I have a question, and I will use the example of the other night at bedtime. I was in bed with my son reading books and ready to switch off the lights. He didn't want to go to bed but rather go downstairs and play. My husband (of the thought process that it is our responsibility to 'discipline' children) started shouting that he must listen to his mother and go to bed. Crying ensued. I on the other hand, because I've learned that my husband and I have different techniques, felt awful that I let this happen, then took my son downstairs for 10 minutes, said goodnight to the house, switched off all the lights with him and he peacefully, willingly came to bed... My question is: 1. How confusing must these two styles be to my son? I hate that I can't convince my husband on my parenting style when it so plainly is more effective?! And 2. How can I best manage that with my husband - he tells me I'm too soft and that I don't play any role of a disciplinarian and that my son has me wrapped around my finger and is manipulating me (which I know is not true! I allow him to act out whatever it is that he wants because I know it’s not harmful and just requires me to be patient, eventually we are back on the same page)...Such a great question and one that happens so often. First, your son will understand that there are two approaches to the issue and will have a clear representation of it. That’s a great tool for the rest of his life. Quite honestly, he will appreciate yours in the long run and rather than it being taken for granted he will know that you respect his wishes, and learn to respect yours, he will feel listened to, and seen as a person. He will come across a lot of people who react as your husband and understand it on a deeper level as he grows. Unfortunately, it may build a wall between him and his father as time comes as he won’t feel like a person... just a child in his father’s eyes. But this is a common hurdle that a lot of parents overcome in time.
You can’t convince another person of anything and discipline has been the parenting model for a very long time. The only thing I can suggest is being honest, saying things like “I hated it when my parents tried to control me, I never did what they wanted me to do, or I just resented it.” Or “Do you like to be controlled?” or “When people don’t respect what I’m asking I feel alone, I don’t want him to feel that way.” If he says your son is manipulating you, then remind him you don’t want to manipulate your son to get to bed. You want a family that respects each other, and when a child is young it is often about showing that respect to our children, to set the bar. Reassure your husband that if your son starts asking too much, that you will ask for the same respect you are showing him and teach him to respect your husband’s and your wishes, so the family can be harmonious.
Your husband is doing what he feels is best and reacting to how he feels. That needs respect too. A family is a co-creation and you will all find compromises and ways of falling into step with each other. Helping his relationship with his son, you can encourage your child to be considerate of his father. “Your dad seems stressed tonight, lets take you up to bed to give him some quiet time.” Etc.
Also, if you ever want to get your husband in on this conversation, he is welcome to write to me too. My husband and I both started off this parenting journey thinking control was the order of the day, the joyful journey was discovered soon after we realized control just wasn’t working.
The mother's husband then wrote me, to express his perspective:
Husband- At the current time our son throws tantrums for the smallest things it is basically whenever something doens't goes his way. As soon as his mother or anyone gives or let him do what he wants it stops immediately..... i'm sorry but this is emotional manipulation.... these are toddlers when they will become or are teenagers things will be or are not the same arguing your way out is not an option and issues discussed might not always play the way we wish in the teenagers mind... We live in a world and society which is dictated by authority and respect.. we all have to follow rules whether we like it or not, a child that is given his way whenever he wishes will have serious issues with authority as he grows up... that means issues with school and studies issues with work and social issues as well. I just can not imagine a person having a healthy life if they get angry because something doesn't happen there way and things in life don t always play the way we expect them... Plato once said that everything in life needs balance anything in excess leads to chaos or destruction, i personally think with children it is necessary to love them as much as possible but not over spoil them, communicate with them as much as possible but respect their privacy as well and not in a parental psychotic way, be respected and have your authority respected by the child but not be hitler either and mainly to have has much fun as possible with them. After all we all love are kids here on this forum otherwise we wouldn't be here but let's face it what we want is for our kids to have a happy childhood so yes it is ok to get dirty once in a while , yes it 's ok to have chocolate and candy enjoy for god sake let kids be kids.......
I am so glad you wrote. Thank you for providing your perspective. I actually agree with a lot that you have said. But as this page tries to tap into the deeper version of both ourselves and our children, I would like to shift the perspective slightly to say how I agree. At our spiritual core we are positive beings, when we feel less then ourselves, when we feel “off”, insecure, unsure, frustrated, confused, or upset we act unlike ourselves. As we get older we get use to feeling off. We become in the habit of it and in doing so can go through the motions of the day, dealing with people “socially” acting like nothing is wrong. A 2 year old can’t cover their true emotions up. They can’t pretend they don’t feel off when they do and they are so lucky. When we feel off and are aware of it, we can then use it as a spiritual tool to connect to our higher source again. If we cover it up, sometimes we don’t know how disconnected we really are and we become like shadows. Therefore, our children’s tantrums are great tools. Now, where I agree is that a child can’t always get what they want, none of us can, and that goes especially when we are feeling off. It’s a bit of a vicious circle, but it’s the same for all of us. Universal powers will never let us get our own way when we are disconnected, we think we need something to be happy, but we usually can’t get it unless we get happy anyway.
When a child has a tantrum it’s a delicate balance. I find it feels off just to give in, because it passes on the concept that things make us happy and that the world is waiting to give everything we want to us provided we scream loud enough (where you were coming from, right?), but if we shut the tantrum up we are telling them to get over feeling off and pretend the feeling doesn’t exist. This leads to a different shutting down later in life. We are also passing on to them that if we shout loud enough, or make demands, than we get what we want (children going to bed for instance). Shouting at children either shuts them down, or gets them shouting to get their way later on in life. So, where does that leave us? Viewing our children as people too it depends on the scenario and each individual situation. Sometimes a child is so tired it takes picking them up, crying even in their offness, tucking them in and holding them tight. We know it feels horrible to feel off, many a time we want to scream and shout, but bed can be a great place to get connected again. A firm no, you are going to bed, and then making bed a fun, loving experience can really help them get back to themselves. Sometimes our children are actually feeling connected and are in the middle of a great train of thought, the idea of stopping that to go to bed freaks them out as they felt so great and now we’re taking it away. Tantrum ensues. On something like that, understanding that we all hate to have a train of thought interrupted, can be offered a few more minutes to finish up. When we see our children from their deeper level we don’t fall into the “you have to do what I say all the time.” Rather we can build a firm, understanding and listening relationship.
Like I said, it’s a delicate balance. But worth it, as it doesn’t raise brats, rather people who are aware of other people’s feelings and perspectives , and more importantly, their own. All the best!