“Fold the socks!”
I hear my youngest crying out of frustration, “Ohhhh, I can’t do it!”
“Yes, you can. Now I said to fold the socks!”
I come into the room, “What is going on in here?”
My husband murmured through frustration, “I’ve showed him how to fold the socks, but he won’t. Instead, he stands there and just cries…”
“Well, have you ever considered it’s because you aren’t speaking his language?”
“What do you mean speaking his language? He knows it’s because you’ll come to his rescue!”
That was just a snippet of a conversation I had with my husband a while back.
You know what I realized for the millionth time?
My husband and I do not always agree on parenting.
I’ll admit it, I’m the positive parent. I have my moments when I’m more human than positive, but I truly try to hear my kids out.
I want to communicate with them instead of barking at them.
My husband is a great father. He is a great husband. However, he was simply raised differently.
When mom or dad said to do something, you didn’t question it. You did it!
Are you and I in the same boat? You want to be a positive parent. You are trying to be a positive parent, but your partner is just not on board?
I want to share a few of my secrets that have helped me handle this dynamic without ending up in World War III on a daily basis.
#1 I Chose to Stop the Power Struggle…
Not just with my child, but with my husband as well.
What you didn’t see in the snippet of the conversation I mentioned above was the ending.
I learned a while ago that if I want to have a happy marriage and raise happy children then I have to stop battling my husband.
We are on the same team. We both want to raise great children.
When I argue my point to the death, I bring upset and division into our household.
Neither of these are healthy for our marriage or our child.
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A lot of kids are raised in families that practice the good cop / bad cop routine. Where one parent is the positive/lenient one. While the other parent is stricter and consequently, viewed as bad.
According to Psych Central, “children suffer from low self-esteem when they perceive one parent is deeply flawed, because that parent is half of them.”
I don’t want this for my kids. I don’t want them to feel like they had a good parent and a bad parent.
And honestly, I don’t think it is fair to my husband either. Like I said, I sincerely think he is a great father.
We are both imperfect parents giving this all we have, just in two different ways.
So, you want to know what I did?
I stopped arguing. And simply accepted the fact that our parenting styles are different.
It isn’t about who is right or who is wrong.
I found that when I stopped arguing not only was our household more peaceful, but my husband stopped feeling the need to overcompensate with his style of parenting because he didn’t agree with mine.
So how did our conversation end?
I told our son that he had to do what daddy told him to do. That he needed to help fold the socks because that was something he was going to need when he got older. Then I asked him how he wanted to fold them that would make the job easier. And helped him figure it out.
Once peace was restored, I simply walked away.
I’ll be honest – I did not agree with my husband’s rescuing remark. However, even though a part of me was itching to have it out, I chose not to make any comments about it.
He came to me later and apologized. We both had been battling illness that week so neither of us were feeling up to par.
After the apology took place, that was it. It was over.
Our child folded the socks, he was happy, we were happy, and it all boiled down to realizing we are teammates.
#2 I Made an Effort to Open the Doors of Communication
What you saw in the end of step one is the outcome of this step.
First, I choose to stop battling my spouse, but after that, I made a conscious effort to talk to him.
It is important to understand your spouse’s parenting goals. You need to understand where they come from. And realize that people are going to make their parenting decisions based off of their childhood.
If they had a good childhood, they’ll likely mimic what their parents did. If they had a less enjoyable childhood, then they’ll likely try to do the opposite. This is why understanding their mindset is important.
My husband had a great childhood. He really enjoyed it.
He grew up in the country with his mom and siblings.
His mother was a single parent, and he always had a lot of respect for her because she was so strong to raise three kids on her own.
So, in his mind, he is going to try and parent as closely to her as he can.
In their household, when she spoke, you listened and did what you were told.
I don’t judge him for his approach. He turned out great, and I don’t feel his parenting style is harming our children.
I just think it adds more stress onto him.
I am the opposite. I stumbled through the first few years of parenting trying to find my parenting style.
I mimicked everyone I came in contact with until I finally found what worked for me.
When I was growing up, I was raised by a single parent too. Unfortunately, she had to work a lot in order to provide for us.
I didn’t get as much one-on-one time with her, so I didn’t really have much to go off of when I began raising my own kids.
After my third year of parenting, I realized what I wanted out of this experience. I wanted my kids to know how much I love them and how much I value them.
Not a day goes by that I take having my children for granted.
Positive parenting was my thing. It allowed me to communicate with my kids which is so important to me.
The only issue is that my husband’s parenting style and mine often times clash with each other.
I could very easily tell him to quit barking, and he could very easily tell me to quit talking to them and just make them do what they are supposed to do.
But after we both talked about why we parent the way we do and why it is important to each of us, we have a level of understanding.
We are there to help each other out if the other gets stuck, but we allow each other room to parent the way they feel comfortable.
Having this conversation with your spouse can stop a lot of the battle between the two of you.
#3 I Chose to Follow My Husband’s Lead
According to Positive Parenting.com, “The lenient parent has to follow the strict parent. When the strict parent is supported, then he or she can stop over-compensating for the leniency of the other.”
I noticed this was the case in my household and so I simply chose to follow my spouse’s lead.
It helps my husband feel supported. When you stand by your spouse and say, “Okay, I’m here if you need me. You can take this one” it lets them know you are there for them. You have their back. You trust them instead of wanting to criticize them all the time.
They are more prone to simply handle a situation as it should be, instead of feeling like they need to discipline the child for all of the times (in their mind) they got off of the hook.
I try to do this with my husband.
When he isn’t home, I still handle things the way I think they should be handled. When I’m not home, he handles things the way he thinks they need to be handled.
When we are together though, we talk it out and make a cohesive plan of action.
And then, I follow his lead.
This doesn’t mean we don’t argue over this cohesive plan of action.
A lot of times, we’ll wait until our kids go to bed. We’ll go to our room and have a spat if that’s what it takes to get on the same page.
However, the next day, we will meet our children as a united front, and I follow his lead.
This may not work for everyone, but it works for us. Given the facts that – (a) we have different styles and in any one situation we both can’t lead at the same time (b) this isn’t about winning or losing, but rather about finding what is best for our kids and (c) my husband’s personality and mine work in favor of this – this is the best solution for us.
Marriage is tough. Raising kids is tough. It takes a large dose of humility, but the outcome is worth every ounce of effort you put into it.
#4 I Learned to Eat a Slice of Humble Pie
Everyone thinks their way is the right way. We all think there is only one “right” way to eat pizza. And there must be only one “right” way to raise a child.
But you can eat pizza folded over, holding it as a slice, or heck, even with a fork and knife. You can eat it cold, or hot. Some enjoy it with a thin crust, while it can never be thick enough for others. Some like extra sauce, and others prefer extra cheese. No matter what you think, one way is no more “right” than the other.
It’s the same with parenting. There are a million different ways to go about it.
You and I choose to be positive parents. But others (like my husband) prefer the ‘old school approach’.
As long as parents are not being negligent or intentionally hurtful, it all works out. (IMPORTANT: Different parenting styles are one thing. If your spouse is abusive though, please seek help ASAP. Abuse is not a parenting style. It is a problem.)
What matters at the end of the day is this: Do your kids know how much they are loved?
Do they know how valued they are? Do they know how hard mom and dad work together to raise them the best way they know how?
If they know those things, then your child is being raised in a house of love.
So do yourself a favor. Realize that you and your partner are not the same.
Their parenting style is not the same as yours and that is okay.
Have you ever heard the saying, “You catch more flies with honey than you do vinegar?”
Show them how well positive parenting works. Don’t beat them over the head with it.
You’ll soon find when you start respecting them and their way of parenting, they’ll do the same for yours.
And before you know it, you’ll stop worrying about how differently you each throw the ball, and simply have a great game as one happy team!
The 2-Minute Action Plan for Fine Parents
It is time to do a quick review to see where you and your partner stand on parenting styles.
- Does your partner parent differently than you?
- Does it get under your skin?
- Do you constantly critique them for this different parenting style, or does it secretly eat away at you on the inside?
- Have you at all spoken about your differences?
- Do you all fight a lot over your different parenting styles?
- Have you considered trying to follow their lead?
The Ongoing Action Plan for Fine Parents
If your partner and you have different parenting styles, here’s a simple plan of action to establish peace at home –
1. Figure out why you parent the way you do.
Is there a particular reason you are a positive parent? Figure out your own why’s first.
2. Figure out why your spouse parents the way they do.
Talk to them. Tell them how you feel. Try to understand them as well.
See if you can reach some common ground. You don’t have to parent the same. You just have to agree to respect each other’s parenting styles.
3. Stop battling.
Even when your partner is driving you crazy about their approach don’t fight them.
Have you never floundered in a parenting situation like a fish out of water?
I have, and I’m glad for those moments now because I learned so much.
Give your spouse the same opportunity. They are trying to figure out this parenting thing too.
4. When you are tempted to get frustrated, take a time out.
If you follow your partner into a parenting situation, and your frustration level begins to rise. Don’t be afraid to walk away.
It is okay. We are only human, and differences are hard to overcome.
5. Remember your own positive parenting failures.
This may sound weird, but you know being a positive parent is not always an easy approach.
Remember all of the times you’ve failed at remaining positive.
This should help keep things in perspective as you watch your spouse handle things differently.
6. Always remember you are on the same team.
Don’t fight your partner when you share the same goal. Yes, there are different paths to getting there.
However, when you fight constantly over which path to take you tear down your marriage and family.
A little spat that allows both sides to be heard is okay and normal. You can’t live with someone for years on end and not expect confrontation.
Just handle it using healthy conflict resolution for the sake of yourselves and your child/children.