43

My husband and I constantly have communication problem against parenting. Since I posted here last time about the discrepancies of parenting between us, he was so happy that someone said I should not interrupt what he was doing with kids, and always said that I interrupted him now.

I surely agree and try not to intervene his parenting. But I also feel that either he or I have some misunderstanding about interruption/intervention. And as parents, we should learn to improve parenting instead of something like “so what, this is the way I do it, don’t interrupt me”. I’m not sure about other moms, but I really can’t bear hearing our boy crying. Many times as long as my husband was with the boy, I could hear the boy crying and I felt upset. Why would it be my fault that the boy crying with him (because I did in a nice way that the boy likes?)? Why can’t it be him not doing things properly or not really thinking what the boy thinks? Am I really interrupting him?

For example, early this morning, the kids’ school will have Halloween party and I was kind of late to take the boy to school. The boy ate most of the breakfast but I was hoping him eat some fruit too. So I asked my husband giving him some fruit while I can prepare for something else. Very soon after I left to another room, I heard the boy crying. When I came out, the boy said he wanted mommy to sit next to him instead of daddy. So I said, ok, let me handle it then. My husband thinks I was interrupting him. Later on, my husband tried to put shoes on the boy, but the boy resisted, cried, and asked me to put shoes on him instead. So I said, ok, let me put on the shoes and we leave. My husband said I was interrupting him so I didn’t do it. The boy struggled and cried, grabbed the shoes and ran to me asking me to put shoes on him. So I did. Did I really interrupt my husband? I really don’t want to ruin the boy’s mood in the morning. He already doesn’t like the morning drop-off at school, I don’t want to add any more unhappy mood to make it worse. Actually today he did cry sadly when I left the school and I felt my heart was torn apart. Did I do anything wrong? Is it my problem that the boy favours me over his daddy for most of things, brush his teeth, put his shoes on, play with him, put him to sleep, feed him (he can eat by himself but wants to be fed. I have to admit I didn’t do right about his eating habit at the beginning and should really change), take him to washroom, and change his clothes/diapers etc.?

Once when my husband put shoes on for the boy, the back of the shoes got bended in a little bit so the boy complained, but what he said was “it’s fine” and didn’t fix it, so I did. I can’t understand why it’s fine – we adult would feel uncomfortable when the back of the shoes got bended in, while would it be fine for a kid? My husband said that because he himself was spoiled by his mom he doesn’t want the same thing happens to our boy, but this doesn’t mean we can expect the kids to do something that we ourselves don’t like to do or don’t do! We parents should grow up, change ourselves, and play different roles when the life changes too!

I’m really frustrated. Sometimes I even think it would be much simpler taking care of kids by myself alone.

  • 1
    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. Please limit your comments to asking for clarification; don't answer in comments; remember to be nice! – Acire Nov 3 '16 at 10:44
  • How old is the child? – user2338816 Nov 5 '16 at 21:25
  • 2
    I think you need to be clear, both to us and yourself, whether you mean interrupting or undermining. Interrupting might not be so bad -- basically, a "I got this" wave off. That would certainly warrant a discussion with your spouse as to who is going to handle what, but isn't a disaster waiting to happen. Undermining his parenting, reversing his decisons, comforting your child when he has disciplined him, that is a problem just waiting to happen, and it probably won't wait long...which is it? – jmoreno Nov 7 '16 at 1:29

10 Answers 10

147

I was the oldest of six kids. My youngest brother was born when I was 18. By the time I escaped to college, I knew all about babies. I could change a diaper in fifteen seconds flat (well, okay, the really nasty ones took a bit longer :). I knew how to play the "here comes the airplane" game to get a stubborn child to eat his carrots. I could bathe a baby, take a baby's temperature, oil his scalp, assemble a crib or high chair, heat the bottle and test for body temperature on my inner wrist.

But it wasn't until I actually became a mother that I understood the most difficult part of being a mother.

When my daughter was two she tested positive for tuberculosis. The hospital did a chest xray on her. They clamped her between two pieces of plastic so that she couldn't move, so they could take a picture of her lungs. It was the hardest thing I have ever had to do, standing there as she cried, terrified, clamped in that thing, calling out for me, "ma-ma...ma-ma..." and not doing anything but telling her over and over "I'm so sorry little girl, we're almost done, I'm so sorry little girl..."

Before I became a mother I had no idea how unbearable the pain is when we see our babies crying. Or how hard it is to be strong for them when we need to be. But we need to be.

You need to understand that your son is going to pick up on the conflict between you and your husband. I'm sure he knows that it upsets you when he cries, and because of that he is going to cry whenever he is not given what he wants. For the sake of your entire family, do not let this become an ingrained habit.

Though it may seem to you like his tears are a sign of great pain inside him, please understand that children are not like adults. They learn as infants that crying is the tool you use to get what you need.

Or want.

The trick is for you, as the parent, to be able to distinguish real needs from simple desires, and to recognize when his needs are in conflict with his wants.

He is playing you and your husband off against each other, and I'm sorry, this is not what you want to hear, but you are enabling him to do it. Yes, it is your fault that your son prefers you over his father. You are the one who gives him what he wants, whether he should have it or not. You are the one who cannot be firm with him. "Ruining his mood" should not even be a consideration. Understand where the responsibility is...any person, even a child, is responsible for their mood. (In the absence of any real danger or abuse) if they feel unhappy, they have made themselves unhappy. In effect, they are choosing to be unhappy.

There is absolutely no way you can avoid "making" a child unhappy periodically. Children want what they shouldn't have, and don't want what they should have. When they don't get exactly what they want, they are unhappy. This is normal and expected. It is not something you should feel guilty or responsible for. If you do what is best for him and he cries, it is all right to offer some sympathy, but not to allow him to see that it gives him power over you.

You must choose their welfare over your own feelings. In this case, it is your feelings which need to be your focus. The more you allow him to manipulate your feelings, the worse it will get. You husband can be your ally in this...it's okay to use him as a shield sometimes (like when you asked him to feed your son fruit so you didn't have to) but do not ask for his help and then undermine him when your son resists by crying. Bluntly put; he is trying to use you as a tool to avoid obeying his father.

(Please note that I am not advocating ignoring crying children if they are actually in danger or distress; this is clearly not the case here)

But don't overuse this technique, you need to make it clear to your son that no amount of crying or "sadness" will divert you from doing what is best for him. Otherwise he will completely dominate you whenever you do not have your husband's support.

You are the mommy. He is a child. You know what he should do, what is best for him, what is safest. You know what he needs to learn in order to become a responsible, mature adult. Of course he will resist you, with whatever tools he realizes he has. That is why children need parents. Because they do not yet know what you know...how to make good decisions.

Definitely do as anongoodnurse has suggested and read parenting books together with your husband. Discuss techniques to use the advice that you gain from the books. And counseling would be very beneficial if you can afford it. You need to make your husband your partner and ally, not your adversary. Your entire family will benefit or suffer depending on how you handle this situation.

One additional observation; sometimes it might seem simpler to contemplate raising your son without his father's "interference", but just imagine what it would be like living with a child who grows up knowing that he can have anything he wants just by using his own emotional state as a tool. Without your husband as a balancing factor, it can only get worse. Both of you have strengths to bring to your partnership, and both have (often corresponding) weaknesses. Understanding and respecting your partner's strengths, and accepting help in your weaknesses, is what a good counselor can help you both do.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat because of flags raised. If you want to comment - and you don't want your comment removed - please do so in chat. Thanks! – anongoodnurse Nov 7 '16 at 18:00
59

If by interrupting, you mean undermining your husband's parenting, yes, you are doing that. It doesn't mean that your husband is always right or that your approach is wrong; it only means that you disagree on how to handle things and are not making an effort to present a united front to your child.

...we should learn to improve parenting instead of something like “so what, this is the way I do it, don’t interrupt me”.

Absolutely. Your husband should not insist that his way is best simply because you disagree (or "interrupt".)

Who is the "more correct" parent in their approach to a given situation varies, but presenting yourselves as not-united sets up all sorts of opportunities for your child to exploit this (and at 3, a child most certainly can exploit the situation.) And as you have experienced, disagreeing with your partner in front of the child causes problems with the parent as well. So, no one really wins in this situation.

Parenting is difficult under the best circumstances; it becomes incredibly difficult when the parents aren't in agreement in their approaches.

I have not referred to your previous question, so I might be repeating advice you've already been given, so my apologies in advance.

One thing you and your husband might try is to read Parenting books together. You can discuss the principles presented and try to understand the emotions and experiences each of you have that results in your differing approaches. In doing so, and also discussing what you both believe is best for your son, you might be able to anticipate problem scenarios and respond (in agreement) accordingly. This takes a lot of time and effort, but is well worth it.

If you are already to the point of wondering if you should go it alone, then please consider marital counseling. Not only can you discuss your parenting difficulties but your interpersonal ones as well.

  • 3
    present a united front to your child. I have always exactly said this. +1 – aross Nov 3 '16 at 10:30
  • 2
    Parenting got a lot easier when my wife and I figured out how to transition out of "who is more correct" and into "what can we do that is best for our kids." Communication between parents is hard and takes slow, steady progress. – corsiKa Nov 3 '16 at 15:25
  • @corsiKa Unfortunately, best for our kids is too often subjective, and the differing beliefs about it is a primary source of differences in how two parents handle discipline or otherwise interact with their child. The problem is usually that the issue was never clearly agreed upon before a child was born. That is a truly difficult problem to solve, effectively requiring a change in a fundamental part of one parent's personality (or perhaps both parents). – user2338816 Nov 5 '16 at 21:43
24

In addition to the other excellent answers about your son playing you off each other, I wanted to add one thing. If you're like a lot of families, one parent spends a lot more time taking care of the child than the other. I'm assuming that's you. Because of that time discrepancy, your husband is just plain not going to be as good at doing care giving things as you are, but it's clear he is trying, and he needs some space to make mistakes, just like you have.

How would you feel if some supermom with way more experience than you swooped in and took over every time your son showed the least bit of discomfort? That's how your husband is feeling right now. Every time you think about correcting his parenting, think about the last time a "supermom" corrected yours. Yes, there's no harm in babying your baby, but there's no harm in letting things slide for the sake of someone's pride either.

  • Thank you Karl. Yes, I'm the one taking care of the child most of the time. It's not I didn't let my husband do the work or blame him for what he did (probably i did but i was not aware of). But he is a person that doesn't see things to do. I'm not a supermom and I hope him could help and involve more. I'm seeing him improving. But as he admitted that he was spoiled it's not that easy. – techmom Nov 1 '16 at 16:04
  • "there's no harm in babying your baby" Really? wait and see. – Elder Geek Nov 5 '16 at 20:48
7

You have a different approach to the parenting than your husband. Your kid's response is different too. The question is why.

Discussing the parenting in front of the child is bad. Do not underestimate kids, they can find weak points and they can and will exploit them.

When he is in school, sit down with your husband and discuss calmly what is going on. Why is the boy crying when your husband is in charge and why he is not when you are in charge? Is his approach better than yours? Favoured does not mean good. For example, if you tie the laces for him and your husband wants him to tie them, what is better?

Find all differences between your and your husband's approach and agree on one. In some cases you have to leave your approach, in some cases he must leave his. And follow those rules as firm as possible. If anyone of you break the rule, try to keep a poker face and discuss it later in private.

  • " if you tie the laces for him and your husband wants him to tie them, what is better?" I guess that depends on whether you want the boy to be able to tie his own shoes! ;-) – Elder Geek Nov 5 '16 at 20:51
6

As far as parenting goes, mistakes happen, children will be awkward about things, and children will cry for trivial reasons. It's what happens. If you're given a chance, you learn from your mistakes, and you learn how to handle an awkward child.

The moment you used the word "fault" though, you indicated how you're thinking about this. Mistakes happen, children are awkward, and children cry. It isn't either person's fault, it's just one of those things. If you're looking for fault then you'll find it, usually with the other person. If you think hearing your child cry is tearing your heart out though, consider how your husband feels when he hears his child cry and then you tell him it's his fault for doing things wrong and you would rather he wasn't involved! The end result is divorce, if you're lucky.

In my own case, having been continually told that I was doing things wrong and even that I was endangering my son (which in hindsight was untrue), the result for me was clinical depression and serious preparations for suicide. It seemed a perfectly logical solution - if I'm a threat to my son then I shouldn't exist. I hadn't considered that the reason my ex-wife behaved like that was that she actually did not like or respect me, something she admitted later. Luckily the pills worked, so I'm still here.

That's not to say that you can't discuss stuff, and that you should give in to him if you think he's wrong about something important. The time to talk about it is absolutely not at the time the child is crying and you're both stressed though. Unless you can take the emotions out of it, you don't have a chance to discuss it rationally, and unless you can discuss it rationally then your relationship is unlikely to survive.

As far as "I want mommy/daddy to do it" goes, he doesn't get to decide that. He can ask, sure. But if mommy/daddy says no then he doesn't get it.

3

I think you guys should find a happy medium. You sound so much like my wife and I where she is the comforting type and I take the hard line on life. I go by the philosophy that parents should teach kids the skills to survive on their own. But there are limits to things a child can do own their own at their age too. If your child is experiencing discomfort with his shoes and can't resolve it on his own, you should step in to help when he asks. But other things like eating, he should do it without help. Decide with your husband on issues you disagree on before hand with your husband and set a clear expectation. Then bring these expectations to the child on a united front so he's not confused or given the opportunity to exploit it.

  • Thanks Tuan. I agree my husband and I should discuss things before hand. – techmom Nov 1 '16 at 16:09
3

You can't directly change anyone but yourself. In these situations, ask yourself what you could do differently that would have made things better.

In your primary example, it sounds like what you could have done differently was not to be late to take the kid to school. Your being late - then insisting on the fruit - resulted in a rushed morning, your husband putting shoes on the kid, the kid crying, etc.

So, when you are late, you can't insist on your normal routine. If your husband is taking care of the morning routine, you have to let him decide whether to skip the fruit, force the kid into shoes against his will, etc. Don't make suggestions and don't interfere. When the kid comes running to you, you can tell him, "sorry, but we're running late, so daddy has to put on your shoes".

And when you have to listen to the crying, make sure you say to yourself, "I have to listen to the crying because I was late. I won't be late next time." Don't blame your husband for helping you out.

Now, there is something you may be able to do about the shoes, but only if you are patient. Let your husband do it his way. Let the kid cry. Wait until your husband remarks how hard it is to get the kid into his shoes. Then sympathize, saying, "yes, he's very difficult with the shoes - I have trouble too". Then, and only then, you can say "I have found that it's a little easier if I make sure the shoes aren't bent in at the back."

  • 3
    "can't directly change anyone but yourself" -- this is true, but there are certainly ways to have discussions about different approaches and reach a compromise solution in which everyone is happy. This is especially important in parenting. – Acire Nov 1 '16 at 12:07
  • Thanks Warren. I didn't want to skip the morning fruit is because our boy has constipation problem and needs fruits/vegi. But you are right, I could skip other things. I surely have to change myself but also hope my husband can sees himself too. I'll ask him to visit the post. – techmom Nov 1 '16 at 16:14
  • @Erica Exactly why I suggested a way having a discussion in this case that might work - by waiting until an appropriate time and handling the discussion in an appropriate way. – Warren Dew Nov 1 '16 at 17:51
2

Here's an idea that my wife and I came up with to try and prevent interrupting one another when parenting. (Although we talk a lot in the evenings and try to agree an approach together ahead of time, it's not possible to predict everything, so disagreements can still happen.)

We use an imaginary "baton", like one used in a relay race.

The person currently in control of the parenting has the baton.

Requesting control: say I'm helping our child with a task, but things aren't going well. My wife has an idea – but instead of interrupting me verbally, she catches my eye (out of sight of the child), raises her eyebrows and holds up an open hand, requesting the imaginary baton. If I agree, I mime handing it to her, and she's free to go ahead with her idea. If instead I'm thinking "No, I've got this", I shake my head, she doesn't interrupt, and we talk through the situation later.

Give control: say I'm helping our child, but I'm getting pretty exasperated and risk losing my temper. I can catch my wife's eye and hand my hand up, as if offering her the baton. If she's in a calmer state of mind, she can take it, or shake her head.

This makes it clear to both of us who is making the decisions, so we don't clash, and there's a process for handing over control, with agreement on both sides.

2

I'd suggest you step back and take a look at the examples you gave.

1) Was there something that your husband was doing that caused your child physical or emotional pain?

2) Was your husband doing something that was wrong?

3) Was your husband doing something that you even disagreed with?

4) Was your child acting out to manipulate and control your behavior?

Yes, he should have fixed the shoes when they weren't on completely right, but part of his resistance is that you intervene all the time. Probably, if you did not do so, then on the occasions where something is off, he will not react defensively. Realize that fathers are as much parents as mothers, and being one vs the other does not automatically make one more likely to be right or wrong. Take each situation on its own merit.

You wanted your husband to feed your child, and get him ready for school. He was doing so. He was doing so in the exact same way you were going to do so when your child started crying.

Your child has learned that by acting out, he can demand and control your attention whenever he wants. You are encouraging and enabling that behavior. In other words, you are spoiling your child and allowing him to manipulate your behavior.

It's not a conscious "I'm a wicked child and I'm in charge" thing. Children, like everyone else, want attention. And what attention could be better than attention from a loving mom? Like everyone else, they prefer control. However, they are children and need to be not indulged at their whims, just for the sake of their whims.

I understand from the earlier post that your husband tends to want to allow your child to even encounter and deal with even physical pain to "toughen him up," and I'd agree that parents have to have boundaries in their parenting behavior, as well, so I'm not siding with him, as a blanket statement.

Sitting with the child to indulge demands for attention, alone, does not fall under that category, though. What it tough for parents to eventually learn is that children cry, often quite easily. I've seen kids who fake cry to get attention, very obviously, and when it doesn't work for them, they can shut the fake-crying off, as they started it, like a faucet, and go about their business of playing with the other kids.

While you are genetically wired to be distressed by this, as an adult, you need to override your instincts and realize, with your rational brain, that not all cries are actual distress that need intervention, and that it's okay for kids to cry or work out the distress. It's part of the growing process.

1

The intervention, whether it's real or not, is not your main problem. The real problem is the boy prefers you over his dad and has issues accepting him as his parent. I suspect the parenting between the two of you is inconsistent in such a degree the boy favours the one he thinks he benefits most from.

I agree with the first part of anongoodnurse's answer, especially the part about being a united front. Your boy is (ab)using the fact the two of you are not united.

How much feedback do you and your partner give each other on parenting? Compliment each other with the parts you both agree on both to ease the situation you're currently in and to help each other understand what parts you agree upon and which not. This will make it easier to appear united in later situations.

protected by Community Nov 2 '16 at 7:59

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.