Tuesday, August 5, 2014

When Dad says no go ask Mom?


 I know that there are couples that seem to agree on everything - but most of us, well we are not that couple.  That couple I bet do not ever disagree on parenting.  This is one of those topics where people either sigh and nod or proclaim with slight annoyance that this never happens to them. Most of us who have children together have the same ideas about the big things in parenting - or so we think because most people probably do not have long discussions about this until they are in the midst of it.  In our lives where the time for sit down, lengthy communication now has being interrupted by busy schedules and actual parenting what happens when you and the other parent disagree?  I was always of the mantra of a united front - then we can discuss how my husband did something I disagreed with (yes that only works one way because I am a total geek when it comes to parenting too - I ask for advice from my fellow moms, read psych topics on it, books and listen to my inner gut on what I hated as a kid and what I may have not liked but was great to have - he flies by the seat of his pants - didn't say it was wrong just that I disagreed with it). However, the united front was easier as the kids were younger.  Recently I find myself harder to hold back as the boys edge toward become more independent and our rules are less about potty time and more about pre-teen discussions.  It is that I am working with their growth and new needs and like a lot of men he is working to be in control -- I said many, not all men.

Is it that like my own father the kids impending independence and coming teens are met with some unconscious dread so my husband is going to "set the law"?  Is it that he is establishing dominance as they get bigger because they question it?  It is hard, for myself too, to get questioned about so many things you ask from your kids or say no to them for but for me the constant negotiation is when to say yes to foster that independence and when to lead them like it or not to good choices and better decision making.  Kids have a way of getting, not the right choice always, what they want when they sense division in parents - I know from my own experiences, went to the one that was likely to say yes so they could help disarm the one that was going to say no.   So as my sons push those limits and become more of the people they want to be I figure I like what I see and for those things where I need to be the decision maker I will be.  It has to be right for them and not right for my own validation that I am "in charge".  I have told my sons that I am not their friend - yet - that I am their parent and that means that there are choices I will make for them that will make me unpopular now and if those choices will be appreciated later when they are adults and when we will be friends.

The goal we have as parents is to make the kids the best adults they can be, successful and happy in that success, financially independent to be able to have those things in life that balance the stress of working, and good people.  We also have to model for them - so as a woman I want them to see me as an equal decision maker in the house - a partner - for that is what I want them to be with women in their future.  I am not the one that is the afterthought or always the pushover --- but an equal partner.  Our decisions have to be joint and if one of us is not comfortable then that is up to us to let the kids know that we may need to discuss further.  The things we say and the way we say them are the foundations of those adults we want our kids to be and how they treat others and themselves.

So what's the answer?  What happens when you ask Mom and she wants to say yes and the other parent doesn't? What do you do if your partner yells or says something that makes you cringe ? Maybe the best way for us to teach our children how to handle that difference, for they will encounter this situation in many ways in life, is to take a deep breath and address it in a productive way.  I have apologized to my kids if I thought I lost it for something I should not have - how else will they learn to do that when they are wrong - most of all I have learned that their trust is really all both parents need and that is something we cannot disagree on ever.



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