I have four kids, but I have to admit: I'm still not totally sure how to discipline them. I'm not a perfect mom, nor would I ever pretend to be, but I am the more sensitive parent and sometimes, it can cause problems. There have been more than a few times when my husband has been disciplining our children and I've felt sorry for them, so I hugged them instead of backing him up. I've been doing this for years, because it's just who I am, but now I fear that my passive parenting is hurting my marriage.
Let me be clear: my kids don't usually cause a lot of trouble, and they certainly don't have behavioral issues. They never get into trouble at school, and I haven't had any real issues with them outside of "normal" kid things, like when they fight over toys or say mean things to each other. Usually, they kiss and make up, and then they go back to playing with each other — problem solved. But if they ever do something more serious, and they need a thorough talking-to, I really don't like to be the one to punish them.
I don't like yelling. I had a rough childhood and I grew up around a lot of yelling, so if I hear someone raising their voice, I take issue with it. My husband is particularly prone to yelling, and when I've tried to talk to him about being stern with our kids versus yelling at them, he thinks that I'm being oversensitive and going too easy on them.
As a sensitive mother to sensitive kids, I can't help but want to coddle them.
My husband also thinks that I could be telling our kids to help around the house a bit more, but it's not like they don't have chores to do: they help me out when I'm in the kitchen, and they help wash baby bottles and entertain their baby brother. Still, once my husband gets home, he's quick to point out if one of my kids forgot to put their shoes away, or if they made a mess of their bedroom. But I just don't like nagging my children and telling them what to do.
My husband and I clash over these things pretty often. We never scream at each other in front of the kids, but there are times when the arguments get really intense. I believe that since I'm the parent who's home with the kids most of the time, I should set the tone for how we discipline them. I've told him that there are times when we're having fun together or watching a movie, and then when he gets home from work, it almost feels like the party's over, because he begins to harangue them about doing their chores.
I can't stand the idea of being the "mean" mother.
I know I should probably try harder to see his point of view, and I do concede that I probably go too easy on my kids. But as a sensitive mother to sensitive kids, I can't help but want to coddle them. And since they are only 10 and 8 and my youngest son is only a few months old, I don't see the harm in it now. When they are older, maybe I'll take a different approach, but I can't stand the idea of being the "mean" mother.
I believe that children should be treated like children, but that we should listen to them and respect their feelings. My husband feels this same way, but when it comes to how we discipline our kids, we both see things quite differently. As we navigate parenthood with these four kids, I know it's inevitable that we'll disagree about some things. But after almost 13 years of marriage, I do think that how we discipline our kids is a legitimate problem that needs to be addressed.