Wednesday, June 9, 2010

When Parenting Styles are Different

I have never read a book on parenting styles or techniques the whole way through.  I tried reading this book:


when I found out that I was pregnant with twins...but I couldn't get through it because it scared the crap out of me.  I love to read but I'm not so keen on reading about how other people deal with their children.  It usually does one of two things...either makes me feel like I am a horrible, unorganized mother and my children are the worst behaved children to ever walk the face of the planet OR it reaffirms my belief that you should have to pass a test (other than a pregnancy test) to have children.  I mean, if you have to explain to someone that a babies need fed then maybe they shouldn't be having children.  Plus, I haven't found a book yet that deals with how to stay sane while trying to raise 4 children under the age of 5.

I have noticed, however, that my husband and I have very different parenting styles.  I'm sure that someone has written about this...I may have even read something about this somewhere and that is why the vocabulary for this post comes so easily...or maybe I should write my own book about it, who knows.

Anyway - I had to go into work for a few hours yesterday.  It was nice.  It was a nice break from having to feed/change/deal with one of my 4 children.  When I came home, though, things weren't so nice.  Of course they were all fine until I walked in the door - which is ALWAYS the case no matter WHERE they are when I return.  They are fine at my parents, my in-laws or my house UNTIL I walk in the door.  So, I began the process of feeding the babies bottles and putting them down for a nap.  It was a little after 1 o'clock.  Now, if I had been home they would have already had their bottle and been sleeping...but because Jerry was home with them, they were playing and happy UNTIL I walked in the door.

While giving David his bottle I realized something.  I am a proactive parent.  I want to be one step ahead of my children.  I want to feed them right before they realize they are hungry.  I want to snuggle them to sleep right before they fall asleep bouncing in the Johnny Jumper.  I want to change them before they realize they are wet and uncomfortable.  Jerry is a reactive parent.  When they start to fuss, he feeds them.  When they fall asleep in the Johnny Jumper, he carries them up to their crib.  When they are leaking through their diaper, he changes them.

I don't think there is anything wrong with either parenting style.  To tell you the truth, the babies slept better last night than they had in a week - which could be because Jerry didn't try to have them take a nap before they were ready to take a nap.  A lot of the time I try to feed them before they are starving only to realize that they aren't hungry at all.  Then again, there are times when Jerry waits until they are too tired to fall asleep easily and we get a fight going to bed.  I think our differences in parenting styles causes a little tension between us from time to time because we both think the other one isn't doing it "right".   I'll blame him when the babies are crying because he was doing something else and he should have known it was time to feed them.  He'll get upset with me because we can't get out the door because someone is always due to eat or have a nap or be changed...I feel like he wants to know why we can't just wait until they cry and I want to know why we have to wait until they do.

I know there are no answers for the perfect way to raise children.  I know that it's a trial and error process and that it changes.  I had the babies on a great schedule for 3 days.  It was AWESOME!  Then, on the 4th day, it just didn't work.  It wasn't me - it was just that they weren't ready to sleep and eat at the same times they had the day before...so, I reluctantly adjusted my schedule.  I'm flexible.  Things I did that worked great with Nate, didn't work with Danika.  Things that worked with Danika aren't working with the boys.  Heck, things that work with Dean don't work with David.  They are all different.

Maybe reacting to what they need when they need it is the best thing to do...but kids need consistency and routine, too.  Maybe all you can do is be flexible and try to stick to a routine while also remembering that the best laid plans of...well, you know.  :)