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ebethmom 05-27-2005 03:46 PM

Dh and I have been arguing over ds's discipline issues for the last 9 months.

Ds is smart and strong-willed. I believe that he needs a creative, consistant approach to positive discipline. In my professional life, I teach small children how to play the violin and I also help coach their parents on positive interaction.

Dh tells me last night that he is using one of MY approaches to teaching when he's dealing with ds. At bedtime, he uses a preachy monotone to say "Son, it's time to go to bed." He says this to ds over and over and over. And ds just tunes him out. Now dh tells me that this is his interpretation of "young children learn through repetition."

Dh also tells me that he thinks that yelling at ds is part of his discipline plan. That when he needs ds to listen to him, he HAS to yell.

And that he thinks it's time to start spanking ds.

I have a whole LIBRARY of GD books. But dh is too busy to read them. He wants to take a parenting class.

We're going in for counseling after we move next month. But I am so angry with him!! I can't believe he can be so boneheaded about our future.

I've known that we have lots to work through, but I thought he at least knew that yelling at a child is wrong. All along, I've been thinking "at least he doesn't beat our son like he was beaten by his father." But now I hear that he plans to hit our son in the future.

Evan&Anna's_Mom 05-27-2005 04:53 PM

I think parenting classes sound like a great idea -- just be sure YOU pick the RIGHT one! My DH and I, as well as the godparents who are the designated guardians for the kids, all took a class together. It was very helpful to hear real life examples, talk through the same situations and get everyone's reactions. And sometimes people respond better to "the expert" than to their partner.

ebethmom 05-27-2005 05:54 PM

What kind of class did you take? I've been online looking for classes/workshops - we're moving in a few weeks, and I don't know any likeminded families there yet.

I found one listing for a Positive Parenting workshop, but it looked like an occasional class.

I would love to find a Faber/Mazlish workshop on How to Talk So Kids Listen. I just ordered some video material from their website, but it looks like you would need the entire $240 kit to get the full effect.

At least we're moving to a more diverse area. The only classes I've ever seen advertised here are Ezzo! :

Evan&Anna's_Mom 05-27-2005 06:12 PM

Originally Posted by ebethmom
What kind of class did you take? I've been online looking for classes/workshops - we're moving in a few weeks, and I don't know any likeminded families there yet.

I found one listing for a Positive Parenting workshop, but it looked like an occasional class.
Actually, this is where the story gets a little funny. It was a class on "Positive Parenting" offered by the San Diego Gay/ Lesbian/ Bisexual/ Transgendered Center. It wasn't something offered by a big name person or anything. While my DH and I are straight, the kid's guardians are lesbian. Anyway, we were the only straight couple in a class of about 8 couples. It was probably really good to experience being in the minority like that! It was a weekly class that met for about 2 hours each week, with childcare in the next room (though babies and toddlers mostly stayed with their parents). It was very reasonably priced -- maybe $10 a class plus kicking in for the babysitter.

While videos might be helpful, I would have really missed the interaction between couples and the brainstorming around specific problems. It was also nice that the instructors would take specific issues that a family was having and work with it -- so there was some individual consultation, as long as you didn't mind sharing with the class. And because the couples had children of varying ages, there was an ability for someone to say "Well, that might seem good now but in a year or two..."

All of that said, I didn't find the class, so I'm not sure what advice to give. I know that our city does a bunch of classes through adult ed that are funded by cigerette money and those seem to be positive / gentle parenting approaches. Once you get settled, maybe see if there is a LLL group or API group that has recommendations? Check with the tribe area on MDC? Our town also has two magazines that come out each month that list family/kid activities and they are always full of parenting class ads. Try adult education listings? The important thing is to prescreen so you know exactly what sort of philosophy will be preached -- you don't want to walk into an Ezzo-clone by mistake! I actually insisted on talking with the teacher of our class before I would agree to go. While it wasn't 100% GD (timeouts were discussed, as were some other reward charts and such), it was a good fit for us.

ebethmom 05-27-2005 11:08 PM

Thanks for your perspective. My husband has told me that he would like to participate in a class - that he learns better when he can interact. He is mostly an extrovert, and I tend to be more introverted (especially when he is dominating the conversation). So I am still hoping for a balance between a class and discussion between the two of us.

In our talk last night, he bristled when I told him that I would need to agree with the teaching premise of the class. "You'll just look for one that goes along with what you think!" Well, yeah! When that means learning how to communicate more effectively and creatively, yes.

I think he envisions a class that will tell him how to make our son obey him. "Sometimes, I just want it to be easy." I think that if he learned a few new approaches that would ease the power struggle, he would be amazed at the difference.

I think I will go ask the Louisville tribe. Thanks!

famousmockngbrd 05-27-2005 11:32 PM

Hey Elizabeth,

I don't really have any good advice for you, just a . I know how hard it can be when you don't see eye to eye on something so important.

I think it's great you are going to counseling, I hope it helps improve the lines of communication so you can connect more easily.

The one thing I thought of when I was reading your posts was that DH seems to feel like you are not taking him seriously, that you think you are right and are not even really considering his opinion. I am sure that is in fact the case - when DH and I were having "the spanking talks" I wasn't really interested in his opinion either, lol. I feel very strongly that spanking is wrong, trying to understand how spanking could be OK is like trying to understand how racism is OK. But in order to make him feel like you are at least willing to hear him out, maybe you might consider asking him to recommend a book to you, or an author, or even a general philosophy that you could read about, research, etc. Then you could ask him to read a book of your choosing. After you have each read your books, you could sit down and discuss them with each other, trying to keep your minds as open as possible. This might help you both to understand each other better, give you some common ground to meet on.

Just a thought. I really hope you can find some good support in Louisville, Elizabeth.


lilgreen 05-30-2005 02:25 PM

1 Attachment(s)
Hi! I feel your frustration! My dh is similar.

I just wanted to say that we went to a fantastic parenting class that was entirely GD. It was called "Setting limits" but was taught by the same woman (she has a masters in psychology) who teaches a class called "Positive Discipline," so it could very well have been called the latter, too.

It was offered through our city's family services and cost $60. Mind you, that is in Canada. I suggest, however, to look up family services in your new area. Community health services, too, might be helpful. From interviews with several different parenting counsellors I've heard recently on our radio, it seems that the mainstream thought is one that is definitely more GD-oriented... no yelling, spanking. So, don't shy away from courses you might initially think won't be what you're looking for.

I sure hope you find something! it's great that he's willing to go to a class.

Best of luck and take good care,

Bleu 05-31-2005 08:24 PM

This is really indirect, but if you are nursing and/or have an interest in La Leche League, they have regional conferences every once in a while. Partners attend, too. They have seminars on all sorts of parenting issues, not just breastfeeding -- nutrition, slinging, gentle discipline, etc. -- all very APish IME. Maybe you could hook up with the local LLL and if there's a conference coming up with some relevant topics, go to it as a family? I hear there are always lots of great AP, pro-breastfeeding dads there, and he might like being with a bunch of men. And maybe he will learn better if he doesn't feel like you are right there saying "I told you so, you knuckle-dragging child-abuser!" (Maybe you're not like that -- but I am!)

And yes, Mr. Bleu is a recovering spanking believer.

ebethmom 05-31-2005 11:30 PM

Jen - I know that dh feels totally discounted by my response to his opinions. I'm still so angry at his lack of vision. I wish we could swap books! He looks at my stack of books and says "I don't have TIME to read." (Although he did tell me just this morning that he could read a book during his Conference next week. That's when he read my childbirth books last year - I was 35 weeks then.)

The whole reading thing is a sore spot for us. I've been asking him to read these books since October.

We're just in such a weird limbo. If we were staying here, I would have already found a class and we could get to work right away. But we're moving in two weeks.

OK - this might get long, but this is our drama from today:

Today, I came home from teaching and dh just looked gray. He said "I don't know what to do. Something inside me just snapped and I screamed at ds." He went on to describe the situation. Dh, ds, and dd had all been out running errands. When they came home, a realtor was pulling out of the drive. Ds had a total meltdown - he had wanted to show this absolute stranger his new treasure from the outing. Ds gets out of the van and starts to run away. Dd is still in her carseat, screaming and hot with a poopy diaper. Dh opened the doors for air circulation and went after ds. He carried him inside, but ds wouldn't stay. After two more times chasing ds down the driveway, dh just loses it and screams at ds.

When dh told me all this, he said "I need help. I don't know what to do." I tried some scenarios of how he could have averted the drama, but he rejected them all.

Dh just wants to tell ds "No, you can't do that!" and have ds say "OK then, I won't." I use diversion a lot, and choices.

I actually feel relieved to hear that dh was scared by his response to ds.

annab 06-01-2005 12:25 AM

It sounds like he has really unrealistic expectations for what is age-appropriate. Maybe a child development class would help? Another option might be a book on tape, if there is nothing in your area (there is not much here in Indy, either). I got How to Talk So Kids Will Listen.... for DH on tape, and he listened to it to and from work.

This is one of those deal-breaker issues for me. We talked about this before we even had kids, and I told him, "If you ever intentionally harm my kids physically or emotionally, I will leave you and you will only see them with me there as a chaperone." And I was dead serious. He thought you had to spank and yell to raise kids, and he is totally reformed. I also know that he would be devastated to see the look on our kids' faces if he ever hit them. Can you put the conversation in that context for your DH?

Destinye 06-01-2005 01:16 AM

No suggestions I need them too!

PikkuMyy 06-01-2005 06:20 AM

I also agree (I work in early childhood special ed) that your DH has unrealistic expectations of appropriate behavior and cognitive development in a child who's not yet 4. Perhaps a book on child development that addresses the 3-5 age range would be more appropriate because it would help him understand how your son thinks (the world revolves ALL around him) and that he needs to consider that when deciding how to interact with him and respond to inappropriate behavior.

ebethmom 06-01-2005 11:22 AM

annab - I just ordered the shorter version of How to Talk So Kids Will Listen on tape. I can't remember the name of this two tape version - I'm going to listen to it before I pass it on to dh.

This whole issue just blows me away. I thought we had agreed for years that we would never hit our children. Dh's father used a belt, and dh's mother had her kids cut their own switches. Dh had always told me that he would never want his kids to live with that kind of fear.

At least dh said that he realized that his actions were inappropriate yesterday. He said that the look on ds's face shamed him (but then he also said "But the yelling worked - he did stop and listen to what I was saying." )

PikkuMyy - do you have any recommendations for a child development book? I'm not convinced that adding to my library will have any effect, since dh doesn't want to read. (Never mind that he has reading/study time built into his day at work.) But I will keep on reading and trying to interject fact into the madness.

nancy926 06-01-2005 01:40 PM

I thought of a few questions you could ask your DH:

What are your long-term goals for raising our son (that is, what kind of adult would you like him to be)?

How do you see yelling at him (or spanking, or whatever) fitting in with these goals?

Why do you think he does the things he does (that is, what's behind his behavior - running away or whatever)?

A lot of "discipline" is totally short term. You want the kid to obey you RIGHT THEN, but you're not thinking about long-term effects. And usually we look at surface behavior (running away, hitting) rather than what's motivating that (usually sadness, fear, anger). Plus there's plenty of evidence to show that spanking, yelling etc don't really help (otherwise people wouldn't have to do them over and over and over).

I have yelled at DD before and always regretted it. DH never yells - he has raised his voice maybe 3 times, but not yelled.

If you are a reader type, try Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn. To me, it's pretty revolutionary stuff.

Hope some of this helps...sorry it's so disjointed.

famousmockngbrd 06-01-2005 09:39 PM

I think the time has come for subliminal messages - try whispering in his ear while he is asleep every night, "You will not spank or yell at will not spank or yell at DS..."

Sorry, no actual advice. I think the book on tape is a great idea, hopefully he will listen to it.


annab 06-01-2005 10:51 PM

My personal favorite book for explaining age-appropriate behavior is Becoming the Parent You Want to Be. First, it tells what to do about a topic by age. For example, hitting for infants, toddlers, preschoolers. Second, it does not say, "This is what you should do". Instead it gives you several choices so that you can pick the ones that work for your family. I refer to this book all the time. We just hit a rough patch and when I realized that DS's world got real big, real fast when the weather got warm. I knew he needed for me to be very consistent to give him a solid base. By that, I don't mean discipline as in this action=this consequence, but more in giving him constant love and making sure that he got one on one time every single day, that we still read books everyday, that we went to my parents every Thursday, etc. He needed to know that I was not just turning him loose on the world (and vice versa).

I pull this book out once a month when I am thinking, "What could possibly be his motivation for acting like such a poop."

Edited to add that the hardest I have cried in a long time came about two months ago. DH and DS came home from an errand, during which DS had been THREE (our way of saying the extreme of the hardest 3 YO behaviors) the whole time. As they came in the door, DH snapped at DS. I just started bawling (first post partum PMS). I sent DS to his play room after I got him calmed down. Then I started sobbing, "Don't yell at him".

Magella 06-02-2005 03:54 PM

I agree on helping your dh learn about age-appropriate behavior. There's a series of books by Ames and Ilg called "Your One Year Old", "Your Two Year Old" and so on (up to age 12 I think) that has some good developmental information. (It's old and has some outdated and sexist ideas, but the developmental info is good).

My dh doesn't read, so I do the reading and we have conversations about what I've read. (Not the "you're doing it wrong, here's how I want you to parent" kind of conversations, but the "here's what I read and it made so much sense to me, because.." kind of conversations.)

If I understand your posts, your dh has a history of being abused, and that's the only parenting role-model he has? That makes becoming a gentle parent really challenging. He needs a lot of support, especially from you, and counseling is an excellent idea. It sounds like he wants to make some changes, to be more gentle with the kids, and that's fantastic.

But also, I know my dh needs to know I think he's a competent parent, he needs to know I respect and support him, and he needs to not feel as though I'm trying to manage his relationship with the kids for him-he needs to develop his relationship with them himself. Does that mean that I won't object if he says he thinks spanking is okay? No. But it does mean that I don't criticize his interactions his interactions with the kids often (though I will discuss it with him if something he does really bothers me), it means that I sympathize when he complains that the kids never listen or whatever ("yeah, me too. It's really frustrating.") just as often as I point out our unrealistic expectations (dh: "she doesn't listen." me: "well, she's 5."). It means we're learning together how to parent, rather than me telling him how to do it. It means that I ask him his opinions about how to handle some things too, even if I'm the one who has done all the reading and taken the child development classes.

Originally Posted by ebethmom
When dh told me all this, he said "I need help. I don't know what to do." I tried some scenarios of how he could have averted the drama, but he rejected them all.
You know, maybe he needed to hear you say something else. Sometimes when parents struggle they need to hear not what they could have done differently, but that someone understands how hard parenting is and that someone believes in their ability to become the kind of parent they want to be. Sometimes parents need to hear "what changes do you want to make and how can I help?" rather than a list of what they should have or could have done instead. Sometimes parents need to hear that all parents make mistakes sometimes and it isn't the end of the world, and that nothing is wrong with them-it's just that parenting is hard, especially if your own parents were not good role models. (It's not unlike when our kids do something inappropriate when they're upset, and they reject our problem solving ideas because they just want their feelings to be heard and to be reassured that they aren't bad people.)

I feel for you both.

ebethmom 06-02-2005 09:06 PM

Originally Posted by famousmockngbrd

I think the time has come for subliminal messages - try whispering in his ear while he is asleep every night, "You will not spank or yell at will not spank or yell at DS..."

: Just picturing the sleepy, befuddled look on dh's face when he rolls over to say, "Huh?" I needed a laugh - thanks, Jen!

Sledg - thanks for the book info. I have gift cards for two different stores, and some time next week to shop.

I know that you're right about my dh needing to hear something supportive from me. There are a lot of things that he does right. I am very much looking forward to counseling. I know that we can say these things in a safe environment. (Not that our home isn't safe - I don't really know why I can't talk to dh right now. I think that I'm just too tired for the drama.)

Foobar 06-02-2005 10:26 PM

When your Dh said that the yelling worked, ask him why? Does he realize that he probably scared the sh*t out of DS?

Then if he says, "Well yeah, that was the point"(usual answer) ask him "Do you want our son living in fear of you just to obey?"

Just some food for thought for him

Magella 06-02-2005 10:54 PM

Ebethmom, I just wanted to recommend a book that I think is great for people just learning about GD and for results-oriented dads in particular: "The Secret of Parenting" by Anthony Wolf. It's very GD (though maybe not quite as AP) and IMO, there are some great things about this book-the author explains that no matter what, sometimes kids just don't do what we want and the sooner we understand that, the less frustrated we'll be; the author explains how our intense reactions tend to encourage more of what we're trying to teach our kids not to do or at least just aren't effective; and the author gives lots of concrete suggestions and examples of when to use them. I know you said your dh doesn't read, but if you haven't read it maybe you could and could share some of the ideas with him.

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