Parenting is a tough boat to steer. First of all there are two captains, sometimes with very different opinions of which way the ship needs to navigate. Couple that with the little passengers onboard and boy are you in for a ride!
In the beginning, it was relatively easy. I mean what is there to disagree on? How to put on a diaper? We had roughly 8 and a half months to talk about and prepare for the choices we knew we needed to make together- sleeping arrangements, feeding, health related issues, gadgets, names. The tough part didn’t come until years later, starting with discipline. What is acceptable and what’s not? How do you communicate that? Once it was beyond, “no, no”, “don’t touch”, and “don’t eat that” it started to get tricky.
My husband is very laid back and his approach was generally as long as no one gets hurt, everything is alright. Leaving me to take care of all things discipline. At first it was not a big deal, I was more than fine with being the disciplinarian. As time went on and our daughter got older, I started to like that arrangement less. Daddy was always the fun one, I was always the mean one. I could see this ship sinking fast (sorry I couldn’t resist the pun). I knew that if this continued, the result would be my husband having no control or respect from our daughter if I wasn’t present and me having ultimate control, possibly fear and our relationship being one dimensional. I would just be mom the disciplinarian. She wouldn’t trust me because she would only expect to be judged without a trial.
Slowly but surely I started to see that my hypothesis was correct. Over time, my husband and I would discuss our day at night and he would tell me how he didn’t feel like our daughter respected him, she didn’t listen to him or take him seriously. We decided there were a few changes we could make immediately to help with that. It started with consistency. My husband needed to say what he meant, not make false statements, and follow through on whatever he said every time he said it. Think Supernanny but with a child that wasn’t out of control, just a dad that needed guidance. I actually had him watch that show a few times so he could see what terrors children could turn into if the captains didn’t have the right itinerary.
I’m glad that we were able to talk about our concerns and come to an agreement because there is no one route for each parenting ship. We were both raised differently and had very different examples of parenting. It is a balance of implementing what works and finding ways to do so in a way that builds your child up. We have committed to reading two things together to give us insight, advice and ultimately reassure us that we are doing something right.
First off, we are reading “How To Talk So Kids Will Listen & How To Listen So Kids Will Talk”. It is written in a way that is explained well and thought out yet easy to understand. This book has some great approaches to handle situations, offer long term solutions and gives lots of insight. There are exercises, practice scenarios, and discussion points. They make it clear that you won’t see results in a day nor will your attitude or approach change overnight, but with consistency and encouragement it can happen. Honestly, this isn’t limited to children, I think it is a great tool to implement in interactions with people of all ages. I encourage you and your partner to read it together so that you are clear on the map for your voyage because it makes it a lot easier to steer the ship, if you are steering the wheel together.
The other thing we are doing is following a 12 step plan. No I’m not referring to AA, it is a “gentle parenting” approach I found on a site I follow. At the end of each month I will post what we have done to implement the step in our family and how it went as well as inform what the next month’s step is. You can find the article here.
These days my husband and I have very good communication which makes navigating our parenting cruise ship a lot easier. We come across a storm or two every once in awhile, but so far are on course.
Do you and your partner have different parenting styles? How do you manage parenting differences? Do you have a go-to parenting book? Who do you talk to about parenting advice? Who is part of your child-rearing crew? What phase has been the easiest? The hardest? Remember, don’t be afraid to leave a comment! Don’t be shy, I’ll reply 😉