Navigating this journey of parenting is not an easy one. If only when our precious bundles of joy came into the world, they also included a manual. Complete with instructions and intricate directions to get through the hard times. I mean then that would make the toddler years, especially dealing with the threenager moments, the teenage years, and everything in between a little bit easier. We would probably even feel like we had some clue as to what we were doing instead of just blindly doing it, and hoping that we aren’t doing it wrong.
While we are busy raising the world changers of the next generation, we are also trying to cultivate and maintain our relationship with our partner. Someone who was probably raised totally differently than us, communicates in a completely different way, and thinks that we should probably be handling things in an entirely different way! As if that wasn’t enough “different” in one sentence, none of your children are the same! So, you can’t expect to raise them all the same way either.
When you were dating, maybe you talked about your hypothetical kids, and how you would raise. You maybe even talked about how you would deal them in hypothetical situations. What would you do when they did this or that? Which of the two of you would be the disciplinarian? How would you discipline? So many questions, and they all seemed so easy to answer. Adam and I did that, too. We were already raising my daughter Kaitlin, so the conversations started immediately about her, and eventually moved onto our future kids. We didn’t know it then, but we would soon have a lot more conversations in store for us!
There were questions we didn’t hypothetically think to ask or think about. What if we have kids with different needs or abilities? Will that change any of our answers? How will we deal with that with our other kids? Those are some pretty loaded questions. We didn’t know that our third child would be special needs, but the truth is all of our kids have different needs and abilities. We can’t deal with them all the same.
Sometimes Adam and I have differing views on how to handle our kiddos. Adam and I grew up very differently. Even just take something as small as country living versus city living. I would never leave the doors to my house unlocked, let random strangers use my phone, or leave my car doors unlocked. Thankfully after almost 10 years of marriage and city living, he now doesn’t do this anymore, although we really laugh at all of the mishaps in our first year of marriage! Just in the same way, he and I sometimes don’t see eye to eye on how we should handle situations with the kids.
Communication is key. Talk about the way that you currently handle discipline in your house, and how you feel it’s working or not working. Talk about how you would like to see to go, or what you could do differently. Don’t shut each other out, you are each other’s best asset.
Maybe one of you feel that there needs to be a difference in the way you discipline your kids. You need to understand what the need or reason for the difference in discipline is. Once you have an understanding, everything changes. If someone went speeding around just to cut you off and stop a few feet ahead of you, let’s be honest, you would be angry, right? But what if you saw that person pull into the hospital, and a woman in labor get out of the car? Once you had the understanding that her husband cut you off to get to the hospital for his wife who is in labor, suddenly, you are no longer angry that you were cut off, but rather worried and glad that she made it there.
In our house, we use Aiden’s (our Autistic son) iPad timer very frequently for a countdown timer (TV is going to end, we are leaving the house, etc.). We also use it for time out because the timer fills with red as the time goes by. So, the timer becomes a visual for him to show how much time has gone by, and how much time is left. At the end of the timer, it plays “Happy” from Despicable Me 2, and hearing that song play is his cue that he can get up. By far, that was the best $1.29 that I spent in the Apple store in a long time because that song truly makes him happy and makes a difference at the end of time out.
At first Adam didn’t think that he needed it. He thought that I was just coddling Aiden. It wasn’t until he watched the almost instant decrease in meltdowns when I regularly used the timer that he really saw how useful it was. I implemented a “1 minute” timer. Aiden has 1 minute to take a deep breath and calm down or he needs to go to time out (his least favorite spot). We have avoided so many time outs just from this new technique. It took us awhile, but we got there. We figured out something that worked, and Adam saw that I wasn’t just “babying” Aiden.
Just as it’s going to take some understanding of your kids and their needs. It’s going to take some understanding of your partner and vice versa. I can’t promise that it’s going to be easy, but I can promise that you are going to get through it. I can also promise that you are doing an amazing job as parents! So keep your head high and keep up the amazing work!