Sunday, April 1, 2007

Parenting Styles

I'm a member of a local mommy webboard and one recent post has had me thinking quite a bit.

The question posed is this: Do you and your husband (S.O., whomever) have different parenting styles?

Before I married, I felt that there were essential areas where you and your potential spouse must be in synch: sex, finances, family planning, parenting/discipline. These are the areas of a marriage that can cause the most friction and breakdown the easiest.

I figured that I'd ask the tough parenting/discipline questions like, "Do you believe in spanking?", "What type of behavior do you expect of the children in public?", "What about time-outs?"

Yes, those are the hard hitting questions I thought would help us navigate our children's discipline problems. Little did I know that while you can agree theoretically, when it comes to the day to day issues it's tough!

So we had our first child and suddenly it wasn't about how they behave in a restaurant or if they bite another kid in the 3rd grade or not being a bully. Issues such as: Do you rock a child to sleep or put them in the crib? Do you let a child cry in the crib? How long? Do you say "eat this or nothing!" to a 24 month old? How do you discipline throwing things? Whoa!

Who knew that we could be so opposite on these things? And there's no way to know how you'd deal with these situations until you're in them.

I find that it's best if we just get through the instance, then regroup later and discuss why we dealt with it the way we did, what the other person felt was the better choice, why, and come to an agreement on how to handle it in the future. For some issues, it's taken us weeks and months to finally get on the same page.

The important thing is consistency. You have to do the same thing every time and so does the other parent. You have to work together. It's not so easy!

Both my husband and I have issues that are hot buttons for us. It may not bother me if my son doesn't want to eat but it irks my husband to no end! His frustration is palpable and of course our son picks up on it. So we tag team. If I have reached my limit, I call in Daddio. If he's reached his limit, he passes the task off to me. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. But we are learning more and more to rely on each other.

Consistency, communication, reliance on the other and faith in the other's ability to parent. That's how you work it out.

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