Parenting – On Different Pages

Hey, y’all! Welcome back to the craziness that is the blog. I’m glad you’re here!

Awhile back, I talked about some tough truths for parents and briefly alluded to co-parenting challenges. This has been an ongoing challenge for us as a family, and as precious and special as I believe my family to be, I realize that we aren’t so unique that our experiences aren’t relevant to anyone else’s.

Basically, we’re all in this tornado together, y’all.

I’m going to try to approach this with all the grace of a bull in a china closet, but please know that in our family, we are working hard to overcome the differences that we have in regards to raising our girl.

This is just the real truth of it.

I tend to be the rule-maker. I’m usually the disciplinarian, and I’m the entirety of the structure in our kiddo’s life. I implement routines and bedtimes and caps on junk food and limits to how many toys belong on the floor at any given time. I have high expectations for her behavior, even though I adore her with every fiber of my being and strive to pour love into her every single day.

J is a fun dad. He’s absolutely amazing with EV, and the love between them is beautiful and genuine. He’s gentle and patient with her – and also very, very permissive. He’s also been away from home for the vast majority of EV’s life, so when he’s here, he’s all fun, all the time. He doesn’t want her to be mad at him, so it takes a lot for him to say ‘no’ to her.

I mean, it’s pretty hard to look into those big brown eyes and say no, I’ll admit. But it can get out of hand quickly, because our girl ain’t no fool.

Want to stay up until midnight rewatching Encanto for the millionth time? Ok, let’s do it.

A bag of Cheetos for supper? Done.

You’d like to empty your toybox out onto the living room floor? Awesome, let’s go for it.

Feel like wearing a shoe on your head, uncombed hair, and twelve layers of weather-inappropriate clothing? DO IT.

Y’all.

You’ve probably already guessed where this is going. I step in and my reaction is either an immediate ‘what’s going on, we have to stop this now, this is a no, that’s a no, everybody ON THE LINE NOW’ or something more along the lines of ‘I’m done, I’m giving up, and I’m checking out’.

The. STRUGGLE. Baumrind’s work on categorizing types of parenting styles is kind of the ‘gold standard’ for evaluating the parenting dynamic. Basically, there are 4 types of parents: authoritarian, authoritative, permissive, and neglectful (this one was added in the 80s).

If I had to classify my upbringing, I’d say that my dad was more authoritative and my mom was more permissive, but neither were ‘textbook cases’, so to speak. I lean towards balancing high expectations and structure with a lot of love and open dialogue, more like authoritarian parenting. But it’s easy to fall into a more authoritative pattern when I’m stressed, or a more permissive pattern when I’m overwhelmed.

J’s more permissive, with a bent towards authoritarian parenting. He will discipline when it’s absolutely necessary, and he does great with it. He’s firm and loving, and she responds immediately.

(By the way, there’s an online quiz if you’re interested in finding out what kind of parenting style you follow).

As you can probably imagine, this is a huge strain on our relationship as a couple, and within the last year, brought us to a breaking point.

Something. Had. To. Change.

We’re working out our kinks, to be sure, but I’m proud of the effort we’ve made to come together to raise our daughter, even with vastly different personalities and parenting styles. There are a few key things that we’ve implemented that have made a WORLD of difference:

SUPPORT EACH OTHER.

This is critical, y’all. I trust J’s love for our daughter. I know in my heart that he isn’t out to hurt her. So I don’t interfere when he’s disciplining her. I don’t rescue her, I don’t jump in and fight her battle or state her case. Even if I don’t agree – and this one is TOUGH when your baby is being scolded and is dissolving into tears in front of your very eyes – I wait until later to address it. If she tries to escape and come to me for comfort, I reassure her that Daddy and Mommy love her, and she is welcome to come snuggle me after she finishes talking to Daddy. And I count on that same support from her Daddy when the roles are reversed and I’m in the hot seat, administering discipline.

HAVE PRIVATE CONVERSATIONS.

There are times when I’ll circle back to something I disagreed with after EV’s asleep. Not to flog a dead horse, so to speak, but because it strengthens our relationship when we have a better understanding of each others’ hearts. And definitely NOT in the heat of the moment, when the child you’re parenting is listening, watching, and taking notes. It’s especially important to know your partner’s ‘why’. Why did they react like that? Why did they make that parenting decision? Was it something in their past? Something they read an article about? Something they decided spur-of-the-moment? Communicating helps us come to a better understanding of each other, and eventually, a better agreement on how to move forward.

COMPROMISE.

This is a TOUGH one, y‘all. J and I are pretty matched for stubbornness, and it shows in every single disagreement we have. And lucky us, we’re also incredibly different in our personalities, so we’re basically like two mules fighting over a meal pail when it comes to arguments.

Compromise is challenging for us, to say the least. It can often turn into ‘I’m going to argue my point until you give in’, but that, my friends, is not compromise.

Truly, there are things that aren’t as critical as we think they are when we’re in the middle of the verbal battle. It’s important to find the points we do agree on and work from there to find common ground so that we can parent our girl in her best interest.

We’re still learning, y’all, and we have a long way to go. But baby, have we ever come a long way. Ultimately, we’re both committed to doing what is best for our girl, and as long as we’re acting in love and for her best interests, I think we’re going to be ok.

Hope y’all have a wonderful week, friends!

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