I can’t remember where I read it, but the sentiment goes like this: Just because it’s different, that doesn’t mean it’s wrong.
What I recall is that I heard it again not so long ago. I believe this remark was made in the context of men and women addressing household and parenting tasks with a different approach. In other words, women frequently decry Hubby’s handling of children as “wrong,” when in fact, it’s not wrong – it’s different.
My Motherly Self-Defense
As a preemptive line of (self) defense, I will say that women typically spend more time with our kids and consequently, we get in the habit of handling routines “our way.” This includes discipline or transportation or bedtime, not to mention the nuances of the best means to communicate.
Then again, we think these are the best ways to handle our kids – and maybe they are – or maybe they aren’t. There are many excellent ways to deal with situations, and more variations would in fact be advised.
Men and women are different; men and women are individuals; it’s only natural that we would approach a challenge in different ways.
And ‘his’ way isn’t automatically ‘wrong.’
However, too often we tell ourselves that children need consistency, and while that’s generally true, when expecting or requesting an assist, that shouldn’t give us carte blanche to micro-manage our men, or to chide if their methods are not precisely the same as ours.
Easier said than done to loosen the parenting reins?
Yes indeed. Especially when so much of our womanly self-worth is tied up in our maternal performance, and we’re also worried that any little stumble will somehow scar our kiddos for life, and garner us Worst Parent of the Year honors.
But what if we could lighten up? We, the mothers who see things as “wrong” when really – they’re just different?
This isn’t to say that sometimes our partners-in-pleasure-and-crime aren’t wrong after all (as are we). That’s when rational adult communication comes into play. As in genuine listening, reading between the lines, looking for compromises, keeping one’s word, and exercising empathy when background factors may be skewing our loved one’s usual responses.
Resentment Breeds Bad Behavior
As is often the case when we’re uncharacteristically unyielding – and I’m telling myself this as well – we’re acting out passive-aggressive scenarios with our men, or exerting control in the arena of parenting because we feel we have too little when it comes to other areas in the family dynamic. And this may be particularly true for those of us who don’t apply “only one right way” to life in general, but find ourselves in constant contention with someone who is a “my way or the highway” personality.
Parenting isn’t the only realm in which this dynamic plays out. There’s taking out the garbage (our way), loading the dishwasher (our way), folding the laundry (our way), paying the bills with priorities that reflect… you’ve got it… our way. But how much of this contention is due to other resentments that build up? Can we stop seeing the guys as doing everything wrong, and start saying thank you for what you do?
If you’re talking about diverging value systems – often displayed through behaviors – that’s another story. However, most of the time, that’s not what’s going on.
Care to add a few insights of your own? Can you see your partner’s parenting style as different rather than faulty? What about how they approach time, money, work, socializing or domestic duty around the house? And isn’t this refrain – “it’s not wrong, it’s different” – applicable in a broader cultural context?
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