They say opposites attract. Mom and Buried and I aren’t total opposites, but we do have some significant differences. And we definitely parent differently.
On good days, those differences complement each other. On bad days, they cause conflict. When you have a kid who is acting up, and acting out, the bad days become more frequent.
Especially when you don’t always see eye to eye on how to discipline that kid.
Everyone has a different idea of how to properly raise, and effectively discipline, their children. Even, sometimes, spouses.
I know we do.
Mom and Buried is far more patient and understanding with Detective Munch than I am (The Hammer is still too young to be much of a factor.) When he’s at his worst, she is far more likely to give him the benefit of the doubt than I am. I go zero to 60 – or, more accurately since I’m usually already at a simmer, from 40 to 60 – in a hurry. I have my good moments but I have to work harder for them.
I don’t spank my kids, but I will take things away, I will throw them into time-out, and I will yell. A lot. Too much. Probably way too much. She moves more slowly. She has her bad moments, but it takes her a lot longer to get there.
When it comes to discipline, Mom and Buried’s instinct is to rationalize our 7-year-old’s behavior and give him another chance. My instinct is to go harder and to punish more, until he gets the message and we see results.
I’m not sure she’s right. But I’m not sure I’m right either.
Is her leash too long? Is she being too permissive? Is he manipulating her, avoiding consequences, and becoming a spoiled monster? Are my expectations too high? Am I too hard on the kid? Am I scaring him into resenting me and becoming an angry, rebellious punk?
Who knows? We all parent differently and we’re all just throwing stuff at the wall and seeing what sticks, hoping it pays off somewhere down the line.
One thing is for sure: neither approach seems to be generating the results we’re looking for, and our inability to agree on the best tactic often causes problems in our parenting, and in our relationship. We should probably find a way to compromise, for our kids’ sake and our own.
(Ironically, the one way in which Mom and Buried and I are usually aligned may be causing the most damage: We both allow frustration, inconvenience, and the desire for an enjoyable afternoon/evening/weekend to lessen our resolve far too frequently. Sometimes, allowing the kid to watch the movie/have the toy/go to the party we’d threatened to take away is just easier than dealing with three hours of complaining and whining and attitude. But we’re undermining our own authority, and while it makes things easier in the moment, it will probably make things much harder in the future.)
Parenting is stressful AF at the best of times. When the going gets tough, and when spouses parent differently, with clashing styles and philosophies, surviving it gets a lot harder. It’s a lot easier to point fingers when there’s actually something to point at, and the resulting conflict can cause major rifts in a marriage. A house divided can not stand!
But we’re both trying, trying to help our son be better, trying to help ourselves be better, and, perhaps most importantly, trying to help each other be better, compromise, and find more common ground. For the sake of our kids and our marriage.
Being on the same page is only going to get more crucial as our kids get older. Already, Detective Munch plays us against each other! Parent versus kid is hard enough, parent versus kid and parent is a war on two fronts.
Those never end well!