Originally Posted by DreamsInDigital
OMFG. I have a cold. Suriya has a cold. And now, she also has a wonderful vomiting sickness. How do we get sick? We never leave the freaking house! This doesn't make any sense.
Winter and Kolaiah's pink eye seems to have cleared up on its own, thank the Universe.
Mamas, I really need to talk this out. My husband is turning into a tyrant. Or, should I say, back into a tyrant. I really felt like the first time we talked about his yelling, shaming, strict disciplinary ways that he heard me and agreed to work on it. But I feel like he's given up making any sort of effort to have connection with our children. He comes home from work and if Gabriel is still up (he frequently is) then everything that I've told him about throughout his work day comes up and he just starts yelling and shaming and threatening punishments. I talk to him on the phone several times during his work day and sometimes my struggles with the kids come up because hey, sometimes I need a little support. But I don't even want to tell him anything because it winds up being a point of contention when he gets home. And then when he gets up in the morning (or early afternoon) almost without fail he starts the day off by yelling at the two older kids.
I know this kind of goes against unconditional parenting, but we agreed with the kids that they would have three tasks to do during each day, load the dishwasher, tidy the living room and tidy their bedrooms. Simple tasks, but enough help that I don't feel like the burden of the entire household rests solely on me. We told the kids if they showed us they were responsible enough to do their tasks without being nagged, then we would get them each a pet hamster. They did their tasks each day without fail for two weeks. So we went last weekend to the pet store, spent $140 and got them each a pet hamster. They day after we brought these pets home, the kids stopped doing what they'd been asked. And Gabriel complained that his hamster hated him and he wanted to give it away, because it bit him. We told the kids to give the poor little things some space and a chance to settle in, and once they did, they would probably be able to hold them without getting bitten. It did get better after a few days but the cleaning was still not getting done. I asked them several times each day and got empty promises that it would get done but it never did.
So Jim comes home last night and takes the kids' hamsters out of their rooms and puts them in our bedroom. This was after I was asleep and I didn't know about it until morning when I heard the kids and Jim yelling at each other. Apparently Jim threatened to take the pets back to the store unless the kids did their cleaning for the next week, and also that they would not get their GameBoys back until then. And that they could not watch tv until then. I didn't have a chance to talk to him before he left for work because the baby vomitted all over me, but I need to sit down and tell him how outrageous his behavior is. I'm so furious at him for being this kind of parent after I thought he understood our conversation and my desire to have a connected family free of punishments and rewards, and definitely free of tyranny and parental yelling. I've held up my end but this is just terrible. And what's worse is that my mom and dad agree with what he's doing and when he talks to them they completely support him and think I'm too permissive! Argh.
Okay. First of all, I don't remember exactly how old your older two are or what the specific situation with them is. (I am assuming that he is not their biological father, and I don't remember knowing anything about that situation either.) And whereas I don't have older children or multiple children, I have spent a lot of time up close and personal as a juvenile probation officer examining the effects of varying parenting styles. And it sounds to me like you and your DH essentially have a conflict in both your philosophical approach and your practical behavior in terms of parenting style. It seems like you are both at extremes and maybe you could even get some counseling or take a parenting class together to come to some agreement with each other on exactly how you both envision things going in your family.
At the risk of royally pissing you and possibly others off, I can actually see Jim's point of view on this one to some extent. I don't agree with yelling or shaming. But I don't think that enforcing rules or expectations, or having consequences for behavior, is tyranny. I think it's consistent parenting. Either they have age appropriate chores that they are expected to be responsible for, or they don't. But if they do have chores (and I'm assuming that they are age appropriate and reasonable expectations for your kids) then asking them to do the chores and letting them just consistently blow them off ends up sending your kids a message over the long haul that they don't really have to listen to you and that you don't really mean what you say, and I don't think that's any healthier a parental relationship than yelling is. I don't believe in authoritarian parenting, but I absolutely do believe in authoritative parenting--I think that children feel safer if they have some clear limits and expectations (with room of course for some communication and flexibility) and feel that their parents stand behind their words and are powerful enough to protect them.
Now, if you think that chores should not be tied to rewards or punishments and that the expectation in your family is that everyone is expected to do their chores because they are part of the family or whatever, that's fine too--but if getting the hamsters is a logical (positive) consequence for *doing* their work as expected, then not having the hamsters is a logical (negative) consequence for not doing their work as expected. I am not inherently opposed to any sort of behaviorist consequences (desire for positive consequences and avoidance of negative consequences certainly motivates most normal well adjusted adults a lot of the time--we go to work for the reward of money or job fulfillment, we don't speed because of fear of accidents or traffic tickets, etc.) I don't think pets work well as part of a reward system though, because they are living beings and then it becomes hard to take them away as a negative consequence. (Also hamsters in particular are nocturnal and thus not a lot of fun in the day, sometimes aggressive, and create a lot of mess and work and maintenance, which is the last thing it sounds like you need more of especially with three kids under three and two older ones!!)
I would also not be talking to your DH several times during the day and complaining about the kids. I would imagine that it makes him feel like things are out of control at home when he's gone, and also, if you buy the "men are from mars/women are from venus" stuff, your man wants to be your knight in shining armor and protect you and solve your problems. If you are complaining about the kids not doing the chores and how you are overburdened in the house and that the kids aren't listening to you and doing their chores, he's going to perceive that your parenting approach isn't working and want to try to resolve it *his* way. I'd find a girlfriend that I could talk to on the phone about your kids, who will sympathize without being personally involved or wanting to fix it for you, and leave your DH out of it unless it is something he needs to know. It sounds too like he is stressed and overwhelmed. He's probably dealing with it in a less than graceful way and probably he is just parenting the way he was parented and hasn't learned other skills. I can relate to that, as we all tend to react to our kids as *we* were reacted to by our own parents, unless we make a very intense and conscious choice to do otherwise. We can identify and choose a parenting philosophy that we are willing to commit to following, and then learn and practice other skills, but it's definitely challenging to put into practice even in the best of circumstances.
Good luck--I hope things get better!!!