I’ll admit it; I want to be the fun one. I want to be that parent I think my kids crave. The one who will shower them with gluttonous gifts they don’t need (or even ask for) who lets them spoon Nutella out of the jar and stay up past their bedtime to watch the newest Disney channel episode. When it comes to raising and disciplining my kids I am hungry for their approval, as my husband who could not be more my polar opposite, has said to me repeatedly.
Fifteen years my senior, my husband is born of the school of hard knocks. He believes kids don’t need to be coddled, bedtimes should be adhered to and sweets limited to special occasions. While I agree with him on some points I’m also convinced our diametrically opposing views, when it comes to indulging our kids, is a direct product of our childhoods.
Just months ago, when asking him to buy an air condition for our son’s bedroom, I caught a glimpse into his childhood. Apparently his parents were the only ones who had air condition in their bedroom, while he and his siblings were relegated to spend the bulk of their 1960’s childhood sweating it out. When I heard this omission from him to say I was shocked would be an understatement- and initially equated his experience with near child abuse-. As a child of the 80’s, when big hair, shoulder pads and excess were king-my parents made sure my sisters and I slept in air conditioned rooms with the covers pulled close to our chins, the air was so cold.
While I couldn’t fathom putting my comfort before my kids’, my husband sees nothing wrong with the fact that his parents met their needs before that of their kids and thought of their own comfort while their kids sweated it out. In fact he believes my desire to please and befriend our kids is indeed my fatal flaw and something I need to reconcile.
He and I have clearly delineated our roles, I’m the good cop and he’s the bad cop. However, as my kids are getting older and the time-outs and their sneaky behaviors are becoming more frequent I’m beginning to question the role I have chosen. In fact, there have been one too many instances where my husband will tell my daughter no, and then looking into her doe eyes, my heart feels this tug to make it all better and to earn her approval. So, I do something no spouse should, I override his decision.
Sure in the short term it seems like a good idea, but I’ve come to the conclusion that not functioning as a united front with my husband might have my kids feeling confused and insecure.
Ultimately I worry I’m not modeling a healthy view of marriage for them. I also know that indulging their every whim is fulfilling a selfish need of mine- and it’s not great parenting on my part. So my husband and I are trying to find our middle ground; a parenting balance and style that will suit us both and I’ll be honest it’s an ongoing process we need to revisit as we tackle each day with our kids.