how to deal with major differences in parenting styles? *long* - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 14 Old 02-28-2008, 11:52 PM - Thread Starter
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This is my first post in this forum and it ended up being a novel!

I am really hoping for some advise. My dh and I seem to have very different parenting philosophies. I am trying not to judge my way as good and my dh's way as bad... I am trying to find a way we can live together without constant fighting over how we parent our children.

I *try* to respond gently and with love... certainly I am no saint and I have my bad days, but I really work hard to make my interactions with my dd's based on love and mutual respect. My younger dd is sensitive and generally a pretty easy going kid so I think this works well. My dh is much more stern. His responces are firm and IMO harsh. He thinks he responds appropriately and not meanly.

We see things very differently... I dont see his methods working but see mine working, and vice versa... he says my dd is a completely different person when I am not around and I see her 'acting up' alot more when dh gets home.

Here is a simple situation, and how each of us would respond, for illustrative purposes.
*dd (2) looks like she is going to throw a crayon at us, then proceeds to throw it.
before dd throws the crayon I say "sweetie please dont throw that at me" and if she does anyway, I say something along the lines of "that was not nice... mommy does not like to get hit with crayons. Please show mommy gentle" if its a crayon throwing fest, I will either quietly remove the crayons and replace them with something else to get her attention or I will tell her that if she throws the crayons again they will have to go away, then put them out of site for a while if she does throw them again. This will usually result in crying, at which point I hold her and tell her I am sorry she is sad.
before dd throws the crayon he says something like "dd do not throw that at me/ dont you throw that at me" if she does throw the crayon he will say in a stern authoratitive voice "dd do not throw things at me. Thats it, you are done they are going away, its over" at this point dd is crying and runs over to me for the above mentioned cuddle.

Anyway, I am sorry this is getting so long. I am just at a loss here... I cant hold my tounge when I think he is being a jerk, and he thinks I am far too meddlesome in his relationship with his children. I cant understand why he cant just be nice, and he cant understand why I cant keep out of it. Almost daily its a fight. He refuses to talk to me about parenting anymore, saying he will not ask me permission or run things by me before he interacts with the kids. I say I wont stop interupting or 'sticking up for' dd until he changes his ways and is nicer. Its just going nowhere. Its gotten to the point where we were ready to have more kids and have put that off becuase we just cant seem to get on the same page with the ones we already have.

Any input or advice is much appreciated. Thank you!

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#2 of 14 Old 02-29-2008, 01:00 AM
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Honestly it sounds to me like both of you aren't really handling this well.

I have a 2 year old, and if it seemed like she was about to throw a crayon at me, I would say something like,

"Oh, dd, color more! You are making a beautiful picture! Color some more!"

Or if I sensed her attention with coloring was done (my 2 yo can focus on coloring for just a couple minutes) I would cheerfully meet her hand with mine, taking the crayon, and say, "It's time to put the crayons away!" while putting it away very clearly. I would then hand her another crayon for HER to put away, because she will generally follow my lead, because unless sh'es exhausted or starving, 2 year olds love imitation.

Crayons are for coloring. We get them out when we color, they are wonderful so we put them away when we are done so they don't get lost or broken, and we get them out the next time we color.
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#3 of 14 Old 02-29-2008, 01:10 AM
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don't really have advice, since we seem to have an *exactly* same problem as me. just wanted to offer you a

but my husband suggested something kind of cool, which was to write down things that I want to convince him of/say/disagree whatever, when I have time, then he will look at it and respond back in writing, that way we don't have to argue in front of kids and be mad at each other. Kind of like partner journal? have not tried yet, but will report back, if you are interested.
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#4 of 14 Old 02-29-2008, 01:45 AM
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i just started reading becoming the parent you want to be , and it deals with this issue...
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#5 of 14 Old 02-29-2008, 02:09 AM
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I have to agree that you both seem to handling your example situation rather similarly. That is, communicating your dislike of your dd throwing crayons. The ops had some good suggestions for handling this situ differently.

I think it's important to look at the big picture and discuss your goals for your kids with you dh. Then you can share with him, not just your opinion about how to reach those goals, but research and expert advice about how to reach those goals.

When dh and I disagree about how to discipline our kids, I always start out by saying, "If we agree in this situation that our goal is X..." and we start then from the same place, trying to problem-solve rather than creating right/wrong scenarios. BTW, I do think it's not positive to have these exchanges in front of the kids unless they are in danger of being hurt by the other parent.

Me : living with and loving papa and the kids: Dd1 8/97 , dd2 8/04 and my sweet baby ds 5/09 : :
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#6 of 14 Old 02-29-2008, 02:13 AM
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I have the same problem. I find that my DH's interactions with DD (23 mo) are too stern and harsh. She doesn't react well to him, and he doesn't react well to my "criticism." I don't really have any advice, but I just wanted to let you know that you aren't alone.

mama to DD (7), DS (3.5), and another DS arriving in August!

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#7 of 14 Old 02-29-2008, 04:19 AM
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My DH tends to react like OP's. I have found that saying something like "Give DS a chance to change his behavior" or "Give DS a chance to learn" makes DH more likely to try a more gentle strategy. He realized that telling DS "That's it, time for bed since you are hitting the cat" and carrying him kicking and screaming into the bedroom was not working. It stopped DS from hitting the cat that time, but we need to show him how to pet the cat nicely and that we are gentle with animals. Explaining to DH what we are trying to accomplish discipline-wise with DS and the most effective method of doing so was the best way I could discuss it with him. I think men generally tend to be more results-driven, so it helps to start the discussion by focusing on what you want to achieve. Do you want to just stop the behavior or do you want to teach your children how to be thoughtful, considerate people?
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#8 of 14 Old 02-29-2008, 10:38 AM
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it seems to me that you are both behaving in the exact same way:

both ask her not to throw crayons; if she throws them you remove the crayons.

the difference is, you use the syrup voice and he uses the stern voice. neither is apparently working.
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#9 of 14 Old 02-29-2008, 03:43 PM
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Well I agree with Zoebird. Same pattern just syrup versus stern.

Except I'd try not to worry too too much about anything "working" with a 2 year old. That's making it far too much your responsibility to manipulate her perfectly all the time. She's her own person and .. she's 2.

Aren't 2 year olds supposed to throw things? A least for a small time?
Then you take that thing away. Maybe you give the kid something soft to throw. Syrup, stern, impassive, 12 requests, 2, none, whatever, you still take it away. So the message eventually sinks in that throwing things means you don't get to keep em.

Maybe you can tape your DH and let him hear his own voice/tone. I grew up in an authoritarian household and found it helps me to ask myself if I would use this voice with a grown up. Maybe your DH is actually pretty blunt with people in general?

In the worst case your dd will learn to interact with different styles of people. You are both being pretty consistent in the timing of interaction and type of behavior you regulate as described.

If you are both agreeing on what constitutes correctable behavior then I'd say you are actually on the same page even if you are drawing in different colors.
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#10 of 14 Old 03-01-2008, 08:42 PM
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I agree with previous posts. Especially the idea of bringing up his tone up to him.

You are both trying to accomplish the same thing, both with the same end (I would take away the crayons too, saying 'Crayons are for coloring. Here is a soft ball. The soft ball is for throwing.' - Saying things like "Don't throw the crayon." doesn't work well for that age group, at 2 they tend to process only partial sentences so she hears "throw crayon", you might try, "we are gentle with our crayon." for better results.)

Breeder Mama: = wife to an amazing man + mama to J-Bear (07/02) and E-Train (06/08), nanny to Little Bird (07/10).

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#11 of 14 Old 03-01-2008, 09:20 PM
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I tend to head more towards the choices... toddlers have so little choice in their lives that they tend to do things they're not supposed to just to show that they can. I model it to my husband, he sees it work, and now I hear him doing it, too. He's not dumb, he won't argue with what works!

So what we say is "If you draw with the crayon, you may keep holding it. If you throw it, I will put it away." Or, if throwing has already happened without the warning being issued: "We don't throw crayons. If you throw it again, I will put it away." Then follow through in either case, no anger or drama. Keep it simple, and the stress level goes waaaay down.

Good luck. This is definitely a challenging time!
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#12 of 14 Old 03-01-2008, 10:25 PM
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So much is dependent on tone but... I don't honestly see how he is being a jerk in the situation you described, unless his tone is really mean. I think it is fine to set a limit like "don't throw the crayon at me." (Although I don't think it's particularly effective in that exact phrasing.)

If that's sort of it, I'd try to relax a little and appreciate your DH for the parent he is - he is not taking the crayons away forever, forbidding crayons, grabbing her arm brutally, spanking her, or sticking her in her room with the door shut. Yes, there's room for him to be nicer about it, but I'd START with appreciating, and then move on to maybe reading "How to talk so kids will listen" together.

~ Mum to Emily, March 12-16 2004, Noah, born Aug 2005, Liam, born January 2011, and wife to Carl since 1994. ~
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#13 of 14 Old 03-01-2008, 10:46 PM
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Hi Theresa. I know I have been absent for awhile and I am sorry.

Anyway, when my husband and are having differences I find it very useful for us to talk about our goals -- but if that is not getting us anywhere, then to read a parenting book together to get on the same page. And I have seen both of you guys in action -- you both are marvelous parents, who love your kiddos -- but the struggle to find a common ground can be difficult. But once you are there - - reminding each other and stepping in when the other is having a hard day -- well, it will be such a relief. But what helped us, is together to read, learn and agree on a common "method". We did this by talking about ultimatley what kind of children we wanted, what our goals as parents were - this was easy for us, we were on the same page there. Anyway, there are some really great books if you are looking to parent gentle discipline that offer practical advice. Because while theory is great, often times I need a practical solution. Here are some of my favorites:

Also, one of the authors is giving a talking in Lincoln Park in March -- maybe going together would be helpful I know that creates all sorts of childcare issues. If you are interested, I can give you the contact info to buy the tickets.

Here are some short pamphlets that are from the Center of Non Violent Communication -- and the theory is that it offers a four step way to communicate -- in all sorts of ways (with spouses, bosses, children) that is problem solving. The booklets are short, offer theory and some practicality. I have them in PDF format if you want me to send them to you.

Raising Children Compassionately: Parenting the Nonviolent Communication Way
by Marshall B. Rosenberg, Ph.D. This 22 page booklet, filled with insights and stories, will prove invaluable for parents, teachers, and others who want to nurture children and also themselves. (6 x 9, 22 pages) This book is available in a combination pack.

Parenting From Your Heart: Sharing the Gifts of Compassion, Connection, and Choice
by Inbal Kashtan As a parent, you're constantly faced with challenges. Self-empathy, dealing with anger, and the protective use of force are just some of the parenting challenges addressed here, along with real-world solutions to help meet everyone’s needs. (6 x 9, 46 pages, PDP)
both found here: (but like I said I can email these to you).....

I am sure your library has the first book available if you are interested -- I would offer to loan it, but well -- I consult it alot. Parenting a toddler is hard, it really is. And conflicts between parents is normal. I remember with my oldest really struggling to find a "method" to address issues. I relied heavily back then on Dr. Sears -- and his Discipline Book which I found helpful also. I bet your library has this one too.

Also, the API website has a ton of great book suggestions on discipline -- that are both theory and practical. But I have found that reading a book together and discussing it to be soooo helpful. I will email.
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#14 of 14 Old 03-02-2008, 10:34 PM - Thread Starter
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Thank you so much for all the rescources. Dh is not much of a reader, but I can get the books and photocopy relevant chapters and stick it in his coat pocket so he has it to read on the train in the morning

Proud mom of three!  Special needs teen princess wheelchair.gif , 7 year old happy girl modifiedartist.gif , and my flower toddlerhearts.gif

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