When Ikaika misbehaves at school and we hear about it from the teachers, my husband brings down the hammer. Clean the garage when you get home. You will finish your dinner with no dessert. No stories at night, straight to bed. "Sorry you are having a rough night, next time you should listen to your kumu." Even if they already gave him a consequence at school, the punishment at home is a five hour ordeal.
Last night, I was at work while my four year old was completing acts of penance. I wonder if he will feel loved even if we are hard on him over seemingly minor offenses. I worry that he will start to think of himself as unworthy or a failure, even though we both love him very much and think he's awesome. I know that it will never be "fair" when compared with his brother. As I steam milk and pull espresso shots, I am internally fretting over my baby's fragile little psyche.
It would be so easy for me to step in and tell Mr A how unreasonable he is being. It would be even easier for me to intercept the information and then handle it myself, in a way that is more comfortable for me. A stern look, a short talking to. You know, reinforce whatever the teacher said.
But is that truly what is best for my children?
I might not agree with my husband's way of handling our son's behavior, but I don't have all the answers either. We do have the same vision and values, because of this I should trust him. He might be too hard on them, but that doesn't make his discipline unnecessary or even a detriment to their upbringing.
Last night I thought about all this and realized that my husband is going to have to be responsible for his choices and I will be responsible for mine. I can show my children forgiveness and acceptance (sometimes too much) and my husband can set boundaries and high expectations (sometimes too high), somewhere in the middle will lie our collective "parenting style". In many ways, the boys are very fortunate to get both. Some kids only get one or the other.
I don't know what is going to "stick" with them. And I can't predict how they will respond to their experiences. One day, Ikaika might say that cleaning the garage shows we paid attention to him and he learned a lot. Or he might say that he felt lonely and unloved. There is no way of knowing how he will process all this.
All I do know is that when he gets in the car and says with big wet eyes "please don't tell Daddy." I have to resist the part of me that wants him to always be happy. I have to do what is best for him and let him know that we work together and anything I know, Daddy will know, too. Then I have to suck it up and let my husband be his father.