Parenting as a Team
In parenting, as in other areas of life, it is normal to rely upon past experience to shape your future expectations. Most people enter marriage believing their parents' marriage and the child-rearing style by which they were raised is the right model to follow with their own kids. Many times this is true. The opposite situation is just as common, where you grew up with parents who had a bad marriage and an equally poor parenting style. Before you take on the job of parent, it's important to review your personal history and take stock of the emotional baggage you may be carrying (everyone has some) from your parents' successes and failures.
The second most important thing you can do, if you haven't done so already, is share what you come up with in a relaxed, intimate conversation with your partner. When both of you come to terms with your own personal stories, and then reveal them to each other, it will be easier to agree on where you wish to go together — as parents. The two of you should then make a commitment to read as many books on child development and discipline as you possibly can, take parenting classes (preferably together), and communicate clearly about all aspects of the game plan you will follow as parents.
Parenting is a task no one is ever prepared for or adequately trained in. Neither life nor parenting begins with a manual. When you accept that, you have the best chance at successfully learning how to be a good-enough parent. One pitfall many couples fall into is aiming for perfection as parents. Simply put, the goal of parental perfection is a fantasy. As such it can be self-indulgent, impossible, guilt inducing, and even destructive for both parents and children. So, when you begin to feel overwhelmed with the task of parenting, and unsure that you are doing it right, that's a good thing. Because uncertainty and inadequate training is where everyone begins this task.