WT 98: How Do We Get on the Same Page?
Question 1: From Natalie in Roswell, GA My current (perhaps unanswerable) question is how to get my husband to take on more (his share) of the mental labor that goes into parenting small children. I feel so torn between work, daily parenting and home keeping, and keeping everyone’s appointments, activities, school work, diets, technology limits, bedtimes, etc... that I’m starting to feel resentful of my husband who seemingly thinks all these things just fall into place magically. When I try to bring it up, he gets angry and thinks I’m calling him a bad father. Ugh. You don’t have to share all that info or you can if you want lol. Long story long: How do I get my spouse more involved in the mental work of parenting that I have taken on all alone? Hope that makes sense.
Karen's Answer: Natalie, it makes perfect sense! I get it. You may or may not like my answer, but I’m glad you asked your question, because I assure you that a lot of moms out there feel the same way! Okay, so here is my answer. I think that we as women are wired by God to think through all of these types of things, and God didn’t necessarily wire men that way. Once again, this is just my opinion. I think Greg was an awesome father! Really awesome! But, as great as he was, he didn’t think of all those things you just mentioned. Men, do think that this stuff magically happens, and it does for them, because of us moms. :) It’s frustrating I know, but it’s real world. What I suggest is to realize this is the role you play in the family, and it maybe stinky that it is on your shoulders, but be grateful that at least someone is thinking about it. Try a different approach with your husband. Instead of “fussing” at him, start praising him for what he is doing right. After a little time goes by, say to him, “I see an issue with our children and I would love your opinion on what to do. You are very wise and I want to hear from you before moving forward.” I think when we are working with our husbands, it’s all in our approach. I have been just as guilty as anyone else. I don’t think I am getting onto Greg, but when I step back and look at it from his perspective I see how he “hears” me getting onto him. I think as a mom, I get so overwhelmed, and frustrated and then I want Greg to “fix” it or help me and in my desperation it comes across negative. Make sense? The other thing you may need to pray through is where in life can you create margin. Obviously your family isn’t going anywhere, but what other areas can you create margin? You may need to pray through your job, or activities, or ask God to show you what you can “cut out” to create more space. One REAL practical thing, is to put your big girl panties on and realize this is part of the job of being a mom. I KNOW it’s overwhelming and at times not even fair, but just like we preach to our kids all the time, life is not fair. For me, I had to stop focusing on making the work even between Greg and I and start giving it my best effort even if it wasn’t 50-50, more like 100% on my end and 50% on his. The end goal is to develop great children, and if I have to roll up my sleeves and work twice as hard, then that is what I am going to do. You got this mom!!!!
Question 2: My sister’s kids are very close in age to my own and they are constantly getting the latest and greatest of everything for their kids. iphones in elementary school? Yup. Hoverboard for Christmas? Yup! It is really hard not to feel resentful about the decisions she is making for her own family (which is totally her business and shouldn’t bug me i know!) when my kids are constantly exposed to it and are always asking for the things their cousins have.
Karen's Answer: Girlfriend! We could do an entire podcast on this subject. I have been where you are on both sides of my family and I get it. You are right, it is non of our business, but we make it our business, because it starts affecting our lives when our children are complaining to us and whining, about “why” they can’t have the same stuff. So, what is a mom to do? Put your closed toe shoes on and buckle up! This may not be fun to hear, but it will help. (sort of like a shot at the Dr’s office) Keep in mind, the only reason I can answer your question is because I have lived it and survived it!!! Ask God to help you stay in your lane. Put blinders on your eyes, to where you are not comparing your life to another. I know the issue is with your children, but it’s also with us, because we of course would love to be able to afford to buy those things for our children. (or I wanted to). Teach your children, “life isn’t fair” and learn to “celebrate” their cousins and all they get. That is a hard lesson for us adults, and even harder for children, but it is a must. I used to tell my children, “even if we could afford it, I wouldn’t necessarily get you all that because you are too young and don’t need it.” Last thing, teach your children, they can either focus on what they don’t have or focus on what they do have and make the most of it. In life there will always be people that have more and do more. Happiness is found in not what you have, but in contentment of what you have and that is a choice we all make everyday. It starts with the heart, both with you and you children. The most practical thing you can do is start to ernest in your prayers, ask God to change your heart and give you wisdom to move forward with your children. Whew! I know that sounds preachy, can you tell I’ve given that talk about 1 million times, both to myself and my children!
Question 3: My mother-in-law is wonderful (truly - she’s a gift!) and often takes my kids for an overnight at her home to give me a break, however when my kids are at her house she lets them watch movies that are way too old for them. (Mostly superhero PG-13 movies) I know they aren’t “terrible” movies, but they do have language I don’t like and themes that are above my kids’ heads. My husband has asked her not to let the kids watch these movies before but it doesn’t seem to be changing the behavior. Any advice?
Karen's Answer: Usually the only way to see a change in these type of situations is to stop the visits at the grandparents house until she will comply with your wishes. I would for sure have your husband lead out on those discussions. You are setting a boundary with the grandparents, and they wont like it, BUT they want to see your children, and they will eventually comply IF you are consistent. (sort of like training your children, right?) Check out two of Karen's recommended resources on this subject: Boundaries by Cloud and Townsend and Mom Core study - session on Boundaries
Question 4: My husband and I are never on the same page when it comes to discipline. He thinks I’m too lenient with the kids and I think he is too quick to anger and overreacts to the kids’ behavior. Part of it is maybe that I am home all day long with them and they just wear me out - we have four elementary-aged kids. How do we make peace with each other and get on the same page?
Karen's Answer: To make peace you are both going to have to give a little and take a few steps toward each other. Honestly, you are both probably right. I don’t know your situation, but from what you are saying, you are probably too lenient and your husband is probably too quick to anger. Try taking a step towards the other, you need to tighten it up and he loosen up. You can each coach one another and give each other “tips” on how to take steps towards the middle. Make sense? At different times throughout our marriage Greg and I struggled through this. However, it was probably the opposite, I was quick to over react and Greg was too lenient. We both had to learn to come to the middle. Talk to your husband and get a game plan, then start doing it.
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