Marriage Mondays: Figuring out What Type of Parent You'll Be

Before we got married, we had the whole "Do you want children someday?" discussion. And for both of us the answer was yes. The conversation we never had (and which I think is fair to say most of my married friends also didn't have before marriage) is what kind of a parent do you want to be? Having pets inadvertently lets us answer that question, specifically our dog, Radar.

As cute as our dog is (see link above), Radar has some bad habits, including peeing (and occasionally pooping) in the house, eating the cat's food (and her poop on occasion), and the guinea pig's poop that's always flying out of his cage when he bucks. I know. I can't believe we let him sleep in our bed either. A lot of this has to do with the first half of his life and his old owners, who, because he is a tiny, little dog, never really trained him (or walked him). A.P. was around for these years and was pretty much the one who always walked him when he visited and then later lived with Radar.

When we took Radar in, we tried to change as much of that bad behavior as possible, but there are some things we can't change at all. Like the peeing in the house. A.P. can walk that dog at 10:50pm and an hour later, he'll still pee in the house (at least now, though, he pees on a pee pad).

But dealing with these problems has made us realize how we might deal with our children one day. And let me tell you that this is how that shit will work out: I will be the disciplinarian and A.P. will be the one who consoles and comforts (and probably is their BFF behind my back). In other words, I'm the bad cop, he's the good cop. And here's how we know: every time Radar does something bad, I reprimand him and then two minutes later A.P. scoops him up and fawns all over him. I get so mad because it basically undoes all my reprimanding and gets us nowhere. And don't think all I do is yell at the dog, because I love that dog sooo much, but I'm just a big believer in discipline/training. My cat, Zuzu, is a bit bad now because this apartment is bigger than my old one and it's harder to catch her doing bad things. But in my old apartment, she was never the type of cat to jump on the kitchen counters or tables or bookshelves, because I trained her not to do those things. Even now, she's pretty good about staying off the those things.

The thing is, I don't mind this sort of thing with a dog, but I worry about it with kids later on down the line. I guess I don't want to be the bitch who the kids hate because I'm always the one disciplining them. I worry that we'll become Claire and Phil Dunphy on Modern Family and A.P. will always be "peerenting" while I'm the one grounding children and forcing them to do chores. Because as much as I do want to make sure my kids are disciplined and respectful, I also want to have fun with them. I know I'll do that, too, but if I'm always the one enforcing the rules, I worry that I won't be the "fun" parent. I'll be avoided like the plague when it comes to asking for things. But most of all, I'll be the one who gets yelled at when the child is a teenager. I'll be the mean one who never gives the kid their way. Dammit. I guess all I can hope for is that I do enough fun stuff to even it out.

What kind of parent do you think you'll be? Have you and your significant other figured out the roles you'll play with kids later on down the line (or now if you have kids already)?

Check back later for some more Marriage Monday, but in the mean time, enjoy some Modern Family:

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(Modern Family clip via Hulu)


  1. Um, yes. Exactly. But, one upside of being the disciplinarian is that you're the one who gets obeyed! Asta will heal and walk perfectly with me but is ALL over the place when walking with the hubster.

    I console myself by thinking that kids need structure and, while they may not like it in the short term, maybe they'll come to like it in the long-term?

  2. josh and i had this discussion during the bathroom-cleaning episode. im more structure-oriented, so it would be really easy for us to fall into those two roles.

  3. Dude and I didn't discuss parenthood before we got married, largely because what we DID discuss was the fact that we didn't actually WANT kids. Over the past year or so, as we've come around to the idea of parenthood, we have had a lot of discussions about what kind of parents we'd like to be, and the results have been interesting, but not particularly surprising.

    Dude is a very cautious fellow who is much more traditional than he'd like to admit, and more and more, we're both realizing that he will be the one who handles moral development, imparting important life lessons and discipline. He very specifically wants to be the one to teach our child about cars, which is hilarious because in reality, I know far more about cars than he does, but hey, he can have it.

    I, on the other hand, look forward to handling educational and emotional development, and will be a constant cheerleader for our children, encouraging them to do all the things their father's cautious nature might make difficult. I also very specifically want to be the one to teach them about sex, which is 100% OK with Dude.

  4. @accidentallyyours: I do like being obeyed!! Have I told you that my sister's dog is named Asta too? And for the same reason as you (The Thin Man)! And I agree about kids needing structure. It's so, so true!

    @liz: It's so easy to fall into these roles, and I really believe that women tend to be the disciplinarians these days!

    @AlottaLettuce: I think our child will learn to be quiet from A.P. and ponder things. Because my genes are definitely talkative. And I'm not so sure either of us wants to give the sex talk, though I'm probably more likely to scare the living life out of the child and put the fear of not getting pregnant/not getting a girl pregnant into him or her. I like your division of parenting, though. It's super sweet and another reason I know you'll be awesome parents one day. : )


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