My daughter recently turned two and you better believe the terrible two’s kicked into full swing about 20 minutes into her birthday! Now, this isn’t completely foreign territory for my husband and I. My daughter’s been very vocal about what she wants and doesn’t want since she came out of the womb. While that fiery little personality can be a lot to handle in moments, it’s a huge part of why we’re so freaking obsessed with her. My husband also says that he’s been getting training on how to deal with her feistiness for 8 years… precisely how long we’ve been together. Weird coincidence. 😉
So far though, I have to say the toughest part about these tantrums and moods that flip on a dime is figuring out how to best navigate them together as a team.
My husband and I hate seeing our daughter cry. Or more specifically, we hate hearing her cry. It literally fires up this instinctive fight or flight heat over my entire body and I go into survival mode. Something similar happens to my husband. We both want to fix whatever it is that’s bothering her immediately. Which is difficult to do when your kid’s frustrated that they can’t communicate what’s bothering them and you are frustrated that you can’t understand what the hell is suddenly bothering them. In turn, we typically end up taking out that frustration on each other. I think it’s because subconsciously we’re trying to avoid taking it out on her, but it’s gotta come out somewhere or we’ll just… explode.
This dynamic is the opposite of how we always said we’d handle these situations before they were playing out in real life. When I was pregnant, we agreed that we’d always be a team in front of the kids. We said we’d always have each others back when we were taking a stand or enforcing something and if we disagreed with the other person or the way it was handled, we’d talk about it behind closed doors. HA! Maybe if we were somehow magically emotionally unaffected by her wailing or throwing herself on the floor tantrums, we’d have the wherewithal to consciously make that rational call in the moment, but… when you’re in the heat of the moment (literally, her meltdowns make me sweat), it’s hard to think clearly and calmly.
We have very different roles and relationship dynamics with my daughter. I love that about us. Josh is the silly, fun one who’s completely wrapped around her tiny finger and she knows it. I’m the source of comfort and the bad cop rolled into one. At two, she already knows, if mommy says no, that’s her cue to walk straight over to daddy and ask again because she’ll likely get a different answer. This plays out when it comes to discipline as well. We’re not screamers or spankers, but I’m fiery like my kid and when it gets to a point where I see her running with a meltdown until we cave and give in, I’m far more inclined to get stern or shut it down. Josh says I can be too hard on her, she’s only little, I shouldn’t rise to it, etc. His disposition is to try to calmly rationalize with her and ultimately placate her until it stops. He’s super sweet and soft with her and honestly, if he was any other way it’d probably freak me out, but in the moment it frustrates the hell out of me. I tell him he’s setting her up to carry on like this with no repercussions, not setting boundaries, she’ll think she can get away with anything, etc.
What I’ve learned already is that neither is the “right” way, despite what the parenting books and blogs will tell you.
Discipline is murky water. You’ve gotta see what discipline tactics work for your kid so that they are learning boundaries and appropriate behaviours without feeling alienated or unsupported. You’ve also gotta see what works for you and your mental state. For the sake of your relationship with your partner, it’s important that you learn to support each other without judgement. Embrace that you will each have your own dynamic with your kid and that’s okay. It’s hyper-important to have cool, calm discussions with each other about discipline and dynamics outside of the hot moments, so that you can navigate the meltdowns without adding to the stress of them by battling each other. Compassion and empathy are key always and so is actively raising your kids to be the kind of adults who’ll thank you later for it, not wind up in therapy because of it. With that said, I mean… let’s be real, we’re all going to unintentionally send our kids into therapy for one reason or another. Don’t you blame 80% of your life issues on your parents? LOL
Shenae Grimes-Beech is an actor and YouTuber with a highly engaged community of like-minded women who are here to stand up for what they believe in and lean into discomfort, especially when it means doing the right thing.