My wife and I have very different parenting styles. My son has a very close relationship with my wife, which includes talk time each night and cuddles on the couch. They genuinely enjoy each other’s company and share the same interests. I often believe Noah has inherited her ‘math’ brain and quirky sense of humor, which fits well with her child-like spirit.
I have a comfortable relationship with my son and we have some things in common. I know he’s adopted my sarcasm and often ‘gives as good as he gets’. When we spend time together, there is more silence and often music in the background. I genuinely enjoy his company and encourage his need to be entertained with ‘special projects’. Inevitably, when we are together he can create a project that captures his attention for an entire afternoon, takes up half of the living room, and dries up several markers in his ever-growing collection.
Our different parenting styles has been a struggle through the years, but we’ve survived as well as the kids. This weekend was a good example. We had another split-weekend where I worked Saturday and Sharlene had plans with her mother on Sunday. I knew something was off when I came home from my conference to, “He’s upset that he can’t go zip lining tomorrow.” I could already hear complaining, followed by negotiation. Sharlene was clearly worried, and I opted for avoidance.
I’m not sure who has a more difficult time in these situations. Noah who just wants to be with Mommy all the time or Shar, who feels terrible when either of her children are sad? Either way, there was a lot of angst. As Shar left for the day, I witnessed the intense negotiating, which moved quickly to pulling and then full on crying. My son was so upset that I was at a loss as to how to help, “What will make you feel better?”
“Mommy.” was his very simple response.
“I totally get that and it’s best if I just let you know, it’s not going to happen.” I wasn’t sarcastic or angry, I just like getting straight to the point. More importantly, I let him know it was okay to miss her. We sat close together, I’m not allowed to touch him when he’s feeling like this and listened to the music in the background.
After about five minutes, we negotiated popcorn at the computer and that made everything better. I fixed his kindle and we spent the afternoon hiking one of our favorite trails. So, what was the lesson? Less than two years ago, I would have taken this whole incident personally, after all I’m his Mom too. Today, I realized that we have two very different relationships and he can benefit from two very different parenting styles. Not only is that okay, he learns that love can be expressed in many ways. I learn that being the less adventurous Mom is important as well!