at that point. And of course, because the baby was there, we were super sleep-deprived and I did what I tell all parents not to do, which is I did the 3am Googling and the 3am rabbit holes of, This is going to be terrible. This is going to be perfect. This is the solution. And eventually we found a book that claimed to be scientific and evidence-based. And that appeals to both of us, that’s a shared value that we have is this desire for a scientific understanding of things. So we basically outsourced our decision to that book and we’re like, This is what we’re going to do because it’s close enough to what he wants to do and it’s close enough to what I want to do that we can kind of try. It didn’t work. So then we were back at square one where we had to come together and have this discussion with each other.

One of the things that was interesting in our case is that we also had the example of my sister-in-law who had recently had a baby also. And she’s married to an Indian-American man, and they were co-sleeping, which is something that neither of us really had considered. I remember looking at them and thinking, Well, it seems to really be working for them. So my husband and I came back together and were talking about it, and it seemed eventually the place where we realized that we had a lot of commonality was this desire for all of us to get the most sleep possible. Suddenly that really rose to the surface. A sort of shared common ground was we both just want to sleep as much as we can and this baby needs to sleep as much as the baby can.

And we brought in this layer of understanding about independence and how children become independent and that they’re not necessarily born independent. So I think the fear that my husband had that if she was going to be in our bed, she would be in our bed forever fell away. And then at the same time, it addressed my own real concerns at that point, which was something that is not cultural but got layered in, which was that I was about to return to work and I was breastfeeding and really needed my supply up.

So all of these factors layered in together drove us to try co-sleeping. And we ended up co-sleeping with my first child until she was about three and then stopped, and it’s been a whole journey. But it’s not at all the solution that I would’ve assumed we would come to, and it’s not actually a cultural practice that either one of us has. But it was the thing that we landed on that felt like it allowed us to have both my desire for her to be really cared for, and especially with the nursing and also with being able to be right next to her, and it also still allowed for him to have that sense of, well, she will get towards independence. And we had an understanding, even when we began co-sleeping, that this wasn’t a forever thing.

Janet Lansbury: Right. So you’re saying bed-sharing?

Melina Gac Levin: Yes. So we began bed-sharing with her and it ended up working really well for us. We actually bed-shared with my second from the beginning.

One of the things that I think is interesting about this is that for some folks, the practice that they land on is something that is based in their own culture. Something that they grew up with or something that they bring from their own family. And for some of us it ends up being something totally different, but that honors the underlying values and concerns that we have.

And that’s where a lot of the work that I do with families is. I don’t think co-sleeping is for everybody. And I don’t think sleep training is for everybody, and I don’t think it’s for no one. I think for some families that’s the exact right solution and for some babies. But families have to get to that place through dialogue and collaboration and understanding both what their babies need and what their own desires and goals and values are.

Janet Lansbury: So it was this experience, though, that you say on your website was what inspired you to do the work that you’re doing now with parents. And can you talk a little about the process? One of the things I’m thinking is how hard it is as parents not to shame and blame the other parent or be shocked. What do you mean? Why would you think a baby could be independent? Or, No, we don’t want to bed-share! So is what you teach in the before class and in your consultations that you do, is it more about general relationship, talking to each other, conflict-resolution type stuff, or is it different than that?

Melina Gac Levin: There’s a layered approach. There’s the information piece, so both the before-baby classes and then the year one classes, there’s information that’s provided about how children develop. And that information is heavily researched, it’s vetted by some folks that I work with, a pediatrician, a neuropsychologist, some educators, and it’s based on scientific research and my own academic research and looking at ethnographies and what we know about how children develop in the first year. Because I do think that having that baseline understanding is important. If you know that a 10-month-old has no impulse control, then that’s really important to know even if your goal is for them to eventually not hit. So it’s important to have that understanding of what is actually happening for an infant and what are they capable of and what is beyond them at this point and how do they get there?

Janet Lansbury: A hundred percent, yeah.

Melina Gac Levin: And a lot of it is skill-building. So all of the classes have really strong frameworks around how to communicate and how to approach some of the questions that we explore. In part because the goal is for families to start really listening to understand each other. That I think is the hardest thing for many of us to do, is to try to listen to a partner. Especially when we have really, really strong feelings about our child and about how we want them to be in the world and who we want them to be and what kind of world we create for them. It’s very loaded for all of us because we care. And so it becomes really hard to listen to someone who seems to want something different from us in that moment, sometimes something very different, and to try to listen to understand what’s underneath that. Is there a fear underneath that? Is there a desire that we can relate to? Because once we can really understand the other person, and if they can really understand us, then we’re able to start seeing, Okay, there’s actually things that we both want here. There’s actually some overlap. And that’s what I try to build on.

Janet Lansbury: Exactly. And also, that fear is understandable. Just the way children’s fears, they might at first seem irrational, but then, Oh, that’s understandable. No wonder you are worried about this, or no wonder you are reacting that way. Because that’s really touching something off in you that’s scary about this person that we love more than life itself, right? This child.

Melina Gac Levin: Yeah.

Janet Lansbury: So the fears make sense, I think. What I notice in the parents that I work with is that it does get maybe even harder after the infant stage when, in terms of the way that we discipline, for lack of a better word, and feelings and the way that we respond to those things can be a difficult place for parents to come together. And I often work with parents who struggle with this. Are those other big areas that you’ve noticed?

Melina Gac Levin: Yes.

Janet Lansbury: So it’s food, for sure, food, sleep, and then feelings, discipline strategies, behavior. Because there’s a lot of fear around that, right? A lot of fear around, My child is going to be a terrible person, or My child is going to be somebody that can’t handle their feelings and they’re just going to sink into deep, deep depression.

Melina Gac Levin: Absolutely. And once kids hit that toddler stage, I notice a lot of zooming out and projecting into the future. So we see toddlers doing things that are very appropriate for a two-year-old or a three-year-old or a four-year-old. But I think for many of us, myself included, it’s hard not to project and think, Oh my gosh, but what if they’re 10 and speaking to me that way?

Janet Lansbury: I better put a stop to this now!

Melina Gac Levin: Exactly.

Janet Lansbury: And also I think that’s because that’s when a lot of people start to see there’s a person there, they really connect with that. Oh, this person is talking to me. The baby was a different thing, people sometimes see it as. I don’t.

Melina Gac Levin: Neither do I.

Janet Lansbury: I mean, I did before I learned all about this. I did. I think that’s the cultural view for a lot of us, is that they’re this adorable, less-than-people thing. But then when they start talking and walking and they’re in our face, yes, it’s really hard to remember. And a lot of my work is about that perspective on how tiny they are. And they seem so huge to us. Even in my classes, because I sit on the floor observing the children a lot of the time, and the toddlers especially, they seem so gigantic. And then after class I’ll be out on the street going to my car and I’ll see the parent walking with that child and I’ll think, No, that can’t be that same child that I saw in my class. That was such a big dynamic character to me. This is just a little tiny person.

But yeah, it’s very easy to project into that stage and project into the future, like you said.

Melina Gac Levin: Definitely, definitely. And I do think it’s funny, children do have that quality of being giants and infants at the same time. You look at your sleeping toddler and you can see the newborn and then all of a sudden they wake up and you see this huge being in front of you. They sort of shapeshift, almost. I used to think of it that way when I would see that with my children. I was like, But you were just a baby and now I can’t not see the teenager in you.

Janet Lansbury: Exactly.

Melina Gac Levin: And it’s very hard to navigate that and to hold that perspective. So I am working on building out some toddler classes, but I wanted to start with before baby and with that first year in part because I do feel like it’s a time where these skills can be practiced. And it feels a little easier for many parents to practice and build these skills of how to collaborate and how to compromise, which is really what a lot of this is, before you do get to that place where you’re thinking about discipline. And so it’s almost like it’s a muscle that you’re building because by the time you get to those conversations, there’s more heat to them. We really care how our children turn out. And that’s a good thing, and it’s a hard thing.

Janet Lansbury: Yes, the stakes are very, very high.

I have a question from a parent that seemed to serendipitously come to me as I was getting ready to speak with you. So I thought, hmm maybe she would like to speak to this question. Would you mind?

Melina Gac Levin: Great, absolutely.

Janet Lansbury: Okay:

Hi, Janet-

I am currently separating from the father of my four-year-old. We are from different countries and have no common language with our son. I speak my mother tongue and his father does the same. English is reserved for the parents, so our son understands a bit but doesn’t speak it.

We also do not have common parenting approaches, as the father uses shaming as a discipline technique. Whenever my son has a different view, a complaint, or doesn’t want to comply, I can hear the father shaming him, asking him how old he is, if he is a baby, and sometimes even asking him if he is normal. The father has enormous difficulty dealing with our son’s cries or whines and will almost always order him to shut up and stop screaming. They are cries, not screams, but he feels them as screams and reacts very negatively. I can see how my son is hurt by these comments, and I also feel devastated by it. My son will redirect his rage mostly towards me, and I try to contain it. He will hit, bite, and tell me that I don’t know anything or that I’m a baby.

That’s okay. I’m learning to handle it more and more and your advice has been plenty helpful. But I want to help my child to cope with these shaming strategies that are not in my power to change. Now that he will be living in different households and share custody, I feel it is crucial that I support his loving bond with his father, but also build the trust inside him to foster his self-confidence without undermining his father.

I write to you to kindly ask your help for me to better navigate this.

Melina Gac Levin: What a beautiful question. There’s so much there.

My first thought and my first reaction to hearing this question is how incredible this mother is for being able to hold all those perspectives at once. You can hear her understanding how this feels for her child. She mentions how hard it is for him to feel shamed. And she holds on to how devastating it is for her to see this play out. And she also has this understanding of the father’s perspective too, right? The child isn’t screaming, but “he feels it as screams” are the words that she uses. So there’s this ability to hold these three perspectives, these three realities at once, that I think is really, really powerful.

My sense in terms of ways to support her child, and I think she mentioned he’s four right now.

Janet Lansbury: Yes.

Melina Gac Levin: So this is a really little guy, but if we think about it sort of over the long term, helping her child develop that ability, that reflective functioning of being able to understand the different perspectives in the room. So that he can both honor his own truth while knowing, Okay, my father’s having this different experience, without internalizing that being about himself. So it’s this ability to sort of hold onto the, Okay, he’s having a hard time with something. That doesn’t mean that I’m a bad child or that I am a baby.

And the power that this mother really has is in being able to model that understanding that she carries. I mean, she’s modeling it right now, even in asking this question. This understanding of the separateness of those experiences, even if they impact each other. Of course, his dad saying something is going to impact this little person, but being able to know, Okay, his reality is not the only reality, I think is really protective, especially over the long term.

I also noticed something in this question that is very common, which is she mentions the child saying a lot of those things back at her. So the father calls the child a baby and then the child calls the mother a baby. And I think that’s actually very common. We see that with a lot of children as they’re trying to make sense of something in their world, they’ll throw it out at their safe people.

Janet Lansbury: Exactly.

Melina Gac Levin: To try to make sense of it, to try to understand it. And I think holding onto that understanding that, Okay, he’s trying to make sense of this. This is something that was said to him. Then I would encourage this parent to consider, what is the voice she would want her son to be saying in his head when those things get said to him? Because if he calls her a baby and she says to her child something like, “That’s terrible,” or “Don’t say that,” then that gives that child the information that that’s a bad thing to say or that’s a horrible thing to say, and maybe it just amplifies the shame. As opposed to saying, and this will depend on what feels right to this parent, but I’m imagining myself saying something like, “I know I’m not a baby.” What is it that we want him to know about this situation? “I see that you’re very upset, but I know I’m not a baby.”

Janet Lansbury: I love that you noticed all the empathy that she has here, for all those perspectives and for the way that her child needs to offload the phrases and the words and to understand that too. And yes, I think you’re absolutely right too about helping him with the voice and what that means. And if we just say, “Oh, that’s terrible. Daddy shouldn’t do that,” that doesn’t help our child, who still feels, Daddy is a god to me. So besides shaming, it’s very confusing. And they also identify with both their parents. So, This is my dad. That means if my dad’s terrible, then I’m terrible too. Children can’t separate that out.

That’s why I love what you were getting at, which is to help their child understand where that kind of reaction comes from. So whether this husband was in her life still and they were going to be parenting together, or whether it’s going to be separate as it sounds like it is now, I would say to her son: “Sometimes daddy says those things to you.” Maybe even when he’s saying it to her, “You’re a baby!”: “Daddy says that sometimes. It’s really hard for Daddy to hear you cry. That’s just something that’s hard for him. It’s not hard for me, and it’s a normal thing to do. Everybody cries. But it’s so hard for him because maybe when he was a little boy, he wasn’t allowed to cry like that, and so when you cry, it feels like you’re screaming right at him. So that’s why he says those things.” I mean, maybe simpler than that with a four-year-old, but you can speak to that a little.

I used to do that with my kids, even when they had friends that were unkind or something. I would say, “What do you think makes them want to be unkind? What do you think makes them want to say that? It’s because they don’t feel good inside right then. They’re not coming from a happy place inside them.” And just giving them that basic information so that they can start to have the perspective. And then it’s still going to be hurtful for their son, but at least he can separate it out as a vulnerability in his dad instead of a fact about himself or something his dad actually believes about him. That’s another thing she could say is that, “I know that your dad doesn’t believe that about you. He thinks you’re amazing.” And not that she has to build him up, but just people say things they don’t mean when they’re really uncomfortable. And kids can kind of relate to that because they do it too.

Melina Gac Levin: Of course, yeah.

Janet Lansbury: And then they know, Yeah, oh yeah, I do that too. Then in a way that helps take them off the hook as well. Not that they should get away with that per se, but I mean it helps them to understand that we understand why you’re saying that to me.

Melina Gac Levin: Well, it normalizes a very human experience. And often we think of gentle parenting or these sort of more mindful approaches to raising children as about raising children who are more compliant in some way or easier in some way or able to self-regulate more easily. These are all things that I’ve certainly encountered from families that I’ve worked with. And the reality is that everyone still gets upset sometimes and that it’s not about compliance. So I think really normalizing these experiences goes a long way for children, and these emotions.

Janet Lansbury: Yeah, and you could even say, “Just like when you want to lash out at me when you’re not feeling good, sometimes even adults do that.”

Melina Gac Levin: One thing that I want to point out is that it’s really incredible to be able to offer him that insight into why these things happen. And that at the same time, it’s important to acknowledge his experience, the child’s experience, as equally valid in those moments so that it doesn’t become about fixing his father.

Janet Lansbury: Exactly. Yeah, thank you for the balance on that.

Melina Gac Levin: And that’s what I think this mother is doing so wonderfully in this email, at least, is talking about the validity of all of these experiences. Yes, he has a hard time. And it’s not okay for him to say that to you and it hurts when he says that.

Janet Lansbury: Exactly. Not just, You should feel fine about this because here’s why. I mean, it’s a normal tendency to have and that’s another way of invalidating, right?

Melina Gac Levin: Exactly.

Janet Lansbury: Well, don’t feel like that because look at him. He’s got it worse. If we’re always hearing that, right? How can you be down? Look over there. Yeah, so you’re absolutely right. I’m so glad you brought that up.

Melina Gac Levin: And that’ll look different at four than it does as this child continues growing, but the root of that can start now.

Janet Lansbury: Yes. These things that we might say, I would have it come from that place—and this is a hard thing that I struggle to express because it’s very easy to demonstrate in person when it’s happening in a class or in a home consultation. It’s that even when you’re acknowledging feelings, it’s not something that we’re doing from this other place. It’s going to work best and feel best and be most helpful if we’re doing it from that place of, You’re hurt, I feel you’re hurt, and here’s some things I want you to know about it. But not, Here’s some reasons you shouldn’t feel hurt. I’m doing it from that place of connecting with your hurt or your anger or whatever you’re feeling. So it comes from that. It doesn’t help to say, Oh, I understand you’re upset that we didn’t do this thing. It’s like, Ahh, yeah, you’re upset that we didn’t get to do it. It’s got to come from that connected place, or it’s not going to feel connecting to our child. It’s not going to feel like they’re really being seen, and it just feels like we’re trying to explain it away or something.

Melina Gac Levin: There has to be authenticity.

Janet Lansbury: Yes. And that our overall feeling is, I’m not trying to change what you’re feeling. I’m just sharing from that place of accepting what you’re feeling. So I guess that’s the difference. But yeah, it’s an easy one to misinterpret.

I also always want to tell these parents too, that a child having one person like this, with this parent’s incredible generous spirit and incredible empathy and insight, that is such a gift. And it’s okay if everybody’s not at the same level and it’s okay if the other parent has a different journey.

And another thing I’ve noticed is that, and I’m sure you notice this too, but when I work with parents beyond just a note like this, but I’m really working with them in a class or I’m in a consultation with them or I know them in person, you see how they are kind of balancing each other out in some way. You see how they’re complementing each other. Even when they’re in their rough patches, they’re helping the other parent see, Well, maybe you’re not noticing this part. I see that so much, that parents, they’re actually bringing something helpful to the situation no matter what. A helpful perspective. And the answer is kind of like how you found with sleep: it’s somewhere in between. It’s not this one’s or that one’s exactly, oftentimes.

Melina Gac Levin: Yeah, and I think that you’re right. I think that most of the times when I’m working with families, and really all of the time, both parents are bringing lots of strengths to the table. And it’s really helpful to start from that place of strengths, understanding what we’re contributing and what we can learn from each other, even if those things aren’t necessarily something that we might do ourselves. I think that there’s something important about having an approach where we’re communicating and collaborating, but I don’t think that that means that every parent in a family has to be parenting the same way all the time.

Janet Lansbury: Yeah, you said that better than I did, but yes, that is true. Because oftentimes people will come to me and say, Well, I’m doing all this hard work and I understand this, and this other parent is kind of undermining the whole thing, or they’re not doing it. But then once we get beyond the surface and we start to hear from that other parent, we find, Oh, wait, but they’re seeing some things that you might not be seeing. It never ceases to amaze me how, I don’t know, there’s a destiny for these parents that they’re finding together.

Melina Gac Levin: For sure. And the thing that gives me the most hope and that I find the most sort of joy in working with multicultural families is that if we can find those places where we really see each other and we see our differences and we see them as not just negatives but as strengths, and if we can work together across difference to care for someone, that’s incredible. If we can raise a generation of children who can work together across difference because that’s what’s been modeled in their homes. And to care for each other through collaboration and compromise, even when they don’t see eye to eye with another person. I can’t imagine a more important goal.

Janet Lansbury: Well, you’re doing this work, so…

Melina Gac Levin: I mean, that’s what drives me, is this vision.

Janet Lansbury: I love that.

Melina Gac Levin: Thank you.

Janet Lansbury: Well, everybody, please check out Melina’s work at parentpueblo.com. And all the amazing workshops that she has, the depth that she brings to this work, it’s quite impressive. And thank you. Thank you so much for sharing with us today.

Melina Gac Levin: My pleasure. It’s such a joy to connect with you.

Janet Lansbury: Likewise. Alright, bye.

Melina Gac Levin: Bye! I don’t how you end, I just realized.

Janet Lansbury: I don’t either. Awkwardly!

Please check out some of the other podcasts on my website, janetlansbury.com. They’re all indexed by subject and category, so you should be able to find whatever topic you might be interested in. And my books, No Bad Kids: Toddler Discipline Without Shame, and Elevating Child Care: A Guide to Respectful Parenting, you can get them in paperback at Amazon and in ebook at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and apple.com.

Thanks so much for listening. We can do this.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

More From Janet

Books & Recommendations