Meeting defiance at the door

For the working parent, male or female, there is always the need to come up to speed very quickly when you walk in the door. While I am at work, the boys have been disciplined, rewarded, educated and just generally experienced life while I am away. It is necessary for me to take stock as soon as I get home and calibrate accordingly. I think my husband and I communicate well and try to establish common parenting goals so that we can both interact with the boys and know that while we have different styles, the same general system offers the background whoever is doing the parenting. But lately, especially with our oldest I’ve noticed a kind of defiance that seems especially reserved for me. Like the same request out of my mouth elicits an entirely different reaction than when it comes from my husband. I struggle with this not only because a defiant three-year-old can make even the sanest of us want to throw our own tantrum but also because it seems like it implies that my kid senses that I have less power over him. I know parenting is not or should not be all about the power struggle but there is some sense that I need to be able to say no and have my kids listen. And when I am away from home for almost 10 hours a day maybe we both know, my son and I, that I have less room to command, that I can’t demand obedience for those autonomous moments in the evening because I don’t have the explanation of the entirety of the day. I know this is a phase and I can objectively see that our son is three and in the midst of testing his boundaries, seeing how we react, gauging how far he can go in any one direction. But on a visceral level, it makes me feel like a terrible parent who resorts to yelling and threatening punishments that I won’t be able to follow through on because I am on my way out the door.  And because I have so little time with my boys bookending our days, I regret any part of it spent sending one of them to time out or taking away privileges. I need a better plan for maintaining control without being the constant bad guy. Any ideas from all you working parents or any perspective from you at home parents?

  4 comments for “Meeting defiance at the door

  1. 05/05/2010 at 5:47 am

    This was a tough one for me as well. I would usually be gone before they woke up and come home at bed time. They wouldn’t listen to me at all. I also felt bad when I seemed to be always getting on to them. What I had to do is make a change at work.

    I stepped down from a management position and got a flexible schedule to where I was home by 3pm. Now I work from home everyday. They see me all the time now. And I believe respect me more now that I am home.

    Our kids our roughly the same age, and yes they are just testing.

    I’m not sure if a schedule change is feasible in your situation, but it certainly helped ours.

  2. 05/05/2010 at 7:55 am

    I’m with Eric on the schedule changing. When I’m forced to work out of the home (like I am now), I work hard to be gone before they get up so I can be back home earlier.

    This is a battle you cannot lose. Unfortunately, you cannot win, either. My kids are older, and I can tell you that while they are just testing now … they will test HARDER in the future, not less. Set boundaries, both for yourself and for them. They can’t misbehave, or X happens (timeout, sent to their room, whatever). You have to follow through on X, even though it hurts, rather than let yourself blow your top … because that’s even worse.

    Handling this is a family effort, and you can get through it as a family.
    .-= goofdad´s last blog ..Live in the sunshine =-.

  3. Debbie
    05/05/2010 at 8:33 am

    I would say that you are doing a great job and have nothing to feel guilty about, I wonder if having more confidence in your own choice to provide the finance in the family as a loving neccessary thing and resting in the “rightness” of that. Kids are like sharks, they sense guilt and react to it like “blood in the water”

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