My Husband the Elephant Dad

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Drawing Credit: Ian Kelewae

This Tiger Mom in Training is married to a big, giant, soft, Elephant Dad. A tiger and an elephant together just sounds bizarre. First, what is an elephant parent?  Priyanka Sharma-Sindhar sums it up best in her article "Being an Elephant Mom in the Time of the Tiger Mother". Basically she says, "[elephant] parents who believe that they need to nurture, protect, and encourage their children, especially when they're still impressionable and very, very young".

I actually agree with this method of parenting, however, when do you draw the line and start to offer a little tough love? Sometimes my husband and I have very different ways of laying down the law. There are times our disagreements in parenting makes me look like I'm trying to rule with an iron fist. Trust me, my rules are not that overbearing. A true tiger mother might say I'm a lightweight. In fact, they might even say I'm an Elephant Parent, which, honestly, I think I am as well.

Disciplining our tweenster is not the issue. We are still learning on how to deal with that and honestly, Ian is not really a bad kid. Our only complaint is his forgetfulness and lack of focus sometimes. Other than that, he's gold, as my mother would say. The issue we have is our parenting style when it comes to everyday activities.

Both of us desire for Ian to come home with straight A's. To practice his instruments with no prompts from us. And to basically do what is expected of him when we expect him to do it. But unfortunately, it doesn't happen that way. We usually have to remind him to do chores and practice instruments. He is a good student but his report card is sprinkled with B's and A's, and the occasional dreaded C. When it comes to setting down the rules, this is where we disagree.

As a TMIT (Tiger Mom In Training), I have high expectations. If he gets an A, I want him to aim for an A+ next time. If his music instructor says it's OK to practice his instruments for 30 minutes, I say practice for an hour, or better yet, practice it until you get it perfect. I expect him to keep a neat and tidy room. I want him to learn that he should always be aiming to do the best he can in any situation.

My Elephant Dad husband sees things a little differently. In his eyes, a B is OK. At least he tried his best and that's what he got for his efforts. He thinks practicing his instruments for 30 minutes is just fine. As long as he's doing it. He does expect him to do his chores regularly but, if he skips a day (or two) it's not the end of the world.

I want our children to be prepared for a challenging and competitive world. I know Hubby wants that as well. Even with disciplining we see things different. In the end, it's who's parenting skills will get our children the most prepared spiritually, physically, and mentally for the world? Only time will tell, but in the meanwhile, how do we handle our different parenting styles?

In theory, having two different parenting styles is perfect because now our little ones can get the best of both worlds. Isn't that what attracted us to each other in the first place? We complete one another. But somewhere along the way, we need to find the balance. There is some insightful information I found, listed below, and I really think we can come to an agreement since we both want the same result.

I've come up with 5 ways to get us on the same page.

1. Agree to Disagree
We need to accept that we see things different and that it's OK. Instead of trying to change the others mind and see it one way we need to just embrace our differences.

2. Combine the Good
We need to sit down and take the best from both of our styles and turn it into one. In the end, we both share the same values. We want our children to learn to make good decisions for themselves when they are adults. It's all about raising happy, healthy, successful individuals.

3. Never Disagree In Front of the Children
We both agree in having an open and honest home within our family, however, including children in on  discussions like that isn't a positive thing. The decisions we make for him are in his best interest. Some may require tough love on our part and he may not truly understand the benefits of that yet. Also, he may begin to use our different styles against us, which is never a good thing for anybody. I don't want to play the game of good cop vs bad cop. Nobody ever wants to be the bad cop, that's not fun. Discuss among ourselves and then come to him once we have settled on an agreement.

4. Learn to Compromise
This one can be difficult because every situation calls for a different action. There will be some things we disagree on but in that moment we will have to decide together what is best for the child. This means putting egos aside.

5. Create Balance
Wouldn't it be great to show the example that even a Tiger Mom and an Elephant Dad can make it work? The benefit of showing children how to make differences work and maintaining balance in the life is essential. Instead of being witness to two carbon copies, they get to see a little of two ideas come together as one.

Reading the articles below was extremely helpful. What parent are you? An elephant or a tiger? Or are you something completely different?

Working With Different Parenting Styles
When Parents Have Different Parenting Styles.
How to Handle Two Different Parenting Styles?

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