Parenting is hard enough, let alone if you don’t agree with your partner’s parenting discipline. Maybe your parenting partner is a yeller and uses fear tactics, and you’re into a more gentle approach. That can be mortifying and difficult to navigate and can cause unnecessary heartache. In any household whose parents are wanting the same goal above all – love for their child – there’s space to learn, grow and change. I think a good start is with education and extra sparkly communication.
WHY SHOULD I CARE ABOUT HOW I PARENT?
Have you ever noticed in documentaries (from success stories to not so successful…yikes…) or in your cosmo magazine personality quiz results, the results most often come down to one’s upbringing? There usually seems to be a narrative about the parents – their presence, their encouragement, their behaviors through conflict, etc. I have always found It fascinating and have done a lot of digging into the psychology of parenting and how it affects us. How early childhood is basically what molds you; your attachments, your capabilities, emotional intelligence, your success, and so forth.
Before even becoming a mom myself, I knew I had a lot of healing to do from the parenting I received because of how I managed my relationships, my fears, and my abandonment issues. I was missing important tools to navigate painful triggers or situations. My parents did their best, but all of this made me realize how important and impactful parenting is. My therapists made it very clear when retracing certain aspects of my upbringing that I would’ve never made connections to in my adult life…but here I am, connecting the dots. No matter how uncomfortable it might be, it’s a good path to be on.
WHY SHOULD YOU HAVE AN IDEA OF HOW YOU WANT TO PARENT?
I am not going to tell you how to parent and what you should or shouldn’t do because that is not my place and I’m going to stay in my lane (and vice versa). We all do what works for US! Following the motto of The Mommy Codes, take what works for YOU, and leave the fluff behind. With that said, here’s my overall take:
To guide yourself in what feels right to YOU, I’d suggest educating yourself on the psychology and developmental impacts that parenting has on your child. It’s straightforward. There are tons of books, podcasts, documentaries, and studies that are catered to every kind of parenting style out there. Whatever method you decide works for you, learn and know the impact it has on yourself and your little children; not only how it may impact tomorrow, but also in 20 or 40 years from now. What guides us in our soul searching process, is understanding what didn’t work for us from the parenting that we received ourselves. It can be very small things or big things. Keep the methods that work for you and your family, toss out what doesn’t, and don’t be afraid to add your own new approaches. Then, PRACTICE! Practice your parenting. We’re all students.
BUT CHILDREN CAN DRIVE ME CRAZY!
Parenting for some of us is daunting, hard and triggering at times and we feel helpless – but why? Why have I felt like this too? I believe that some of my worst ‘hair-pulling’ moments were not my child ‘inflicting’ them on me, but were more related to my own loaded bags of big feelings, fears, and painful memories. Situations that mirrored ones that I had with my own parents, and subconscious triggers that were being tested in those interactions. Let alone, being exhausted and at your wits’ ends sometimes too.
I quickly understood that learning about children’s brains and why they do what they do was so HELPFUL and that I had to re-parent myself, I took it as an OPPORTUNITY. What a teaching moment! This is not Oliver doing this to me – he is learning, he is a child. How his actions make me feel is up to me to redirect for the both of us to heal and give the best that I can to resolve this moment for a win-win child/parent interaction.
I KNOW HOW I WANT TO PARENT, BUT MY PARTNER IS GOING A WHOLE DIFFERENT ROUTE. NOW WHAT?
Once you’ve made the decision of how you’d ideally want to parent in the long run, you can be faced with a partner who doesn’t agree or hasn’t even really thought about it. It can be explosive, confusing, shameful, and overall not great vibes for anyone.
Here are 5 ways to navigate this common scenario:
- BELIEVE that your partner is doing their best and release any judgment towards them.
- COMMUNICATE – casually and seriously! If it is really hard to break certain barriers, a third party is always a good idea! Kyle and I have done therapy, but what we benefited from the most was Mediation (not mediTation) – it’s a mediator that takes both sides and guides you to powerful advice that feels balanced.
- EDUCATE, Talk to your partner about what you are learning, share the wealth of knowledge! Share the ‘why’ and ‘what’ that you believe in. Don’t forget to ask about their ‘whys’ and their beliefs too. It’s an exchange and it’s also a way to magnify the understanding of your mutual impact.
- STICK TO WHAT YOU TRUST. Keep up with YOUR desires and parenting tactics that you know work for you and your child. It’s also completely common for two parents to parent differently and children thrive through understanding different authorities! Molding these two perspectives together is great – that’s when you share your ideas and agree on your roles at home.
- BOUNDARIES AND LIMITATIONS. What can also help to find a balance between you and your partner doing things differently, is also setting clear NO-NOs. If spanking, yelling, or shaming are off-limits, make that super clear and back this up with why you think these actions are not something you’d like at home.
WHAT IS OUR APPROACH AND HOW WE APPLIED IT?
Kyle and I are both into gentle parenting and positive parenting – so rarely ever yelling, no fear tactics, no bribing, no hitting, etc…really engaging in communication, extensive explanations, and most of all understanding the psychology behind small children. We had to share with each other many articles, books, studies to get to this understanding, applying and reprogramming our own brains. We also have one of us that’s of course « an enforcer » but within the same approach.
It’s not always easy. We have both made a huge effort to get through all the steps I just mentioned. To realize these things are part of our own healing was the key. We didn’t just arrive at this stage without disagreement, without telling one another “You’re wrong!” Without shaming one another that we’re too soft, or “messing up our child,” wondering sometimes “what the hell are we doing?“
It challenged us to change our communication, respecting each other, and the knowledge we gained was not just for our relationship with our child and his with us, but other relationships in our lives, especially the one with ourselves. It felt good, and it made us happy as a whole. Most importantly, when you start seeing patterns that work for your child as you practice and adapt to different stages of their life, it is incredibly rewarding.