• Erica Tatum-Sheade, LCSW

Building A Parenting House

We aren’t *just* parenting, we are building a house…

One of my fondest memories of growing up was doing the drive from my parents’ house in Michigan to visit my grandmother in Ohio. This was before the days of iPhones and satellite radio when most of those long family drives were spent reading books or looking out the window creating your own stories. The one thing I always marveled at, looking out the window at vast stretches of farmland, was the houses. Some of the houses had been standing for well over a hundred years. I always wondered about the families that lived there, the stories that were told, the lives that began and ended there. But I mostly wondered, in my younger mind, how they built them so strong to withstand the harsh Midwest winters, years of storms, and the ever-changing landscape.

When I became a parent, those old farmhouses took on new meaning for me. I realized why old houses had always held a special place in my heart. When purchasing a home in which to raise our children, my husband and I both emailed each other with the EXACT same thought, “What do you think about that second one we looked at? I just feel like it has good bones.” It wasn’t the biggest house in the neighborhood, or the most updated, but it was solid and had good bones. And that’s when I realized that parenting is like building a house: we want to build a structure with “good bones” that can withstand the storm and last for generations.

Building A Parenting House

When building our parenting house, we need three things:

1) A Foundation: Every stable structure starts with a strong foundation. As parents, we start building the foundation even before our children enter our lives. The foundation is where our values and expectations are formed, they are what guide us on our parenting journey and inform the choices we make.

Having a strong, stable foundation allows us to have a place to always get back to when we are struggling. Our foundation may (and probably will) be different from that of our partner, and it's our job to work together to establish a solid foundation that has room for both. If there are cracks in the foundation, our house will collapse when faced with challenges.