Two sides of the coin are that you’ll be stressed and have a difficult marriage if you try to teach and guide your partner throughout their parenting journey. Is it not his responsibility to be the best parent he can be? On the flip side, if you didn’t help your struggling partner, who will pay the price? Not just your husband, but ultimately your children will suffer in the years to come. This blog post looks at the pros and cons of guiding your partner into becoming a gentle parent.
Why Do Men Tend to be Different to Women on Parenting Decisions?
Interestingly, men and women are supposed to be different. Men like to give solutions rather than listen and can invalidate feelings, whereas women tend to give advice and direction. Men need to feel needed, whereas women need to feel cherished. Women can appear to disapprove when they disagree with something. These differences can set our marriages up for arguments and disagreements. For more details about why we are different and how to resolve these differences, have a read of ‘Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus’.
It is therefore clear that Mum’s can feel frustrated at having to repeat our gentle parenting styles, over and over again. It can make us feel resentful at why our spouse didn’t listen to us when we’ve told them a million times already. It feels like the man has not listened to the reasons and importance of gentle parenting. Women can feel responsible to help their husband’s improve on their parenting journey.
For the Dad’s, they may feel like their children’s behaviour need solutions. That their children should be showing respect or certain behaviours now or it may never happen. Some of those ideas may be to shout, discipline or force a child into behaving. The man can also feel his wife is trying to control him, when she feels she’s trying to help. These male / female differences can cause difficulties in your parenting and marriage.
The Importance of Both Parents Being Gentle
There has been a lot of interest in the scientific community over the effect on children raised in households with both parents use similar parenting styles, vs households where the parenting styles differ. Do the outcomes for those children differ dependent on whether the parents are united together or offer different styles? The results are very clear – children fair better when both of their parents are authoritative, i.e. gentle or attachment in nature. They fair poorly when both are permissive (i.e. not enforcing boundaries) or authoritarian (i.e. controlling or disciplining children, often in physical or emotionally hurtful ways). Where only one parent was positive and followed gentle parenting styles, the children still did better than where none did, but not as good as when both were gentle parents.
This makes a clear decision for me that it is essential for us to guide our other halves, where that be husbands, wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, spouses or partners in how to be united in our parenting styles. Debating the benefit of certain ideas and theories can have huge benefits to both parents in making improvements in their parenting choices. For more help on debating your gentle parenting goals with your partner, have a read of my blog post about aligning with your partner here.
For more reading of the scientific research papers, here are some examples which found the benefit of both parents being authoritative / gentle in nature:
- This study found a correlation between parents who were permissive or authoritarian; whereas there was no clear link when there was an authoritative / gentle parent. This means that there may be a high proportion of households where one parent sees the benefit of gentle parenting, whereas the other parent disagrees and chooses another style (Winsler, Madigan & Aquilino, 2005).
- Several studies have found that the best parenting for children was when both parents were supportive / gentle. This had benefits in adolescence for delinquency, depression, and school commitment (Simons & Conger, 2007; Martin, Ryan & Brooks-Gunn, 2007; Hoeve, et al., 2011).
- The order of best outcomes for children linked to parenting styles found children of: 1) authoritative / gentle parents had the best outcomes; 2) authoritarian parents had the worst outcomes; 3) intrusive parents also had poorer child outcomes (Kuppens & Ceulemans, 2019).
- One study found the equal importance of both parents in contributing to a child’s cognitive development (Keizer, et al., 2019).
Responsibilities for Parenting
As the above data shows, having both parents on the same gentle parenting path offers huge benefits to your child. So, who is responsible for researching and educating your other half about the specifics of gentle parenting – them or you?
Let’s truly consider the options here. Some would say, they became the Dad so they should do their own research and follow their own learning path. Leaving the Dad as some independent decision maker implies like you are operating in separate households as two individual people. That does not sound like much of a marriage, or a partnership, open for debating and discussing the best options for your children, does it?
Others would say join ’em or leave ’em. This option lacks empathy and assumes that other people are not open to debates to help improve their parenting choices. Joining a parent in non-gentle ways is not recommended as it can cause harm to the emotional wellbeing of your children in the many years to come.
The best option for us was to thoroughly research gentle parenting and its benefits copared to the other parenting choices available. As I was the full time parent, it meant I had more time to do this research and practice applying it in our day-to-day lives. That meant I was in the best place to guide my husband when he was home with us. This has been challenging at times, and gets borderline frustrating when I feel he isn’t taking it all on board quick enough. However, he is a gentle and loving Daddy and as a result my children have a constistently loving home. That, for me, is worth every difficult moment reminding my husband of the best options available to him.
Pros of Taking Responsibility for Parenting Choices
- You can feel proud when you see how comfortable your children are just being themselves in your company.
- It gives you something challenging to study, to fill those lonely and sometimes boring times of being a parent.
- It opens you up to the biggest healing journey you may ever experience. Every improvement you make to your mental and physical health seems to directly improve your children’s health too.
- It helps you understand your partner, through trying to help work out reaosns why they may react in certain ways or find things triggering.
Cons of Making Most of the Parenting Choices
- It can cause you frustration at times having to repeat, repeat repeat. Sound familiar to helping your toddlers learn? At least the benefit of repeating means it’s reinforcing your theories to yourself each time too.
- Sometimes it can feel like you’re making all the decisions alone. What if, due to lack of knowledge or understanding, you’re doing something wrong? If you feel this way, it’s good to become part of a gentle parenting or attachment parenting community. There are plenty of online forums to join with like-minded parents. Any questions you have can be debated among the other families to help you. The communications can also be 100% online to keep you safe during these COVID times.
- It can feel exhausting and overwhelming to constantly be assessing your own parenting successes and mistakes, no matter having to assess your partner’s too. If you’re not careful life can become very difficult without any mental breaks. If this is you, consider using your partner or someone else to care for your children while you pursue an interest.
Looking at the image above, I view that both parents are equally important in passing lessons on to the other parent. In our care at the moment, this does mostly involve me educating my husband because he works full time and I’m alone with the kids full time. Passing on these lessons to each other is particularly the case if both parents were not raised in a fully gentle way, as the lessons are even more useful in that situation. That way, we can pass ideas and our kids world securely between each other’s hands. If we decide to do it alone and let our partner make mistakes to find his path, our children may have a rockier path and feel less stable than having two sets of hands working together.