Firstly, let’s define Bigger and Stronger and Wiser and Kinder
Bigger and Stronger are the physical elements of our relationships. They tend to cover the more masculine aspects of the parenting role. Not that mothers don’t do bigger and stronger at times, it’s more likely to be a masculine response.
Wiser and Kinder are the emotional elements of our relationships. They tend to cover the more feminine aspects of the parenting role. It’s the more nurturing component of parenting. Again is not a gender element. We all have masculine and feminine, it’s that we tend to access the qualities are one side more than that other.
Masculine energy is logical, direct, conquering, moment by moment, firm, robust. Feminine energy is creative, fluid, nurturing, refined, continual, gentle. Both energies exist within us and we draw on what we need as we need it.
For instance, I have historically tended to be more masculine in my approach to parenting. More likely to problem solve, less likely to nurture. Fortunately, my husband is more of a nurturer than me, so my kids haven’t missed out. It’s why it’s important to appreciate that our children need to experience both sides of the energy continuum.
Differing parenting approaches is a common issue
They comes up across the board. In my world it’s usually mums concerned about dad’s or grandparents, or other co-parents and the way they manage our children in our absence.
Mothers or whoever is the primary carer can be quite protective. Then other people have different perspectives, such as seeing us (the primary carer) as being too soft (or hard) so overcompensate.
Consider whether that’s a factor in play in your family. Is it possible that your partner believes that you are too soft (or hard), and so approach parenting differently.
In those moments, what could you say, or do that might have them more likely to listen?
The problem comes when either or both parties then gets defensive or judgemental about the differing approaches and take any feedback as criticism. It is a natural human response though not particularly useful.
In the moments of disagreement it’s getting clear about what is really the problem that you want solved.
Lots of times, we end up in conflict that sounds like you v me personal attacks, when really what we want is some kind of consistency in approaches.
When in conflict – Learn to fight Functionally.
Learning how to functionally navigate through these typical parenting conflicts is a fundamental skill to grow so that our children feel safe in ours’s and anyone’s care.
Fighting functionally focuses on the problem not the person.
In the child management space, its appreciating that we don’t have to BE or respond the same way in order for our children to be ok. It’s that we care enough about our children to make an effort to understand each other’s perspective. Adult to Adult and adult with child.
When we model that it’s ok to have differing approaches and neither is “bad” or “good” our child/ren’s sense of safety goes up because even the youngest child can learn to adapt to differing rules in different environments, especially when the big people provide consistent expectations in those different environments.
The Aim when Creating the Environment
In the end, the aim is generally to create an environment where our child/ren feel seen and heard. That they gain the skills to appreciate that different people can care for them in different ways and that they are still cared for.
The primary carer will always have the most influence on how a child forms their identity. This means that regardless of how a child is managed in other people’s care, it’s how mum processes that experience with them IF they had a problem.
Just because another adult manages your children differently to you, doesn’t mean the children will be damaged. Nor does it mean they’ll resent you for allowing them to be treated differently. Even if they say they didn’t like the experience, is to avoid taking on any unnecessary responsibility for things you had no control over. (tip Validate, Empathy, Curiosity).
The biggest challenge comes for kids when parents don’t know how to explore their differences in approach to child management in functional and resourceful ways. When one adult dismisses another’s point of view due to defensiveness. Then goes into justification of their opinion.
Adulting can be difficult at the best of times, especially for those of us who may not yet have a grounded view of ourselves, or well-rounded emotional worlds. Fundamentally, taking ownership of the things we can control, and avoid blaming over the things we cannot, is the best way to minimise conflict. Live above the line.
I love to hear from you!
What stood out, what resonated, and was there any ah ha’s?