thread: How do you reconcile different parenting styles?

  1. #1
    Registered User

    Dec 2007

    Question How do you reconcile different parenting styles?

    DH never wanted kids. I knew that and made the decision no tot have them, and be with him instead.

    Then I fell pregnant with DD.

    and he ADORES her, loves her to bits, and there was NEVER a day he didn't want her once we knew I was pregnant.

    So, suffice it to say, we never had discussions on parenting, aside form the usual theoretical conversations... We never decided we would have kids and were on the same page with how we wanted to raise them, etc.

    We did have some discussions when I was pregnant, and I thought we were on the same page. Well, we were. Then I found BB and actually HAD a baby and have done some serious reflection on how my family is what caused us to be like we are ad what traits I do and don't want DD to have, and how to achieve this. And how many different ways there are to achieve a healthy happy well adjusted child and adult.

    Now that DD is almost 18 months - waling talking, generally being destructive lol - DH and I seem to be at almost polar opposites with so many aspects of parenting.

    I don't wan to go into too much detail, because I don't wan this to become an attack or debate on any specific style or actions, just interested in how you reconcile and solve different parenting styles between you and your partner...

    It seems that this would maybe be more relevant to couples who had unplanned children as we did, as I always thought if I was with someone who wanted kids, with whom I had planned "that" life then it would have been something that was considered and discussed in much more detail before deciding to take the plunge iykwim....

    For example, DH will NOT get up in the night for Charlotte anymore (unless of course is is obviously hysterical) - says she is consciously manipulating me to get me in there, that she is or should be quite capable os self-soothing and going back to sleep - so steadfastly refuses to go in there. (she usually wakes only 1-2 times a ngith unless teething, many nights not at all)
    Even though most of the time she has had a bad dream or turned and rolled into the side of the cot and scared the crap out of herself and requires a quick cuddle, or a drink of water, and she nods off again within 3 minutes, back to bed, no worries.
    I have discovered that I have a real gut reaction to NOT let her cry in the middle of the night until she goes back t sleep.
    This has led to sooo many fights at the moment. Most ending in me getting very upset, him refusing to even THINK there may be another way than letting her cry, and me insisting that she is ONE YEAR OLD WHAT THE HELL DOES HE EXPECT HER TO DO??
    I get very upset at his inability to even look for another alternative to doing something I am uncomfortable with.

    His response is "I'll do it my way, you do it your way when you are with her"
    Which I think is the most petty and confusing thing possible for Charlotte.

    I really would like to know a way that we can come to some sort of understanding about these things. I know I frustrate him with the way I do things too, and I am still trying to find a middle ground, he is just so pig headed!

    This is really becoming a MASSIVE strain on our relationship at the moment, and I don't like where I see it headed...

    Help anyone!!

  2. #2
    Registered User
    Follow Pandora On Twitter

    Jan 2005

    I dont have much in the way of advice except to say Im in a similar situation of having a very different parenting style to DH, and he seems to think thats OK.
    Recently i have made inroads on some of it though, when I asked him if it would be ok for daycare to do XYZ, and he said no way..but he was doing it..i think that gave him some perspective..
    Sorry Im not more help but wanted to give you and know that someone else out there feels your pain

  3. #3
    Lucy in the sky with diamonds.

    Jan 2005
    Funky Town, Vic

    Planned baby or no, different parenting styles can be HARD to deal with.

    I parent with dp separately. Its the only way I can handle it. I've known him years and DS was planned but .....

  4. #4
    Registered User

    Jan 2006

    The look of death works well in this house. Or I insist DH lives up to the standards he has for DS.

    We have differences very rarely, because we've fallen into the same parenting style: I did it all for a year, DH saw it worked quite well, so does similar things. Like we tell DS what's going on, if we tell him we'll do XYZ then we stick to it, that sort of thing. Night waking is the hardest, but we agree that DS screaming for a half-hour means less sleep than him being awake for 2 minutes. I do all the night wakings so DH doesn't mind: DH also gets up with DS if I've had a really bad night. But DH sleeps through so he doesn't mind.

    Maybe you could get your DH some earplugs and just deal with the night wakings yourself? I know it's not "fair" but it's how to get your own way.

  5. #5
    Registered User
    Add fionas on Facebook

    Apr 2007
    Recently treechanged to Woodend, VIC

    It sounds like you have a different outlook on WHY DD does certain things. One is waking up in the night - you think it's because she's scared and he thinks it's because she's manipulating you.

    We were at the park today and DD screamed for 15 minutes when it was time to get off the swing. Now I see that as DD being very determined - I'm sure other people would see DD as being 'bad' or 'spoilt'. Luckily, DP thinks the same way I do - it would be extremely difficult if he didn't and wanted to smack her, for example. Instead, we just roll our eyes, laugh and tell the other aghast parents, "yeah, she hasn't cottoned on to the concept of sharing yet."

    So I think you have two options.

    1. Handle all the nightwakings yourself as well as dealing with the other issues (and I'm guessing maybe they're tantrums etc) your way and taking on the bulk of the parenting yourself. Or

    2. Try to persuade him around to your feelings on WHY DD behaves in a certain way - which I'm sure is totally normal you just have different perspectives. Maybe get him a book to read about the stuff that resonates for you.

    And yeah, it's easy to think that when parents plan babies they also talk about how that child will be parented but I don't think many people talk about it that much. We all make it up as we go along and we're never really sure how we'll parent until it actually happens.

    Good luck - I hope the two of you can talk about it more together and find some common ground.

  6. #6
    BellyBelly Life Member - Love all your MCN friends
    Add Gigi on Facebook

    Jun 2004
    The Festival State

    i am having some fundamental differences of opinion with bilby's dad too

    real day to day stuff

    e.g it's taken me three years to convince him it's important to have a table to eat at, to teach her table manners, etc.

    he thought it was acceptable to eat on trays, on our laps in front of tv, forever.

    i think we should sit at the table together, eat together, share our days event with each other.

    there are gazillions of other situations we are also stalemate about - i think one way, he thinks the opposite.

    if i could move out and start living as a single mum with bilby, i would.

    it's been a shock to me, that he can't put her first, like i want to.

  7. #7
    Registered User

    Apr 2008
    Home, where else??

    All I can suggest is ask him to schedule a time with you to talk. Make a list so you can discuss it without getting too emotional. Tell him that you are scared that it may have a detrimental affect on your relationship if you don't get it sorted out.

    If he balks, ask why. If he loves DD so much, why would he not want to ease the conflict caused by the different styles?

    Definitely acknowledge he is a good dad but stress that the BOTH of you need to refine your parenting techniques so you can get consistency for DD. After all, consistency will make her behaviour easier to handle (hopefully) as SHE will then know what to expect.

  8. #8
    Registered User

    Feb 2009

    I am going to have to veer in adifferent direction here and say - I put my foot down. It's not a computer that doesn't care if you negotiate who does what, when. They are people! Little people!

    If my DH said that to me, I'd tell him to march his truby ass back to bed and jam his head up it. I am not leaving my baby crying needlessly because some kiwi 50 years ago wrote a flawed opinion that somehow, babies are capable of manipulation! And stop watching reality shows.

    But thats just me. *ahem*.

    I'd ask for proof that 12mo's are capable of manipulation. Keep him busy for years.

    Ok, so I am not really being very helpful - but don't feel bad sticking to your guns. You are talking about a little girl here.

  9. #9
    Platinum Member. Love a friend xxx

    Jan 2008
    hoppers crossing

    my Ds is 2.5 yrs old and its taken me and my DH a yr to finally find a routine we BOTH agree on. We have our diff ways but they are based around the same concept. You're DH needs a lesson in equal responsibility.

  10. #10
    Registered User

    Jan 2006

    It sounds like your DH has a "theory" in his head about parenting and thinks that his "theory" is better than yours. I have never been able to convince anyone that my personal theory on anything in life is better than theirs without first appealing to some external thing or point of reference.

    For this reason, I strongly suggest that you get your hands on a parenting book that does not subscribe to any one particular "theory" but instead sets out the facts. I am particularly thinking about "The Science of Parenting" (there have been threads and recommendations about it in Bellybelly). It talks about different development stages and issues without any emotional bent and presents hard, proven, scientific "facts" which most blokes can agree with. But basically it is a "gentle parenting" type book without being obviously so, because it says things like "if you let a child cry, studies have shown that chemical X builds up in thir brain and because their hypothalamus/frontal lobe/whatever isn't developed they cannot process the emotion" etc.

    My DH and I have different "styles" and dare I say internal theories than govern our approaches to situations. But whenever I bring out the "science of parenting" book it trumps any argument about "what is best".

    (That said, I do think that The Science of Parenting can make you a little freaked out about how you are raising your child and like to read Elizabeth Pantley as my own personal antidote - Pantley says things like "so long as you are doing the right thing 70% of the time your child will turn out ok". The Science of Parenting can sometimes make you feel that every unanswered cry is in danger of turning your child into an emotional cripple.)

    Hope this helps

  11. #11
    Registered User

    Jul 2005
    Rural NSW

    Excellent advice Rory.... I was going to suggest exactly the same book (The Science of Parenting).

    Regarding the overall issue of having differing parenting styles: Yes, it's hard... this is basically the only issue my DH vehemnetly disagree about as well. I don't think it really matters whether a child is planned or not... however our first child wasn't planned... and I guess if you had asked me 15 years ago if I thought DH was going to be good parenting material I would have had my reservations but on the whole even though we disagree we still respect each other and I think that is the key.... and at least I know DH actually wants to be a good dad. Good intention does count If he didn't seem to care then I would worry... and remove the children from his sphere of influence.

    From the child's perspective it doesn't really matter if you differ. Kids are adaptable... they adapt to differences with grandparents, childcare workers, teachers etc etc so it really won't confuse them as much as you fear. I agree that it does help if you and your partner can be united... but it's not vital to raising a well adjusted child.

    My personal solution to the issues DH and I have is to first try to stay calm. I have learnt that getting overly emotional about it (raising yor voice etc) achieves absolutely nothing and frequently makes it worse. I also ask that DH remain calm. I try to choose a time to talk about it that isn't in the middle of the night or when we are both tired (hard, I agree, sometimes) and when i raise an issue I try to keep it very basic. I don't raise too many issues.... I find that it's a huge achievement to at least agree on one thing and have learnt not to "push it". I find that talking about our own childhoods often is a good intro into a tricky discussion.... gets the conversation going.

    For me the priority now is to maintain my own personal standards. I used to get so demoralised (and afraid) of DH's/my parenting inconsistencies that I used to use DH's behaviour as an excuse for my own poor behaviour: eg. arguing to the point of shouting infront of our children... which probably did more damage than the particular inconsistency in question IYKWIM.

    Rory's Pantley comment was also very true: you don't have to be a perfect parent ALL of the time.... or perfectly consistent... 70% should be more than enough. I have heard that the best parents are often those that introduce a bit of ambiguity into their children's lives.... makes them more resilient. And finally, one thing I have become very good at is being humble. If you try to parent from a place of pride you are bound to have serious issues. It's ok not to have all the answers... it's ok to make mistakes... removing the pressure is half the battle.... tell your partner that you don't have all the answers because nobody does when it comes to children... it's folly to pretend that you do! And if you make a mistake then at least you have an opportunity to show them that you are sorry. I was raised by parents who never admitted that they were wrong or ever said sorry. As a child that hurt more than ANYTHING. But how good is it that I have the awareness not to repeat that mistake... I think that if I can continue to have the kind of relationship with my children that includes the ability to apologise then hopefully this will over-ride all the mistakes I am bound to make along the way.

  12. #12
    Registered User

    Apr 2008
    The Purple House, Sydney

    Hi Lime,

    I completley understand where you are coming from. We are in the exact same situation here. I'm trying to look at it as just one of those issues that come up and require some kind of compromise, one way or another.

    My dh has softened his stance on crying as ds has gotten older and I've bombarded with facts, theories and ds's emotional perspective on him. We've reached a point where we do have some understanding of each other and what is acceptable to each other, and to ds. Sometimes I still have pull dh up and go'How could do that?' But I try to remember that a lot of that stems from his mum raised him, and that sometimes I just have to step in a nd remind him of the softer, gentler, more emotional side of it.

    There are still some things we do differently, and that does worry me a bit in terms of consistency with ds. But soemthing that made me feel better was the view of consistency presented in Sarah Buckley's Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering book- she basically says that total consistency is not always possible, especially in different situations and with different carers, and that is ok- we should gives kids enough credit to realise that they are capable of understanding that different rules apply at different times, or with different people.

    A bit of a ramble But I hope it helps a little.

  13. #13
    Registered User

    Jan 2006

    I will add that in the middle of the night, DH sees DS as being mean to us or that he has to grow out of wanting us there... in the morning he'll cuddle up with DS and ask him "What was wrong last night? How can we make it better?" - he acknowledges that it's not manipulation and that DS has a problem with something. Being up all night isn't the best time to show that side, not for DH anyway. I rarely lose my rag in the night wakings, but instead getting up or going to bed; DH can't understand that. But I'm meant to understand him at 3am, of course.

    As for consistency - DS has learnt that "no, darling" means "keep on doing it and I'll remove you and distract you" whereas "Liebling, no. I mean it. NO!" means stop it or Mammy will explode. After a 2-minute cry (won't say from whom) DS wanders off and plays, letting me be a maniac getting three people ready for the day in a half-hour.