Writer Nancy Baker shares her personal experience as wife in a blended family. Based on her experience she shares conclusions you’ll find invaluable.
When I married for the second time my daughter just turned six. She was happy as a lark to be getting a new daddy. I decided early on I would not marry if the man did not accept my daughter completely and treat her as his own.
From the very beginning my husband responded to my daughter with love. There were no annoyed looks when he thought I was not looking or irritation when my girl was around. So we decided to get married.
My daughter was and still is a lovely girl. I’m not just saying that as a loving mom. She was special to everyone in the family and everyone she met. She had very few problems adapting to our new family. My husband was never married and didn’t have children of his own. My daughter was his first.
Daughter and New Son
We had a few minor problems on disciplining issues but he pretty much left that up to me. As I said, she was a very well-rounded and loving child. Then along came our first child together, our son. He was and is a peach but a very active peach.
He moves, shakes, and rocks and rolls. We were both in our mid thirties when he came along. He did have to have the reigns pulled in quite often and this is where our differences in disciplining styles came in.
My husband was the youngest of four. When I say the youngest I mean he was basically raised as an only child. Not only that but he was raised in a wealthy home with a nanny.
His mom was a very social person on several committees. His dad owned a few companies and was very actively involved. My husband did not exactly roll the same way I did when it came to family life.
We got into it early on because our son was an adorable mischief maker. Every time he did something bad he grinned and his eyes would sparkle. He did not stomp his feet and scream. He just did what he wanted with the attitude of “look at me and how cute I am doing this bad thing!”
My husband would laugh at him. Even though it was extremely cute and funny I did my best to at least laugh in private. My husband did not see how it would hurt because he was a toddler. I told him toddlers eventually become teenagers and their behavior is often colored with mischief but it ceases to be funny.
Because of my husband’s upbringing as our son got older and even with my daughter he was impatient with them and would often react out of irritation instead of loving discipline for their good. This really upset me because I was brought up by a similar dad. I always knew when he was just annoyed with us and when he was disciplining us because we really did something that needed discipline. I hated it when it was just that he felt we were getting in his way.
These kinds of things carry over into a marriage and child rearing.
It is so important to take these kinds of things into consideration before you marry someone.
It would have been a good idea had we discussed these issues but very rarely when you’re dating situation do you have the presence of mind to talk about how you are going to discipline your children.
It may even appear to be bold talking about raising children but nonetheless it is very important.
He did not like my style of parenting either. He thought I was mothering our son too much, that he should be raised tough. If our son got hurt he would learn and not do it again. I was never against our son playing outside or climbing trees and doing boy things but I did watch him carefully around water and situations I thought were dangerous.
Our son also was labeled with ADHD early on. I took him to be tested for everything, learning disabilities, eye exams, hearing tests, and physical exams along with seeing a psychologist about the possibility of ADHD. He tested well on everything and was borderline ADHD. He just could not sit still and do his class work; he hated it. I worked with him with little success because he took advantage of my mother’s love so I hired tutors he could not overcome with his cuteness.
Conflicting Views of Discipline
Somehow in all of this, and I am not saying I was one hundred percent right and my husband was wrong, but he thought I was babying my son. I probably was but my hearts desire was to help him to succeed. We viewed my extra help with two very different view points.
Since I had been raised by a dad who was extremely hard and did not believe in helping us with our homework or anything for that matter, we should learn the hard way and a mom who was all loving, I was a mixed bag of emotions on the subject. My husband was raised by a nanny who did everything for him and parents who were constantly bailing him out but never really there for him.
It was a really hard situation as I was convinced the extra help was needed. He was not a bad boy; just not focused and had a hard time sitting still. My husband’s disciplining style was mostly hands off and let the children learn on their own. If they got on his nerves that was when they got corrected.
Whew. It just goes to show you that it does matter how you were raised and it is something that people getting married should discuss. Neither one of us had any idea what our parenting styles were even though I had my daughter already because she was one of the easiest and most congenial children I have ever met. She is now a young adult. The same still goes just so you do not think I am being partial to a sweet little face!
This disciplining issue became a major problem in our marriage. It appears that the old saying may be true to some extent, that women marry men like their fathers. Not that my husband was as hard and tyrannical as my dad however he still had the same tendencies and background. My dad was also the youngest and like an only child in a wealthy family and during the depression no less! My husband was not controlling over me like my dad was my mom back in the fifties, but I think part of it was the times they lived in as well.
As I look back I believe it would have been a good idea for my husband and I to go to family counseling or to get involved in a group of older and wiser parents. We both needed a visual example of what real parenting was supposed to look like, not just the discipline we imagined based on the way we were raised.
We were both disciplining in fear, trying to avoid the things we did not like about the way our parents did it. We were going contrary to the bad disciplining styles we saw as children and somehow trying to liberate our children from the same fates. Neither one of us really had our heads on straight and were seeking out the very best for our children.
But that takes understanding by very mature people and when most of us are starting out we do not have the maturity we actually need. More and more I see people starting their families much older. Older does not always mean better however, especially if you have not kept your energy up!
It is sort of a catch twenty two having children young enough to keep up with them and old enough to make sure you are ready. But it is absolutely something that everyone should come to grips with before they start a family.
Nancy Parker is a regular contributor to www.enannysource.com and she loves to write about wide range of subjects like health, Parenting, Child Care, Babysitting, nanny background check tips etc. You can reach her @ firstname.lastname@example.org