Perhaps one of the most difficult situations you can find yourself in while applying Montessori principles is when your partner is not embracing the approach as much as you are. This can be a stressful and oftentimes emotionally draining experience. Since applying Montessori in your home affects everything from the furniture and decor of the home to the toys available for the child, not being on the same page can result in conflicts from even before the child is born.
I found myself in this situation very early on with my partner. Every parent wants the best for their child and I felt that following the Montessori Method was the best thing for him. Committing yourself to this approach takes a lot of work and without a supportive partner, you may often feel alone and like you’re a one-person show. Here are a few examples of how I approached the situation in the hopes that it may help you down the line.
No crib?! Are you joking me?!
This is probably one of the earliest and most brutal disagreements you’ll have with someone who doesn’t care for applying Montessori principles at home. Deciding to have just a mattress on the floor instead of a crib is completely foreign to most parents. The crib is typically a staple in every nursery and diverting from that is blasphemy to many parents. Your partner will likely notice very early that is definitely not the ‘traditional’ way of raising a child.
Additionally, depending on the child, a floor bed may require the biggest sacrifice on behalf of the parents because the child has so much more independence and freedom. But ironically enough, independence and freedom are primary tenants of the Montessori approach. For my partner, even the visual of a mattress on the floor was appalling. We agreeing on and purchasing this floor-bed from Etsy to set as the centerpiece of the nursery and started to design around it. This leads me to my first piece of advice when dealing with a partner who isn’t completely sold on Montessori.
Make acceptable modifications to some principles
I took a very ‘by-the-book’ approach to applying Montessori. I tried to follow every principle and activity exactly as proposed included glassware and even cloth diapers. I had to shift to more of a ‘spirt of Montessori’ approach in order to satisfy my partner’s concerns. We agreed that the value of having the child drink directly from a cup was more important than the cup be glass. He broke many glasses early on and clean up was long and arduous because of all the tiny shards of glass.
Attempting cloth diapers was also a full-time job on it’s own and when your partner is hesitant to help, it becomes unmanageable for one person. This also become a concession early on. Giving up a little on some parts of the Montessori approach will help you make the case for standing up for the non-negotiables.
Take responsibility for the hard parts
Since you’re the person most advocating for applying a Montessori education for your child, you’ll likely need to do the dirty work as well. When the child is feeding himself, when spills occur and food ends up all over anything within a 10 foot radius, being the one responsible for cleaning it up shows your dedication and commitment to the approach. Make sure you let your partner know that you’ll be taking responsibility for these less rewarding parts of the process. This will also trigger their thought process to see your commitment level and feel the need to help.
Simplify the process and preparation
Setting up a prepared environment takes a lot of time and work. Even presentation of an activity, completing the activity and ending the activity can take a lot of work. Simplifying this as much as possible will make it possible for your reluctant partner to take the guess work out of it. I created several Montessori activity cheat-sheets with a long list of activities with an example of how to do it. I laminated this and put it near our son’s play area. If we ever found ourselves looking for an activity to do, we would reference this sheet and have preset steps already prepared.
When your partner does not agree with or wants to participate in the effort required to raise a Montessori child, you’ll likely have to do double the work that could’ve been shared with a willing partner. But remember to persevere knowing that you’re laying the foundation to a lifelong love of learning for your child.