Do Differences Make The Difference?

Alright, so I just had a thought and I wanted to get it down. These thoughts might be a little bit jumbled because I’m just writing as I think…

Consistency vs. opposites. I’m thinking about parenting methods. Couples talk through their parenting beliefs, how many kids they want or if they want kids at all etc etc before really getting serious in a relationship (usually). It’s believed that you want a partner that has the same beliefs as you do when it comes to parenting methods. Whether or not to spank. Whether or not to start education before kindergarten. How to dole out punishment or maybe not to punish at all. There are hundreds of different methods out there.

And it’s generally agreed that your partner has to totally agree with you.

But… is that really true?

Bear with me here.

If we have to agree on everything, then why is the saying “opposites attract” so well known? I mean, yeah, you’re typically not going to find a lazy slob and a health nut in a serious and healthy relationship. There’s bound to be conflict there that just can’t be accepted.  But on the whole, with “opposites” you tend to find that perfect amount of adventure and self-realization when you find that person that complements you.

Maybe parenting should be the same way. Complementing.


Now, I don’t mean one parent should be a bully while the other parent turns the other cheek to everything. But maybe there’s something to the whole “good cop bad cop” thing.

I just wonder about this because I see SO many kids taking advantage of their parents these days. “Opposite” parents rely so heavily on  being on the same page that they compromise on their methods to the point of crippling themselves.

I can see kids nowadays laughing in the face of their mother who says, “Just wait until your father gets home!” Why? Because their father isn’t the bad cop anymore. Their father isn’t someone to fear anymore as “the parent who you do not want to cross”. Their father will probably just come home and say/do the exact same thing that failed to work with the kids in the first place.

Why don’t we adjust? Why don’t we improvise when things don’t work? Why don’t we switch things up now and again and keep our kids on their feet. Why do we stick so resolutely to one parenting method when we have two kids with two very different personalities that act and react completely differently to different situations?! WHY?!

Why are we making it so easy to be taken advantage of by our own children?! We are parents for a reason. We are the authority for a reason. Why do we put so much stock in these parenting methods created by complete strangers just because they have a PhD? So what if they’re the topmost authority in field A and field B. In my opinion, the theories sound great, but kids just can’t be categorized so easily. Kids have a whole range of different personalities, so one parenting method just does not suffice.

And in the big picture: How do we ever raise them to respect rules and authority if they don’t respect us? How do we honestly expect our kids to survive in today’s society and handle rejection and disappointment if we don’t force them to face the reality of rejection and disappointment in the comfort of their own home? No… I’m not saying make their lives a living hell. But why has it become so hard for parents to say NO and MEAN IT?

“Opposite parenting” can bring out the possibility of different parenting methods for different personalities and different situations. Sometimes the fit-thrower just doesn’t respond to positive reinforcement like the eager pleaser. Sometimes the wall flower blossoms under gentle encouragement while the attention-seeker thrives under strict structure.

So why don’t we let Dad continue to be the beast at the dinner table and Mom be the beast about bedtime routines (while the other parent couldn’t care less)? Why don’t we tailor parenting methods to our kid’s specific needs?

I can see plenty of flaws and loopholes in my thoughts here, but I think I might be on to something and I intend to look further into it.

As Mrs. Sparklenose – the fairy teacher from The Flying Fairy School on Sesame Street – once said – “Sometimes differences make the difference.”

What do you think? Do differences make the difference or am I just plain crazy?