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(I didn't put this in "Parents as Partners" because I want opinions based on how you parent, not necessarily how your relationship with a partner is.)

Dh and I often have the following argument. I don't know why we haven't figured this one out by now, but we haven't.

Dh will say to ds (age 6): "Come get your teeth brushed."
Ds will say, "I want mom to brush my teeth."
I say, "I'll brush his teeth."

Simple, right? But no, dh has to get upset and insists that ds let him brush his teeth, because he said so. Ds will start crying. Dh will threaten to take something away--in December I always have to hear the threat of "we'll just cancel Christmas!!" which makes the whole month miserable.

So I step in and say, "we're not canceling Christmas and I'll brush his teeth." Then later dh gets really mad at me because I'm "thwarting his authority" and I'm going to have an unruly teenager on my hands in the future, etc.

The dentist said that ds still needs help brushing his teeth, so just letting him do it by himself isn't an option right now . Dh does work out of town, so half the time he's not even home and it's not a problem. (And yes, I have tried to remember to quickly brush ds' teeth after dinner so this doesn't come up, but sometimes I'm not fast enough.)

This issue manifests itself in other situations, as well. Dh is a "eat it because I put it on your plate" parent. I'm a "ok, you don't want to eat that, what would you like to eat?" parent.

Once dh got mad at ds because ds wanted to sharpen his pencil before doing his homework. Dh wanted the homework started RIGHT THAT SECOND and dh didn't think ds needed to sharpen his pencil.

Dh is chronically sleep-deprived (because of work) and I'm sure a lot of our issues are related to that. But hey, I'm a tired WOHM, and I still manage to parent with empathy.

Sometimes I worry about the damage I'm doing to my marriage because I stick up for my son (we don't have these issues with our daughter), but then I remind myself that, ultimately, I'm raising children, not my husband. How I parent ultimately matters a lot more to them than to him.

Anyway, thanks for reading.

ETA: The "I'll create an unruly teenager" thing kills me. Dh's parents were authoritarian, and he WAS, in fact, an unruly teenager. But he doesn't see the connection! He thinks my "permissiveness" will create an unruly teenager. I'm not afraid of teenagers, unruly or not. I'm a high school teacher!!!
 

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You know, this could have been me and my DH if not for the fact we had dogs before children. The dogs gave us lots and lots of opportunities to discuss how to handle discipline and it lowered DH's dirt threshold and standards immensely.

Which doesn't help you! But I guess, I would suggest watching the Unconditional Parenting dvd with your DH and see if that sparks proactive conversation. And talk about your values and the best ways to impart them.

I always see your posts and find you to be very intelligent and knowledgeable. I think if you keep trying different ways to connect with DH and open his eyes that you will eventually be successful.

ETA: I see DH is gone quite a bit so it sounds like he is not as connected to the family and may not really understand the developmental ins and outs of his kids. This could be part of the issue as well. I know DH is not as fluent in 'DD' as I am for example and this stymies him sometimes.

V
 

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I think you are both right in some ways. You are undermining him, but he also should back off the "Do it my way because I said so!" attitude, especially for things that are so minor. You two need to get together and talk about how you want to handle discipline in general and then bring up specific examples and figure out how you want to handle them. Maybe come up with a code word or gesture that would be a gentle reminder you could give each other when one parent gets too frustrated to remember how you wanted to handle things so you aren't undermining each other. And then agree to come back to the discussion when something new comes up that you haven't dealt with before. It is only going to get harder IMO as your son gets older if you don't have a good talk and continue to have the discussion about discipline. And remember even after that, you will both make mistakes, but at least you will be on the same page!
 

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My dh & I often have conflicts like this -- where my basic concern is the attitude with which he approaches a behavior. He's been very turned off by the typical AP literature (feels it preaches to let kids walk all over us), but I think I accidentally found a book that speaks to him. Check out The Anatomy of Peace. I forget the author -- it's by the -something-that-starts-with-A Institute. It has resonated with my dh where nothing else did. It's also helped me see where I was not being fair to dh in the way that I dealt with him in areas I wanted him to change.

Basically, though, I try to not get in the middle of dh & the kids unless I can see/hear that everyone needs a mediator. I try to speak with dh about how things would have gone better if he'd responded differently *after* the fact. Or, I'll gently interject and say, "Dear, dd is trying to ask you a question . . . "
 

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We have this problem sometimes. Although it's difficult, I think the best approach is to discuss the situation with your partner later in private and come to an agreement about how to handle this type of situation in future, and to resist intervening in the moment unless someone is actually being harmed badly.

Quote:
Dh will say to ds (age 6): "Come get your teeth brushed."
Ds will say, "I want mom to brush my teeth."
I say, "I'll brush his teeth."

Simple, right? But no, dh has to get upset and insists that ds let him brush his teeth, because he said so.
No, it's not simple. Does your son ever respond this way to you? If not, then you don't know how it feels! It's probably not just a matter of your husband feeling that his commands are being ignored; it's also that he feels rejected as a person and as a parent, like your son is saying, "I don't like you! I won't let you be my dad! Mom is better than you!"
And when you jump in, you're validating those feelings for both of them.

Another thing to consider is that if you "rescue" your son from his dad all the time (and/or "rescue" dad from the aggravation of parenting his child), you'll become the only parent who can do stuff with your kid. That will cause trouble when you want or need to do something by yourself.

My son (almost 4) often expresses a preference for me. We've been trying to respond to this as if he's saying, "Daddy, I need you to be nicer to me." That means my partner strives for a gentler or more playful approach to what he's trying to do, and I STAY AS FAR AWAY AS POSSIBLE, preferably out of earshot and doing something important so that we honestly can say I'm not available to brush his teeth because I'm in the middle of washing dishes or whatever. If I overhear specific things my partner says/does that I think are poor choices, or I notice he's NOT using a technique I think would be useful, I tell him about it later. Sometimes, if I haven't been right there the whole time, I've missed an important part of their interaction and consequently misunderstood what's going on.

I've found that if I rush to "correct" my partner's parenting when he's in the middle of it:
a. He gets mad at me because he feels undermined and insulted.
b. It reinforces our child's impression that Mama does things right and Daddy does them wrong.
c. My partner will not accept the correction and incorporate my technique the next time. Because he's angry, whatever I say gets associated with his anger, so when he thinks about those ideas again he feels angry and defiant.
d. The problem of the moment (which was between the two of them) mushrooms into a bigger, longer problem that stirs up all sorts of issues between my partner and me.

When I can just stay out of it and let them muddle along, usually they can resolve it without me. If both parents stand firm about the need for Daddy to do certain things, after just a few days the "I want Mama!" is drastically reduced and we actually hear "I want Daddy!" sometimes.

All that said, "We'll just cancel Christmas!!" is too extreme and is not related to brushing teeth. This is something to discuss with your husband when he's calm. Help him think of some APPROPRIATE consequences when your son is not cooperating. For example, one that my son hears a lot is, "We need to get your teeth brushed so we can read stories. If we run out of time, we won't get to read."

Quote:
Dh is a "eat it because I put it on your plate" parent. I'm a "ok, you don't want to eat that, what would you like to eat?" parent.
Who's serving the food? If it's you, explain to your husband that you don't mind the extra work and will make sure the food's not wasted, so this is not an issue that harms anyone and you'd like him to calm down about it. But if he's the one serving the food, then your telling your son he can have something else makes more work for your husband, and he has a right to feel annoyed by that.

Think about active listening--both for your husband to be more empathetic to your son, and for you to be more empathetic to your husband: "You sound very upset about the pencil. You want him to start working right now."

Have you looked at Parent Effectiveness Training at all? It's an oldie but goodie.
I like the way it says parents are allowed to have feelings and gives us better ways to express them. Your husband might feel a lot better saying, "I'm very tired. If you keep delaying your homework, I'm afraid I'll have to stay up really late just to get you to bed." and it might be very helpful to your son to know that Dad has a real problem that's being affected by his behavior--rather than feeling like he himself IS Dad's problem.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Quote:

Originally Posted by Violet2 View Post


You know, this could have been me and my DH if not for the fact we had dogs before children. The dogs gave us lots and lots of opportunities to discuss how to handle discipline and it lowered DH's dirt threshold and standards immensely.

Which doesn't help you! But I guess, I would suggest watching the Unconditional Parenting dvd with your DH and see if that sparks proactive conversation. And talk about your values and the best ways to impart them.

I always see your posts and find you to be very intelligent and knowledgeable. I think if you keep trying different ways to connect with DH and open his eyes that you will eventually be successful.

ETA: I see DH is gone quite a bit so it sounds like he is not as connected to the family and may not really understand the developmental ins and outs of his kids. This could be part of the issue as well. I know DH is not as fluent in 'DD' as I am for example and this stymies him sometimes.

V
Thank you for your kind words. We did actually have a dog before children! Didn't help much, though. We argued about the dog.
 
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