I love my husband, I really do. But we could not be more different.
We have completely different political views. We have different thought processes, different learning styles, different teaching styles. We have different parenting styles. And this last one is the one we almost always argue about (besides political views recently with this heated election).
This morning we got into a debate about parenting (and then political…ugh). I came across this article that talked about “the most important skill to teach your child,” which was empathy. The article goes into how fathers can help their children with their feelings and awareness of their feelings, managing their feelings, etc. About how society tells men they have to be big and strong and not weak or sensitive, like women (BIG EYE ROLL). I hate this concept so much. Why can’t men be sensitive and talk about their feelings? Why is it that when boys are hurt, they’re told “rub some dirt on it, get back up, you’ll be okay!”? Men are capable of expressing feelings and empathizing with others, but they’re told not to. It’s acceptable for women to have and express feelings, but women are also sometimes expected to “suck it up” and be strong. That’s so frustrating to me.
My husband grew up in a family culture that practiced this notion. And actually my family practiced this as well. Boys are tough and do not talk about feelings. Girls are allowed to be sensitive and get their boo-boos kissed. You can’t coddle a boy or talk about feelings, or kiss their boo-boos because “they’ll grow up to be weak and too sensitive.” I believe the opposite. I think if you respond to your children in an empathic way, putting yourself in their shoes and in their world for a moment to understand their feelings, you’re teaching your child: 1. to trust other people and know that they can ask for help when they need to, 2. feelings exist and feelings are okay, and 3. how to appropriately cope with feelings when they arise. Because, NEWSFLASH! Pushing your feelings out of your mind and dismissing them does not make them go away. It only makes things worse when our feelings are not attended to.
Anyways, research has shown that when parents, and in this particular article, fathers, are aware of their children’s feelings and empathize with them, allowing the feelings to exist, these children have healthier relationships and do better in school. Seems obvious to me. But then again, I’m that “crazy social worker mom.”
So I brought this topic up to my husband. And I’m not posting this to criticize him at all, but rather share this experience because we have different opinions and I think and hope that this could be a positive thing for us and our family. My husband read it and his reply was, “I want a good balance.” A good balance of “toughness and feelings.” And he said that he doesn’t want our son to be a person whose “feelings control his life.” I agree in the sense that I know he means he doesn’t want our son to let sad or mad feelings take over him. But there are many more feelings than the basic feelings like happiness, sadness, anger, confusion, etc. Because, really when you think about it, feelings are involved in everything we do in our lives. Feelings drive our every move. So why is this a bad thing? This is why mental health has such a stigma attached to it in this society.
I could go on forever about this. But I’ll wrap up by saying that in the end, we said we are willing to learn from each other and respect each other’s opinions. We will parent in the way that feels natural to us and do our best to raise an amazing boy who is already pretty amazing! He is 3 months old today, by the way 🙂