When parenting styles differ

During the courting stage, couples seldom discuss about their parenting styles. Even if they do, it may not necessarily turn out that way because parenting styles is learned along the way. You may say that you want to be this and that kind of parent but after the kids come along, you will grow and change as a parent. So, what do you do when parenting styles differ? Err…. actually I don’t know and I would be most grateful if anyone could give me a good piece of advice. 😛

I am fortunate in that most of the time my spouse and my parenting styles do not differ very much. We have the same values though we are very different. However, at times we have our differences too. For example, exams. Yes, exams. Whooooaa! That word can create a lot of tension in homes. I really don’t know what to do about parents who scold their child who scores over 90 for their papers. I want to whack them on their heads. But what to do when that parent is your spouse? I really have no idea.

My spouse scolded my girl for scoring 90 for her Math paper. Ok. To be very fair, he does not expect for her to get 100 in every paper. However, he had spent a lot of time teaching her Math (he teaches her Math while I handle other subjects including the Chinese part in Math) so he was disappointed when she made many careless mistakes because he knew that she was capable of doing better. I suppose that is fair enough.  He is also a good father to spend many hours teaching them.

What I did not agree with is the way he scolded her. “How come you only got 90 for your Math! That is shocking!” and then he went on to scold her about her carelessness reducing her to tears. Naturally,  mummy got a scolding as well. “You are too stubborn. You never make her practise past year papers in an exam environment. You never made sure she has enough practise for those kinds of questions that came out.” I tried to tell him that his demeanor was all wrong (to me at least) but he got even madder saying that as usual I did not support him in anything he did. Now that got me mad so I told him that he should go and play badminton with his friends tomorrow evening (Its our 10th wedding anniversary) as he had earlier asked if he should go. Of course asking him to go then and play badminton with his friends has got nothing to do with kids exams! Women are sometimes crazy like that or is it just me? 😛

I digress. Back to exams. I still think that the kids should be praised and that he had spoiled everyone’s evening with his scolding. Everyone was looking forward to a relaxing evening for the first time after exams. The kids had worked so hard and they both did really well, scoring above 90 for every paper. It is the boy’s first time doing tests and he didn’t acknowledge or praise him for getting 100, 99.5, 98 for some of his papers. He was too busy scolding the girl. Apart from her Math, she scored mostly above 95 for her other papers but that was dimmed because of Math. Again I must emphasize that it was not because of the marks itself or because she failed to get 100 but because of the carelessness. Of course she also got scolded because she got penalised for forgetting to write her name on her Science paper. (but that one I agree). I had seen the girl looking forlorn and sad when she had over 90 during an earlier test before. I thought that was all wrong. She should be happy but she was sad and unhappy because she was afraid daddy would scold her. I tried to tell him that but he wouldn’t listen. I worry that he will place undue pressure on the kids to perform as there is no room for carelessness. I agree that kids should be taught not to be careless but zero tolerance for carelessness is scary to me.

He says that the kids should learn from  young that results counts whereas to me results aren’t the only thing that count in life. I guess we are all a product of our upbringing. Husband had strict parents. I had a mum who died early and a dad who was too busy trying to work and take care of 5 kids at the same time that I was left pretty much on my own. I studied on my own accord. I didn’t do all that well but I wasn’t all that bad either.

I think the kids had worked really hard and a positive word of praise and a hug should be given instead of scolding. Something like a hug and “Wow. You both did really well in your tests. I know you both worked really hard. That is good but look here, you made quite a lot of careless mistakes in this paper. Lets see what went wrong and learn from that mistake shall we.”

So what do  you do when you have differences of opinion like that?


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6 thoughts on “When parenting styles differ

  1. Hi MG,

    You are right. Parenting is a continuous and growing experience plus effort and must adapt to the children as they mature individually. Being parent(s), we need to see it as such and not have too much expectations and also compare between our kids or others’ kids.

    To be frank, I used to “blow my top” at my son before for being careless esp in Math as it is a very specific subject that is “black and white” (similarly for Science). However, I have changed to be more positve in encouraging him to be careful instead and that is paying off. As you said. results should not be everything and it is only through carelessness and mistakes that we learn (even for adults)in life.

    Being too perfectionistic (I was one) is not good as it create unnecessary stress(es) for the child(ren) or even an adult. There are many instances of brilliant child prodigies, who “burnt out” when or even before they hit university or beyond. A lot also go through life being misearable (personal experiences).

    School life is a learning process and should be joyful time. Parents’ expectations have to be “balanced” for the children to grow up into happy persons, who are true to themselves. This is the approach I am using nowadays after “re-learning” myself. As parents, we can only coach and guide our kids. Learning to praise more is a good start esp as a father myself :P.

    Your second last paragraph sums up what should and needs to be done by all parents to encourage children to do better as there are always more hurdles (exams in this case) to cross in future. Too much discouragement will affect their self esteem and may create negative responses in future.

    Good that you are giving praises when they are due as I think your kids are doing very well.

    Thank you for sharing your experience. 🙂

  2. Wow…your husband does come from the hard knocks in life.

    Reckon since daddy teaches her maths, she has to accept that she has to answer to daddy when it comes to the maths paper. Maybe later after the scolding, you can sit with her a put in a praise or two.

    As for our reactions in general, well….practically your last para puts it really well. But sometimes I catch myself wondering if our disappointment can be hidden long enough for us to say the first few words of praise. Usually we are so disappointed in their carelessness that we scold first and then feel bad and then make up to them.

    Ann, he comes from the hard knocks but he has a soft centre and though he insists on good results, I should not doubt his way of handling it for he has never handled it badly before. He dotes on the kids and they love him to bits, especially the girl. The boy is more attached to me.

    Have to keep our words and our thoughts in check.

  3. Hi MG
    I think your approach is better than your husband’s. I was the product of “scolding” when it came to exams and therefore was always fearful and stressed about school and did not study to learn and retain information but to get good grades. When I was in Form 3 I developed a rare skin condition that the dermatologist said no one knew the causes of, but we guessed it was stress. My parents started being more encouraging. They always said I put pressure on myself and to an extent it was true but I was only a child and I did feel a lot of pressure from them, like my self worth was tied up in achievement!
    But this detracts from your question. I’m not sure what you can do. You hit the nail on the head … we are all the products of our upbringing.

    Stress manifests itself in many forms.

  4. Can you whack your husband on the head for me also? In my case, I usually call the shots when it comes to parenting. We also try to talk it through before we do anything when it comes to parenting the kids i.e. what approach to use so that we are on the same level.

    Having said that, since my kids are still exam-free, I’m really not sure how we’d react to your situation. I just hope we won’t get upset over exam results, especially not 90 over marks. I remembered getting only 70 -80 marks when I was schooling and my parents were very supportive of that even. That’s the flaw in our school system – too academically driven. Einstein and Bill Gates never did well in school and look what they’ve become.

    You’ll have your day. haha. Sorry, just kidding.

  5. Of course your approach is so much better hands down. But I have to agree with Ann that sometimes we might be disappointed with them that we scold them first before praising them. Maybe we all need to think carefully before we speak and control our emotions. Your children did really well. You must’ve done a good job. I’m quite anxious when it’s my turn in the future next time. I think I’ll be the one more stress than my children. LOL.

    It is funny how parents always seem more stressed. The kids are always carefree and easy during exam days. Haha.

  6. Hi MG,
    Well done to your kids. They did well in their exams.
    I agree with you. Scolding will only put pressure on them in the next exams.

    If we can use better way to show or teach them not to do carelss or silly mistakes again, why have to scold them?

    In your case, maybe you can try to explain to your girl what her daddy expect her to get in the exam. Built up her confident so she won’t get stress with exams.

    All the best.

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