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disagreement over parenting

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
Hi everyone, I used to post here a lot when my DS was little but now he's 8 and I'm back for some help!

I recently got remarried. My DP is from another country where kids are expected to show unconditional respect to their parents, always do what their told, etc. Of course most kids are hit a lot and DP has agreed we won't do that but he seems to see my own way of parenting as not effective because DS does talk back, etc.

Tonight we were driving and DS farted. DP reminded him to say "excuse me" but he denied farting. DP told him that if he doesn't tell the truth he will become a "bad child." I started shaking my head and DP asked me why. I told him I don't think it's good to label a child as "bad" even if it's just a warning, that it's the action that's bad, not the person.

We talked about it some more later and basically we disagree about labeling a person "bad" in general. Eventually I said, "let's agree to disagree, but please don't say that to DS again." He said, "Fine, he's not my child." I said, "I don't think any child should be told that." And he said, "I think it's okay to warn a child that s/he will become bad if his/her actions are bad." We haven't spoken to each other for the last hour.

So, there are two problems here:

1. how to get him on board with gentle discipline. We would like to have a child together within the next couple of years but I don't think I can if he's going to talk to our child this way.

2. how to get him to see DS as "his" child without letting him talk to him inappropriately.

I would love ideas about either one or both!
post #2 of 7
I'm trying to think of a country where kids are hit a lot and I can't think of any! I've traveled quite a bit, too. There are a lot of places where kids are expected to show a lot of respect to anyone older, but that's not accomplished by hitting.
If your dh likes to read, perhaps give him the book "Unconditional Parenting" to read? or the video? On the other hand, you may want to think about is there any truth to your ds perhaps being able to improve on his behavior.
I agree about not labeling kids, but having bad behavior does lead to kids not becoming like-able people as adults if the behavior persists. The question is what is realistic to expect from an 8 year old? I can't answer that because I don't have one, but if you've recently remarried, perhaps your ds is also rebelling against all the changes in his life, and thus acting up more? And it's quite unrealistic to expect anyone to never tell a lie...I mean seriously, people lie in so many different way, that's why we have so many names for lies: white lies, fibbing, etc. Farting is not that big deal, and your ds may have felt embarrassed about doing that in front of your dh, and then being called upon it.
As far as your dh telling you it's not his kid, well, if he can't discipline him as he would his own son, then it's not his son, is it? I mean if he can't decide how he talks to him, then you can't expect him to feel like it's his son. Also, these things take time...perhaps if they spent some time together wthout you, then there would be more bonding.
post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 
Well "a lot" may be an exaggeration but it's definitely culturally acceptable to hit kids where DP is from so he sees a relationship between strict discipline and "good" behavior.

DP is learning English and while he can talk to DS his English is definitely not good enough to read a book about parenting. So whatever changes happen will have to be through conversation with me. I will try to find the video.

I don't think DS is acting up more than he used to, though there is definite room for improvement. Feeling like DP is judging my parenting every time DS does something annoying has resulted in my acting stricter than I would otherwise, which I don't like.

I agree with you about the relationship between being his son and discipline. That's one of the things I'm asking: how do you handle it when your partner and you are not on the same page discipline-wise? Do I need to just let him parent DS however he sees fit for the sake of their relationship even if it's not how I want DS parented?
post #4 of 7
I gather your dp doesn't have any kids of his own? That's another thing...who wasn't a perfect parent until we had our own kids? It seems so easy to say "oh you should be doing a, b, c." when you've never really had to parent. Your ds may become more resentful if he sees that your parenting style is changing because of dp (if you're anxious about being judged).

Now, my dh and I often don't agree about parenting styles, etc...but i'm the one who reads a lot of parenting books and threads, and think about why I parent the way I do. I'll often tell dh "I read a thread about discipline. What do you think is right to do in this situation?" Then we'll discuss it, and it even if we disagree, it gives us opportunity to practice parenting together in a hypothetical way that's quite useful. I also very often discuss what I read and we'll talk about it. Like in UP, I LOVE the whole idea that you're raising a future adult, and what kind of adult do you want him to be...and how to get there. I also ask a lot of questions about how dh was raised, like he was spanked, was it in anger or what was the reason...and how he felt about it. And how he thinks he could improve on what his parents did. And I do the same thing...talk about what my parents did well, and what they could've done better. A lot of people think "Well, I turned out ok, so whatever my parents did worked."...well talking about makes them think how they could've turned out better. At the end of the day though, I'm much more opinionated about how my ds needs to be raised, and I get my way when we disagree (not always). I feel it's the mother's duty to protect her kids, no matter what the father or step father think But I can see where being a step parent would be hard.
post #5 of 7
Thread Starter 
You're right -- he doesn't have any kids of his own. He helped out a lot with 4 younger siblings, though, so he thinks he knows a lot.

I also love the idea of raising a future adult and I think a lot of the way I parent comes from that idea. The trouble is DP thinks people should just blindly respect their parents even after they themselves are adults, so this of course affects how he wants to parent.
post #6 of 7
Is your DP, by chance from a Middle Eastern country? I ask bc my ex is and my DC are, and this sounds all too familiar.

Just a few thoughts:

Can you maybe just ask DP to say that behavior (lying, or whatever) is wrong, bad, unacceptable? Sometimes it helps to just ask rather than explain that you think HIS behavior is unacceptable; trust me. (ie just ask for a small, slight change in his behavior, avoid labeling DP; avoid words like NEVER-- although I agree about not labeling a child...) A wise woman once told me I need to "learn to make an appeal" rather than make an accusation, start an argument, etc.

Is passing gas TOTALLY unacceptable where your DP is from? Where my ex is from, anyone over potty-training age (which there, seems to be around 10-18 months) would NEVER EVER pass gas except in a bathroom. Seroiusly, they would no sooner pass gas in front of others than they would excrete in front of them. Maybe there is a cultural reason why he was so offended?

The recipe you are looking for to make your step family work is like a crock pot: low heat, low pressure, lots and lots of time.

ps Go talk to your DP-- you do love him after all, so the silent treatment is not helpful (are you really as conflict avoidant as I am? )

post #7 of 7
Thread Starter 
He's from Tanzania, but he is Muslim (and I am now as well), so there may be some similarities to Middle Eastern culture(s).

Passing gas was part of the issue, as was lying about it, and later when we finally talked it all out so was my shaking my head at what he said that bothered him (which to me just happened involuntarily but reflected my attempt to *not* criticize). I pointed out that sometimes he could just let things go and he agreed to try. Also agreed to label behaviors instead of people. I'm hopeful, but I also know that our cultural differences are constantly cropping up, especially in parenting.

I appreciate the advice about both making requests and the crock pot recipe analogy!
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