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Mom's Journal

When Parenting Styles Clash

My husband, Evan, and I differ in how we parent our children. Even our play habits reveal a contrast.

When our kids were little, I cooed, I snuggled, I built blanket forts where we?d giggle as we read through an armload of books. Evan?s style was to walk in the door, grab our toddler and throw her up in the air with a "Whooooop!"

Differences in parenting can be a cause for conflict. Many times I?ve bristled at Evan?s choices. He lets the kids go down the street to play with children I haven?t met (I haven?t approved them for interaction with my children). He sees nothing wrong with buying a trampoline for the backyard (yikes?lawsuit material) or a puppy (just another baby in my book) for the family.

His choices are often not my choices. They bug me. And when I get bugged ? well, I tend to criticize. In fact, I can become downright mean.

It starts like this: we?re all at dinner and the subject of a trampoline comes up. "Puhlleeeeeezzze Mom!" "Yeah, pleeeeze?Dad says it?s OK!" I look at Evan. We?ve had many?underline that?many conversations on this subject. He thinks trampolines are fun. I imagine my neck craned from every window in the house to watch over the back yard, phone in hand ready to dail 911.

"When did you say it was OK?" I hiss.

It?s in moments like these that I conclude all logical and rational powers have evaporated from my dear husband?s brain. In their place I see "irresponsible" and "immature." And because that?s what I think I see, my actions are less than respectful.

"May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans:15:5-6).

These words from Paul come from a passage on differences and on how to make room for them rather than judge them. Oops! There?s often no unity between my husband and me. Instead, it?s me versus him, my right way against his obviously wrong one. Oh yeah, and a couple of confused kids.

Over the years, Evan and I have had many differences of opinion on the subject of how to parent our children. But what we have in common is the goal: that they grow up to be God-loving people who are in the process of becoming like Jesus. When the goal is the same, the way it?s achieved doesn?t really matter. There?s room for his and my way. In fact, our children need both ways.

And so ? I gave in. We got a trampoline. And I?m stretching my neck muscles?and my character?in amazing new directions.

Elisa Morgan is president of mops (Mothers of Preschoolers) International. Elisa lives in Colorado with her husband, Evan, and their two children. For information about a MOPS group in your area, call (800) 929-1287.

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