parenting together

 

  1. Becoming the Parent You Want To Be: A Sourcebook of Strategies for the First Five Years by Laura Davis and Janis Keyser
  2. Punished By Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A’s, Praise, and Other Bribes by Alfie Kohn
  3. Unconditional Parenting: Moving from Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason by Alfie Kohn
  4. The Pocket Parent by Gail Reichlin and Caroline Winkler
  5. The Mr. Rogers Parenting Resource Book by Fred Rogers and Joanne Rogers
  6. A Family of Value by John Rosemond
  7. Children: The Challenge : The Classic Work on Improving Parent-Child Relations–Intelligent, Humane & Eminently Practical (Plume) by Rudolf Dreikurs and Vicki Soltz
  8. Redirecting Children’s Behavior by Kathryn J. Kvols, Bill Riedler, and Parenting Press

 This is quite a list, a long list of parenting books. And yes, I have read or skimmed or consulted all of them, plus more of which I cannot even recall the titles. And now, finally, on book #9 that I am truly ‘getting it’. And no, I do not mean how to raise the perfect child.

 I like many points in many of these books and on some days, they have saved the day – giving me a new idea, refreshing an old idea I had forgotten, or given me the boost I need to make it to the end of the day. I think that while I could rely on what I just ‘know’, I also need guidance if I plan to change parts of my parenting style I do not like. I am seeing new parts of myself because of having children and having to raise them, and frankly, I don’t like some of them. Plus, if my husband and I differ in any way, parenting the way each of you ‘knows’ can lead to marital and parental problems.

 So after pouring over books, trying to keep my cool during the day, trying to implement changes with my boys to make the day go smoothly and happily with a full day of respectful behavior from everyone (mama included) here is what I finally figured out.

 Not everyone was on board. I was on board. I even set sail. But I forgot everyone else. Well, not entirely, but nearly. I often would explain to big E that because of behavior x-y-z, we would now be handling things differently and try to a-b-c. And we would try. I would tell my husband what I read and explain how I wanted to fix the behaviors and fix my actions. And I would try. And for a few days, it was smooth sailing.

 But then the troubles began again. Because both my husband and I were not consistently trying to change our tone of voice, our attitude to some behaviors, and our response, we quickly fell back to old ways. Even if I was trying something new, hearing an old way of explaining something or a quick, less respectful response made it easier to fall back into old habits.

 So recently I had an ‘Ah ha’ moment. Not only did we need to agree to change, we needed to be on the same page, well, the same book, to do so. And frankly, I am not sure it entirely matters what book or efforts you both try as long as you are both there, slogging through it together. And you are still there 2 weeks later, and a month later.

 Now I realize we have all heard this and read it. Parent consistently. Well, sure I heard it. I read it. But did I take it in and make the idea my own, applying to myself? Not really. What I read in the books or knew inside quickly went by the wayside when the toilet was clogged with TP, or big E was digging in the mud pit, or little O crawled for the cactus for the 10th time in a minute. Even if I knew a better response, I fell into old habits and sent a lot of mixed messages. It is hard to parent  together consistently when your spouse is consistent one way and yourself another!

 So I will keep my library of parenting books, but instead of sailing alone, I asked my husband on board. I offered him a book to read tonight so we can figure things out together. Hopefully we are on the same page tomorrow. And maybe we will get it right together and raise two happy, loving, gentle boys. Not perfect boys, but wonderful boys.

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