Reconciling parenting styles btwn you and your spouse

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Kayla1981's picture
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Reconciling parenting styles btwn you and your spouse

My husband is from a small town with old school parents. His step dad was not always nice about how he went about things but Jason did grow up to be a very responsible and loving person.

I grew up with parents who were probably pretty traditional in their parenting style for their time. I did get spanked occasionally but they were also very attentive and loving parents. I feel like I'm a healthy person emotionally and whatever they did worked.

So now the two of us come together and need to parent as a unit. We agree on what we want the outcome to be but not necessarily on our expectations or techniques of dealing with Jordan (and soon enough, her sister). I feel like I'm becoming more of an attachment parenting type, which is very different than what Jason is used to. I'll admit, I know some parents that are of a similar mind and their kids are WILD. I know that is probably part of what Jason worries about. I also know that the attachment parents can turn people off with their "hugs and kisses" approach. Now, I know for a fact that there is a lot more to it than that, but that is what people tend to think when they are not familiar with the approach. I mean NO OFFENSE by that, I promise. I just know that is probably how Jason sees it.

Today I needed his help because Jordan was all over the place and I was trying to change her diaper. He thought that meant coming in and basically holding her down while I changed her. She was getting furious and I could see it was just making it worse. So I told him let's try a different approach and I had Jordan stand up, I recognized her frustration and gave her a hug. She calmed down immediately and let me change her diaper. Maybe him seeing that sort of result will help us?

I know we've talked about this before but I see it becoming more and more important as Jordan gets older.

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Kayla, we definitely have some of the same going on in our house. Down to the fact that we want the same results, but have different approaches to getting to them.

Recently, many people have been saying to me that "the only way" to deal with certain behaviors at this age is to use a "naughty corner" or "naughty step"- but something about it isn't sitting right with me. I don't have a come-back for the people who are saying this, because I don't know what I want to do instead, but, I just know that particular method isn't appealing to me.

I do a lot of reading, I am a reader, as I find it helps me to process what is going on inside myself. I'm not always 100% sure of what I feel is right, except for a gut/heart feeling that something is or isn't right. So I find it helps me a lot to read different books on the subject and then see how I feel about them- if ideas jump out at me as being useful, or if I find myself shaking my head at the book. I don't take any part of any book as gospel, even from authors I generally highly respect. If it doesn't work for me, it doesn't work for me.

As you know, I lean toward AP practices as well, and therefore the one book that I still really want to read, and just haven't gotten around to is The Discipline Book, which has been on m shelf for months.

That said, I just picked up another book (it's a British author/publisher, so not sure what the availability would be in the States) called How NOT to F*** Them Up. Hilarious title. But that was the point where I was at when I saw the title...I felt like, "Well, I'm not going to be perfect, but if I can at least not F*** them up, that would be good." The book is aimed at parents of under-threes, and rather than advise specific parenting practices, it addresses that parents need to use methods and practices that work for them/keep them sane, and which meet the child's basic needs. This author says the way we end up f***ing our kids up is by following parenting practices that don't actually feel right to us, and lead to our own instability/depression/internal anger or frustration. He classifies mothers (defined as main care-taker of child, so it can be the mother or father) in three groups- Organizers, Huggers and Fleximoms. Organizers tend to be the baby trainers, people who believe life should carry on/return to normal after the baby, and that baby needs to learn asap how to adapt to the world. Huggers tend to lean toward AP- people who believe that a baby changes everything, and that they should meet the babies needs/adapt to the baby's world, rather than making the baby adapt to them. The Fleximom, is down the middle, using practices from both ends of the spectrum.

Reading this book (I'm not actually done with it) has been helpful because it has helped me to see that even though children under three pretty much all have the same needs, there is more than one way to meet them successfully. It also addresses to some extent what to do/problems you can run into when one parent is a Hugger and the other is an Organizer, etc. I was actually just reading that part yesterday, and thinking about how Joel and I fit into our roles. While I am definitely a Hugger, I think he is more of a Fleximom, not necessarily an Organizer (though I think he might have been more Organizer when Beni was first born, but I've dragged him over to where he is now Smile ).

Anyway... I don't have any answers for you- but I can just say that I can relate, and that I feel like this is something he and I need to find the time to talk through more. I know Melissa once said that she and her husband worked through The Discipline Book together, which sounds like a fabulous idea- we just need to do it!

Also, I think things have changed for us just as Beni has gotten older. We both used to be very certain that we wanted to instill a bedtime routine that was short and effective. As it stands now, I think we both recognize that while that would be lovely, Beni's needs are for someone to be with her as she falls asleep, and the bedtime routine take a bit longer because of that. So I guess there are some things that he and are now aligned on, in completely different ways than we used to be, which is good as well.

It is certainly a work in progress, and I can only imagine that as kids gets older and face new behaviors and situations, there will always be something else to work through as parents.

I was going to add too, I know it definitely makes a difference for me to see people with grown (successful, intelligent, caring) kids tell me that they did things the same way I am choosing to do them. Of course, it's no guarantee my kid will turn out as well, but, it does make me feel a bit more support in the situation- especially when many of the choices we make are not traditional "western" parenting choices. And again- this comes back to knowing that there are other parents out there are like me, and their kids survived (and even excelled because of) their parenting. It doesn't mean it's the only or the right way to go...but it means it is a valid choice. I do think, like you said, that if Jason sees some of your tactics working, he will be more likely to come around to them.

(Um, sorry this is the longest post ever!)

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Mara, I knew you could chime in on this! I'm pretty sure you brought this up the last time. Or at least had a lot to say about it and I remember relating so well to what you said. The same is true this time. So much of what you said resonates with me.

I totally agree about not always having the answer, but knowing I disagree with a certain tactic. Like how to address Jordan kicking me during diaper changes. Jason gets so frustrated and feels like at some point, spanking her is the only answer. Now, I've been successful in keeping him from doing this but I know he just feels like he doesn't know what else to do. I keep saying, I don't know what to do to fix the problem, but I know what doesn't work (time-out, spanking). So, I've continued to do what feels right. Every time she does it I look her straight in the eye and explain to her that kicking hurts and she needs to be gentle. I move so that she can't kick me because many times she continues to try. I also realize that this really has so much to do with her age and I will not have this problem down the road. Or let's hope I don't!

I've just ordered three books to read. NutureShock: New Thinking About Parenting, Tears and Tantrums: What to Do When Babies and Children Cry, and Unconditional Parenting: Moving from Rewards and Punishment to Love and Reason. I'm hoping, like you said, they will help me sort of process and clarify my thoughts. I certainly believe there is no one size fits all to parenting. There are too many variables to assume that there is only one answer. I'm certainly open to suggestions and ideas but just like Jordan's sleeping troubles, I knew what felt right for us. I was told many, many, times that we were doing it wrong. No one was in our shoes and no one knew Jordan like we did. In the end, I firmly believe we did things the best we could. Not that we handled it perfectly, but most of the time, I did what my gut was telling me to do.

It's interesting what you said about the Huggers and Feximoms. I think Jason and I fall into the same categories as well, at least from your brief description. I find that I'm more relaxed in what I will allow Jordan to do and Jason feel more of a need to control things. I think part of it has to do with the fact that I spend a lot more time with her and you really do learn that you cannot control it all and trying will just drive everyone mad. I was talking to Jason today about all of this and said that as parents, I think it's easy for us to see things from our perspective and we have to really make an effort to remember that Jordan sees the world from an entirely different set of eyes. I can see how being a toddler could be incredibly frustrating and when you think about it that way, you start to have more empathy for these little kids who are trying to live in an adult's world.

You know what's funny is after I typed all of this, I took notice of something Jason did at bedtime and it make me want to jump up and down. It was about time for me to tell her goodnight and for Jason to rock her. (I read and rock at naps and we both read to her at bedtime and then I leave for him to rock her.) She tends to get rambunctious or cranky at this point and so Jason got down on her level and was telling her how much he loved her. He was asking to give her a hug. She was not completely happy about the situation, but she did calm down and let him pick her up. I don't know if he was just doing what felt right or if he was purposefully mirroring me but it felt SO GOOD to see him handle it in a loving way and similar to how I would have wanted to handle it. I know this was only one instance but I hope coming together on all of this will be easier than I suspect. We did have a talk about all of this today during Jordan's nap so maybe we just need to continue to discuss this when things are calm and we can both really listen to one another.

Novel returned! Wink

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I really think that one could read all of the books in the world, but few of them matter. What matters is clearly defining your goals, setting a plan (as a team) to achieve those goals, and following through.

Parenting is one of the biggest and most critical things that most of us will do in life as far as the life long repercussions for both ourselves, and our children/their partners/their children etc.

I really think that the most important thing is being one the same page, whatever page it is, and whatever name some book wants to call it. We have very specific goals for our kids and set a plan for achieving it. Love is of course the key ingredient, but discipline is HUGE, (discipline to us does not mean spanking, ever, and Jake has yet to have a "break", which is what we call time outs for our older kids). and how we do it HAS to be as a team. Kids identify hypocrisy and division very very early on, and if they see it or if it exists, they will play it.

I guess I don't really have any answers other than to say forget about book stuff, and talk talk talk to your spouse. If the two of you are not a united front, you have weaknesses, and they will show more and more as your children get older. Address it now and it will really really help!

ETA: I very, VERY much would identify myself in line with AP practices regarding my babies. Its just common sense, to me, however, so I would never self identify as an AP parent. I think that a lot of the people who I have seen (on here or IRL) who really strictly subscribe to the label of "AP"with older children do so because they simply don't have a plan or anything else to rely on. I think that these are the ones who you mention, with wild children who are not adaptable or who cannot hear or understand the concept of "no". I would steer as far away from any "label" as you can, and follow your heart. Figure out your intentions for your children, and work together to find a way to get there. You can do it.

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I agree with Melissa that the books can really make more stress than good in some ways... especially if only one of you are reading it and then telling everything that it says because I know that makes my DH crazy but at the same time he has no interest in reading them because he does what feels right at that time.

We talk our way through most things (soemtimes argue a bit but in the end we go with out guts) but when things don't agree we kind of hear each other out and come out somewhere in between

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I think that a child's temperament should lead the way in deciding how to discipline, because of course the end result is learning how to conduct oneself in a socially acceptable way instead of thinking that you're the worst person in the world for doing something slightly out of line. In case you can't tell, my dad ruled with an iron fist when I was growing up, and, to use Mara's book's wording, it f***ed me up pretty badly. I want desperately to be a fleximom with some AP leanings, but my background (and tendency to freak over little things), makes me go berserk sometimes and really overpowering with punishment. I yell a lot. I probably expect too much of my kids. That's not healthy for the kids or me. I need to compartmentalize my time better. I need to actually schedule time for each of my outlets (baking, photography, Zumba--well, I guess the Zumba is scheduled, so yay, I have one!) and my household duties (like laundry, cleaning the cabinets, getting rid of clutter) so that I don't feel so much stress at not having stuff done.

I suppose that all goes back to taking care of yourself so that you're happy. A happy parent is one who can actually think critically enough to be able to come up with solutions that are appropriate for both child and parent. I don't think I'm there yet.

And then there's DH. He wasn't born here, and his family wasn't either, so he has a different cultural outlook, a new perspective on parenting and life in general. He didn't grow up in an environment as harsh as the Asian Tiger setup, but it was one in which a lot was expected of him (too much at times). He tends to also be a bit overbearing at times and then somewhat fleximom at other times. We talk a lot about discipline, and I'm trying to get us both to an area that's somewhat fleximom, somewhat AP. It's very hard with both of our backgrounds. Actually, DH is probably more successful at being flexible than I am. I'm a very passionate person and tend to react (or overreact) quickly and intensely. Moods shift fast with me. It really does help to talk things over at the end of the day, which is what we try to do. His downfall is probably lack of followthrough and very little consistency. We need to work on that for sure (especially since I'm not consistent either).

I'm sorry, I just dumped everything out there for you girls. I guess my point is that I'm struggling with this too, but it's even more of a struggle with myself than it is with DH if that makes any sense.

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Melissa and Aimee, I get what you are saying about books but I still find them to be helpful. When we were having sleep issues with Jordan, I flipped through a lot of books for help. Sometimes I just felt like the books were telling me I was doing it wrong but I think I learned to tune most of those things out. I also found some helpful suggestions so I think it all balances out. Like Mara said, sometimes a book just helps you to sort out your thoughts on something. Maybe that isn't true for everyone but it seems to be true for me.

The problem isn't so much what our goals are, it's what actions do we want to take to get there. I don't feel like the answer is always clear cut. I do listen to my gut but I guess I'm trying to learn and grow as a parent and hopefully my husband and I can learn to do that together. We talk about these things but sometimes we talk about an issue that is going on and neither one of us are sure of what the answer is. Or, say Jason wants to handle it a certain way and I want to do it differently... only I may not know exactly what that is! Here in lies the problem I suppose.

Suzanne, I completely get what you are saying. It's hard enough to mesh with your spouse on everything when it comes to parenting, I think most of us have internal struggles that we are working on too. I find that I can get frustrated very quickly and I literally have to tell myself to take a deep breath and try to keep things in perspective. I also find that some days I am much more patient than others. Or, if DH has lost his patience, I find it easier to keep mine. But then I have days where I feel like my nerves are shot and I need a break. Those days can be challenging.

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"Kayla1981" wrote:

Melissa and Aimee, I get what you are saying about books but I still find them to be helpful. When we were having sleep issues with Jordan, I flipped through a lot of books for help. Sometimes I just felt like the books were telling me I was doing it wrong but I think I learned to tune most of those things out. I also found some helpful suggestions so I think it all balances out. Like Mara said, sometimes a book just helps you to sort out your thoughts on something. Maybe that isn't true for everyone but it seems to be true for me.

The problem isn't so much what our goals are, it's what actions do we want to take to get there. I don't feel like the answer is always clear cut. I do listen to my gut but I guess I'm trying to learn and grow as a parent and hopefully my husband and I can learn to do that together. We talk about these things but sometimes we talk about an issue that is going on and neither one of us are sure of what the answer is. Or, say Jason wants to handle it a certain way and I want to do it differently... only I may not know exactly what that is! Here in lies the problem I suppose.

Suzanne, I completely get what you are saying. It's hard enough to mesh with your spouse on everything when it comes to parenting, I think most of us have internal struggles that we are working on too. I find that I can get frustrated very quickly and I literally have to tell myself to take a deep breath and try to keep things in perspective. I also find that some days I am much more patient than others. Or, if DH has lost his patience, I find it easier to keep mine. But then I have days where I feel like my nerves are shot and I need a break. Those days can be challenging.

Yes, yes, and yes!!!! Seems like we're in the same boat, but that's why we're here online together Biggrin

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"reeveslady" wrote:

Yes, yes, and yes!!!! Seems like we're in the same boat, but that's why we're here online together Biggrin

It is always so nice to find that others can relate to your struggles. Even if it doesn't fix them, it helps. Smile

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Too bad they don't let us "like" each other's posts! And, yes, it's so nice to know that others know what you're going through when things are bad/sad/crazy.

Jordan is so stinking cute in your siggy. I want to laugh right along with her there.

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Thank you, Suzanne. What a sweet thing to say. Smile

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Biggrin

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I understand all of your struggles. This was an issue with our first but I have managed to convert DH, to more of my way Wink I think I am more in the middle. I do a lot of AP type things but also have a lot of the fleximom sutff too. I have not read any books on parenting. Guess I have just gone with my gut on what works. I have really found that what works with one doesn't mean it will work with the second. We don't spank, but do some time outs nothing too drastic, but seems to be working. Keegan has had a few time outs for biting his sisters. He sits on a bench for 2 mins (he does cry, but I am still in sight) I tell him how that is not nice to bite and that hurts them, then have him tell them sorry. End of story. I try my best not to yell, but I am human and that does not always work. This is always such a tough age. We still view them as our "babies" but yet they are old enough to understand a lot and are testing the waters to see what they can get away with!

It is nice to have other moms to talk about this stuff with. And yes Suzanne, it would be nice to be able to Like peoples comments Wink