‘Now that our kid isn’t a baby anymore, my wife and I can’t agree on basic parenting’

A husband and wife can’t seem to get on the same page when it comes to their parenting styles and choices.

Posting to the Subreddit r/Parenting, the dad explained their dilemma.

“[My] wife and I have a 3-year-old daughter. She’s a typical 3-year-old, dealing with all the developmental ups and downs of that stage. She’s in daycare, forming her first non-child/adult relationships, discovering her sense of independence and identity, etc.

“We are both self-employed and share parenting/household duties 50/50.

“Here’s the issue:

“[My] wife thinks [our] kid should do what [my] wife wants, and if she doesn’t, [my] wife will get her way anyway because she’s the parent and not everything is up for debate. When [my] wife spends time with [our] kid, I notice [our] kid cries a lot more, is a lot more upset, has more meltdowns and downward spirals, etc. Her style of parenting is also a lot more ‘intuitive,’ as in she does what ‘feels’ right in the moment. [My] wife claims to be the more nurturing and maternal parent.

“Me: probably as a result of childhood trauma, [I try] super hard to make [our] kid feel like she has a sense of control over her own destiny and can make choices herself. [Our] kid rarely cries or is upset — she’s cuddly and giggly and acts up a lot less with me. I have to say, I’m also more permissive than my wife. I read a lot about child development, and I also do 90% of the cooking and food shopping for us and [our] kid, so I slip her a gummy bear or a cookie from time to time when I know she’s otherwise had a well-balanced diet throughout the day. Or I let her watch a cartoon while I make food or let her stay in the bathtub a little bit longer, etc. It’s a lot more give and take with me — [the] kid and I negotiate and discuss a lot more.

“This has led to the kid preferring me over her mom in almost every way. Who puts her to bed, who spends time with her, who drops her off and picks her up from daycare, who goes to the playground with her, etc. My wife is upset and accuses me of doing [our] kid a disservice through my parenting style.

“How do I communicate to my wife that she needs to start respecting our daughter’s own mind a little more and invest more time and patience into actually engaging with our kid instead? Stop with the confrontational attitude and stop making everything a power struggle instead of a dialogue.

“When I speak to her about it, she gets defensive and always makes it about my delivery rather than the content of what I’m saying. It’s convenient because while I maintain a respectful language, I am very direct in my feedback and don’t sugarcoat, and I am angry and upset at the insensitivity of my wife. So she gets mad at me and dismisses what I say because she doesn’t like the tone.

“What do I do here? It’s a cycle, and every fight about it gets worse.”

According to psychotherapist Debbie Opoku, the answer to compromise could lie in parents’ pasts.

“I always advise taking a look back at your own childhood and how you were raised,” Opoku says. “A greater understanding of you and your partner’s backgrounds can lead to conversations that will help you both identify and understand how each of you was parented, what you liked and didn’t like about the way your parents dealt with you, and then compromise on how you will parent your own children.”

Opoku also adds that keeping the lines of communication open and remaining flexible in parenting styles are critical components in maintaining peace in the home

“Rather than choosing to stick with extreme sides of the parenting style continuum, be willing to work together to find the middle ground,” Opoku says. “It might require working with a professional to unpack your own childhood history and resulting beliefs about parenting, and then learning new parenting skills. But this is ok. Talking about that change may be much more welcome when you are both open to compromise. Awareness of differences in parenting styles met with compromise can make a huge difference in the impact of our parenting styles. And most importantly, committing to being kind and loving to one another in your everyday communications.”

‘There needs to be compromise…’

Many Redditor parents weighed in with advice for the struggling dad.

“I think as long as there’s no emotional trauma going on or any kind of abuse, it’s okay for parents to be different. The end result is that the kid won’t have a great relationship with mom potentially,” one user wrote.

“It sounds like you’ve got a lot of empathy for your own parenting style and why you go that way, and you think you’re right. Neither of those things is going to help the conversation you want to have with your wife. You’re both the parents, so if there’s this level of disagreement, then there needs to be compromise,” another Redditor commented.

“I’d suggest seeing a therapist together to get on the same page,” suggested one user.

“Couples counseling,” echoed another user.

Hopefully, these parents can find some kind of compromise to bring harmony to their home — if not for their own sake, then for their little girl’s.

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