he said, she said: it ain’t so pretty when we fight




  1. i have to agree with phil on this one. aren’t your kids not even 3 years old yet? in the developmental hierarchy, they are still learning right from wrong and punishment and reward, consequences…all of that. they don’t need to be negotiating with a parent figure yet. how do you expect them to respond to their future teachers?

  2. Thanks for posting this. My husband and I are much like you two. Not sure there is a right or wrong answer.

  3. Negotiating with your kids is a bad idea. What’s next, bribing them with candy?

  4. You are dressed so well! Content question- Have you considered doing a he said she said about cleaning? Do you have different styles there?

  5. I wish for the life of me I could remember the book that we used at this stage of our daughter’s development (toddlers). It was very much in line with your philosophy on parenting and giving them options. They’re at an age where they’re going to test their boundaries. You want to be able to give them choices so they feel like they have some level of control of their lives, a say in the decisions made. Now yes, many would argue, “they’re just toddlers”, but they’re also little people who are trying to make sense of their environment and relationships.

    My husband and I were all about giving them options and we were in agreement that that was how we were BOTH going to parent. To your point, yes, it takes time, and it’s more work, but our girls are now 6, 8 and 12 and they’re very respectful of all adults and understand that it’s not about older/younger, adult/child, but two human beings interacting. Is it perfect all of the time? Do they talk back and act disrespectfully sometimes (to their parents; never to other adults)? Yes. But it’s easier to rationalize with them having that history of open communication and respect. A history that I hope they’ll be able to take with them through their teen years and beyond, when I think we’ll all need it most.

    I think it’s worth trying.

    Good luck,

  6. You don’t negotiate with 2 1/2 year olds about bedtime, clean-up etc. They need authority and consistency to feel safe and secure. In addition, if your kids won’t listen to you then they will never listen to a teacher, etc. Phil is right.

  7. Parenting is much easier when divorced. Now, I have 90% power to do it my way, and they are only exposed to something else about 10% of the time. I started from a disadvantage. By divorce-time, ex-husband had demeaned me, beaten me down, and nearly convinced even me that I was a sucky parent. Over time, however, I learned a kinder way to rule my house than with an iron fist.

    It’s a combination of Stephanie and Phil – Offering options (both of which are acceptable), negotiating (with a time-limit), setting boundaries (that are immovable), but doing it in a gentle, nurturing way.

    Case in point (when they were little): Daughter: I am NOT wearing that to school. Me: Sure you are – but you can choose – do you want this uniform or this one? Daughter: You can’t MAKE me! Me: Yep, I can, but what’s got you so bugged about the uniform? Then it would usually come out that it itched, was too short, someone teased her, the pocket was ripped, whatever. Instead of forcing her to wear it, be miserable and uncomfortable, a little reasoned discussion ferreted out the problem. When, however, it continued…Daughter: Mom…I HATE this uniform and I HATE school and I’m not going. Me: Honey – it’s your job to go to school. You have five minutes to pull yourself together, and then we’re going. Period. Me: Leave the room…go do something else…don’t escalate the drama. Almost always, a little direction, a little suggestion and a little time would bring them around.

    They’re pretty well-adjusted teens now…we have few/none power struggles…and whenever they push the envelope, they almost always end up with the mantra ‘mom’s always right’. Chagrined, they acquiesce, and tuck away in their memories the calm, loving way to grow up.

  8. Yeah…sorry. I am with Phil with this one. It sounds like they give you a harder time and not listen as well because they have already figured out that they can and that you are the softy whereas they know that daddy means business. And that is a good thing at their age. Of course I came from a family where this whole negotiation thing would never have been an option. My mom or dad and said do this…we did it. No question. And that taught me to respect authority inside and outside a house. Because if i could negotiate with my parents why not a teacher or principle. And if they are testing you now when they are this age imagine what they will try to test you with when they are older. Love you! But I am with Phil. :)

  9. Phil is right – they need structure and consistent rules and outcomes. He comes off as smarter, saner and probably a much better parent. You, with your overenunciating,come off as a brat who will in turn raise brats. I just hope his next wife (their future stepmother) will be better at childrearing.

  10. gosh, there are just so many different ways to do it, aren’t there? i hope that you two can come to a middle ground on things. it seems like you’re doing something really right (both of you)- because your kids are just precious and sound very well behaved to me.

    ps- you look stunning in this video. from your hair down to your outfit. all of it!

  11. Too many people who negotiate with kids that age end up with spoiled brats. I’m with Phil’s Old School here. He’s not abusive just authoritative. Kids need that when pushing their limits and testing you.
    He’s awesome!

  12. I’m with you, Stephanie. 100%. It’s about respecting the developmental stages of a child and interacting with them as a human being while offering them consistent direction, instruction and authority to help them grow. With all due respect, your method is much, much more in tune with healthy emotional intelligence and developing into mature, happy and productive adults. The husband’s old school methods can be harmful to self-esteem and not necessarily even promote positive behaviors as they mature. Kids deserve to be engaged and asked questions and spoken to with respect and a genuine desire to undertsand what emotions are driving their behaviors. It takes more time, more patience and a commitment to be consistent, but your relationship with them will be driven by love, not fear. I would strongly recommend checking out early parenting expert Carrie Contey at http://www.earlyparenting.com. She’s fantastic and speaks to these issues and works with parents on disciplining toddlers without shame and punishment. Yes, it is possible and I do it with my “spirited” three year-old. It works.

  13. Something nobody else seems to have mentioned yet: You have to factor in your children’s personalities and what they are going to respond to. You might think that your parenting is what shapes their personality and temperament, but most parents after they have a second (temporally) that kids pop out of the womb with a lot of their temperament already determined.
    That said, Phil’s style might be better suited to kids who are already gregarious and confident, and simply need to know when there is a limit set — Stephanie’s style might easily be taken advantage of, and they could end up spoiled and not respecting authority. A more shy child might be intimidated by Phil’s style and just learn to be subservient — while Stephanie’s style might make them feel more respected and learn to be more confident.
    Not sure if your kids are similar in personality or not, and how that would work out in terms of fairness if they need to be parented a little bit differently. But I think it’s a mistake to think that both can be handled with the same universal parenting theory.

    1. I think Kat said it well. My parents could not negotiate with me as a kid. So my Dad, like Phil, said what was what and I did it, no questions. I needed limits set. But my brother was totally different in personality, and my mom had more success with the softer, negotiating style.

      Good luck, parenting is never easy!!

    2. Agreed. THIS is the answer. It’s not about us, the parents. The kid’s personality determines the best way to parent. It can still be tricky, though. My 5 year old son, is both an introvert and extrovert. He can be shy and a moment later, work the room like a skilled politician. Very charming, bold and loud, but extremely sensitive and self-concious at other times. What’s more confusing is that both sides seem authentic.

      Needless to say, sometimes my parenting style(Stephanie’s) works best and other times he will only respond to my husband’s (Phil’s).

  14. I get both sides to a certain extent. As for Phil, I agree that there are certain things that are ridiculous to negotiate at just under three years of age. Bed times, eat your vegetables, no throwing toys, etc, etc. I don’t think being firm and authoritative on aspects such as these is hindering any emotional development or teaching your children that their feelings mean nothing. I mean, honestly, a 3 year olds feelings on their bed time should be a non-factor. My parents would have had a field day had I tried to “negotiate” a later time. Puh-lease. And note, we aren’t talking about them having some sort of sleep disorder or being deathly afraid of monsters or nightmares or some other issue that’s mental here, just a child trying to stay up too late.

    But I like the idea of what 3 teen’s mom said. They have to go to school, they have to wear something that you approve of (whether it’s a uniform or not), but giving them a choice, or negotiating something like that (this outfit, this outfit or this outfit, but it’s gonna be one of these 2 or 3) allows your children to start expressing choice and voicing an opinion in some areas, without allowing them be able to negotiate every. single. aspect. of. the. day. That would be insane.

  15. I agree with Phil. The very best parents I’ve seen are extremely strict with children at a young age. They demanded appropriate behavior. As the children got older they knew what was expected of them and the parents could then lighten up and let them grow into their independence with a good foundation of behavior. If you set them up early, you can afford to be more easy going as they get older. If you negotiate with a toddler they learn manipulation to get what they want. It’s human nature. I think compromise is something you teach them once they learn a sold foundation of what is right and what is wrong. And when they are toddlers Mom and Dad are right, always. It’s a matter of safety and well being.

  16. I also agree there’s a compromise here somewhere; however, I’m leaning more toward Phil’s style. At their age, the tots NEED very strong boundaries from both their parents. It makes them more secure, stable, and well balanced. They need to know that when mama OR papa says “do this” or “don’t do that,” they mean business! If one of the tots does something unsafe, say runs into the street, both parents should feel secure that the tots are going to listen to them when they say, “Get over here!” or “Don’t touch that!”

    I agree that at their age, the tots don’t have the complex negotiation skills necessary for most activities. It’s one thing to say, “Do you want the red crayon or the blue one?” and another to say, “Do you want to pick up your toys or take a bath?” There shouldn’t be options to choices that teach toddlers basic manners, rules, respect, and right from wrong. But on the other hand, not every situation calls for a black or white reaction.

  17. I agree with Phil as well. (hm. gender bias, perhaps?) And you do interrupt him often. :-)

    But I’ve accepted that my wife and I have different styles when it comes to this, and so have the kids as well. Don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.

  18. I’m prior military and may have a slightly different perspective…

    The military fathers frequently were gone for extended periods leaving the wives to parent alone. While deployed I would hear the fathers talk about the kids not listening to their mother. The wives had a hard time getting the kids to behave. However, when the wives went out of town and left the children with the fathers the kids behaved fine.

    I think part of this is just normal behavior, from everyone. Mothers are more nurturing than fathers and children naturally take discipline easier from the father. Stephanie, Phil, and the twins are normal…

  19. I am a second grade teacher and I see children who are products of this new philosophy of “always giving children a choice and a say.” They are turning into big ol’ brats who will question, correct, and negotiate discipline. Sometimes saying “because I said so and I am the adult” sould be good enough.

  20. I can’t say that I really agree with either of you and frankly it doesn’t seem as though you’re actually discussing anything. The way the two of you argue is far more telling than the actual subject matter. I think you guys need to see a counselor together. You actually seem contemptuous of each other, a bit bored with your own dynamic, and miles away from enjoying raising your kids together. Sorry… Hope that doesn’t bum you out too much.

  21. Sorry, love, gotta go with Phil on this one. As the former lead teacher in a toddler room at a daycare, there is no negotiating at this age, because their reasoning skills are nil. Now I don’t agree that it’s got to be necessarily “you do what Papa says or else,” but they really don’t have the cognitive skills yet to really grasp why they need to do this, that or the other – they need strong and definitive boundaries. It needs to be “The stove is hot – no touch!” not “The stove is hot, now let’s talk about the degrees of hotness and when you might be able to touch the stove” or “Hitting hurts – no hit!” not “Hitting is not only harmful in a physical way, but it can also damage the psyche in later years. Here, hit this.” Once you’ve got these strong boundaries and a good foundation in place, and as they develop more, revisit the choices. NEVER negotiate! I do think you’ve got to get present a united front regarding your style of discipline quickly, or they’re going to learn how to run roughshod over both you in no time flat.

  22. Love you Steph…but I, too, am with Phil on this one. The twins I babysat listened to me and respected me when I told them they had to do something (clean up, eat, go to bed, etc). Yes, they got choices (which book do you want to read before bed?) but there is no negotiating on the fact that we’re going to bed.

    Their mom as it seems is more like you…and she ends up incredibly frustrated and the ones that suffer are the children. Because she’ll get so frustrated she’ll leave or go to her room. They drive her nuts.

    One example when they were 18 months old the girl twin decided that she didn’t like having her diaper changed anymore. So, through the whining and pining I would still change her diaper. This happened for about 2 or 3 days and then anytime I would say “Let me change your diaper, please” she would go straight to the area where we did this, she would lay down, and actually put her feet up in the air. And we turned it into a game of sorts cuz it truly was funny. Never had another problem with that.

    However, with her mom she’d break down again and start running away and then her mom would chase after her and then when her mom would grab her the little girl would start crying. At which point her mom would lose patience because she didn’t want to force her daughter to get her diaper changed but she couldn’t just leave her daughter with a dirty diaper.

    And that’s when I would be called to “swoop in”. If the mom had stepped up in the first place…there would be no need for “swooping in”. So I totally empathize with Phil. It’s no fun for us to have to swoop in….it is frustrating for us as well.

    And I think it’s so harsh to say it is an iron-fisted parenting style. I’m sure the twins love the hell out of Phil and have plenty of fun with him and I’m sure he gives them choices on things that an almost-3-year-old brain can handle.

    What time to go to bed is not something a 3 year old can decide on. If it were up to them they’d never go to bed and would just fall asleep whenever they can’t function anymore…..and if your twins have ever been overtired…you know that’s not a pretty sight.

    Best of luck though! I’m glad you’re at least having the discussion. But try it his way for a week or two and see what happens.

  23. The conversation in the video was overshadowed by the dynamic of your behavior toward eachother. Phil seemed completely dismissive, as if he was barely tolerating your input until he had the chance to speak. Your tone sounded rehearsed, like you were trying hard to be calm and reasonable- to phrase things in a contrived diplomatic way. You didn’t sound like the version of Stephanie that communicates so openly on this blog.

    I’m curious to know if you two truly/fundamentally respect each other’s intelligence and capabilities.

    1. I posted this as a reaction to the original video- where Phil is correcting you for holding the paper over your face while talking. Why the edit?

  24. i love these ‘he said, she said’ videos. they are hilarious.

    i’m a middle school teacher and i tend to relate to phil’s perspective. of course, i haven’t raised a child (yet!) and definitely haven’t done any reading on other methods like Stephanie has. after watching the video, i want to explore and read about that perspective.

    as a teacher, the one thing i will say is this: kids generally tend to want to get away with everything and anything and many kids actually thrive under clear boundaries. but, obviously, kids can thrive in other environments, too..

    phil does appear to be thinking that your method is bullshit, however.


    it might be tempting to label phil as old-school, hardline, etc etc etc, as a parent, but in the old days, fathers weren’t as involved with their kids, either. maybe phil is able to create the best of both worlds — a lot of love and affection and playing and quality time – but also with clear-ass boundaries and rules and authority in place.. dunnoo..

    i’m sure you are both doing an awesome job. abigail and lucas seem so sweet!

  25. Hi — I agree with Phil on this one. Particularly when they are this young — they have to know right from wrong, what time to go to bed, bathtime, etc. I live in NYC and boy, I see the products of what happens with you “negotiate” with children and “discuss” it with them, etc, etc. Spoiled beyond words, very very indulged, and you know what? The world does not care — there are times when you have to follow the rules and do what is right, etc, otherwise, there are consequences.

    I think it is ridiculous to have all these conversations with children this young. When they are older, yes, bur right now, you are setting yourself up for a long, hard road.

    Team Phil.

    Plus, children are smart. They know that if they can negotiate with you, and get what they want (even in their little minds) guess what — they will. You can be polite. You can be firm. You can be funny and kind. But they are like puppies (sort of) they need to know who the leader is, so they know who to follow. You are not all equals. You and Phil are the mom and dad, and they are the kids.

    Now, your interrupting Phil and accusing him of not taking you seriously, and using words like “blame” in parenting skills, etc, THAT is an entirely different conversation. I think your ego might be attached — that what “I” do is right, etc….

    Just a thought.

  26. Ok, I wasn’t going to reply, because we’re having a very similar struggle at my house this week, but I have teenagers not two year olds…so, being the voice of experience as they age, let me say this, about that :)

    We, jointly, felt like our kids should always be able to express their opinions. We would hear them out. We may not always be swayed by it, and we still have the final say, but they always get to express their view, rather than just hearing “because I said so”. Now, we refer to our children, as “the prosecuting attorney” and “the public defender”.
    Heh…just sayin..be careful what you wish for. My kids can battle with words with the best of them. The oldest, always has at least three arguments in her head for any situation.

    I think the main thing you need to do, is back each other up always…whoever gets tagged first as the disciplinarian in the situation, the other parent has to say yep, they’re right, mind your (mother or papa) So they don’t feel like they can walk all over you if they whine or argue about it long enough.

    And my side story for this week…my 14 yr old son’s grades suck…so I said, starting tomorrow, you can walk to and from school, spend that time thinking about getting your homework done. When your grades improve, you’ll have taxi service again. What happened? He talked his dad into taking him to school for the last 3 days….Grrr….back each other up!!

  27. One of the best books I ever read on the subject and the one we use to this day in raising our daughter is Setting Limits. The basic lesson is, say what you mean and mean what you say. Don’t threaten punishments you can’t or won’t deliver on (if you don’t put away your toys, I am going to take them away forever). Don’t negotiate things that are non-negotiable (example bed time, school time, etc). Don’t raise your voice unless imminent bodily harm is about to befall one of them if you don’t get their attention (example – they take off running into the street with a car coming). Speak calmly and let them know in advance what the consequence of their action or non action will be, then follow through. In essence, place the responsibility with them. It really works from the toddler years to the tween years. I’ll let you know when we get to the teen years. We used time out, we’ve never spanked and so far we have a well behaved kid. Yes we slip up and raise our voices on occasion, but all in all it has been effective.

    Having said that, I will say that every child is different and some fall in line faster than others, but the key is being consistent. That’s the hard part. I don’t think you need to scare them into doing what you say or coddle and negotiate them into it, but the sweet spot is somewhere in between. Good luck. Parenting is always easier from the outside.

  28. i noticed this as well – and i found it particularly interesting since it came so soon after another post about how the “man needs to love the woman just a little more.” i didn’t see that here. i didn’t see much love here, to be honest.

  29. Okay. No. So you bring up the point that he calls something a failure, but repeatedly you mention the word successful in such a context as to blatantly intimate that what he is doing is not successful; i.e., a failure. So you both lose points on that one. Going forward, negotiating with a toddler is, “Would you rather read this book or that book before bedtime? Would you rather have Mario or Suzie over for playtime?” Giving them choices is one thing, negotiating another. They are still very young and testing their boundaries. You don’t let them negotiate the fundamentals otherwise they will never feel safe and secure enough to get to a point where they can negotiate effectively as adults; a.k.a. the wishy-washy adult. I think you need to expand upon this idea of respecting a toddlers opinions. It sounds like a whole mess of grey area.

  30. I agree, especially on the ego bit. Stephanie, I get that you want to nurture the children’s spirit, and that’s wonderful, but this is not the place.

    As others have said, children need consistency, safety, and stability.

    Whatever you two decide, please for the love of god, agree on how you raise your children. IF the twins have already figured out that they can manipulate you at this age, and don’t have to behave unti Papa is home, how do you think it will play out when they get older? Unfortunately, I have seen this issue contribute to divorce in marriage (where it was so completely sad, as they loved each other).

    Sometimes, it is not about ego; you gotta take one for the team.

  31. Stephanie,

    I’ve sided with you on most “he said/she said” issues. But, not on this.

    I agree with all who have posted that kids need limits and structure to feel secure. I understand why Phil swoops in. Listening to an adult “negotiating” with a couple of two year-olds would be like hearing nails on a blackboard.”Get to bed, NOW,” I’d be screaming (furious at you for bringing the situation about).

    In Phil’s shoes, I’d resent having to be the bad guy just to get peace.

  32. Author

    I must not have been clear when I said I’m still an authority. I never negotiate when it comes to bedtime, cleaning, getting dressed, to school, etc. I give time outs for inappropriate behavior, and they know they can only come out of “time out” if they correct the behavior, even if it means they sit in time out all day. That’s all me, by myself, done. Of course they listen to me when I tell them not to walk in the street, go near the hot stove, etc.

    BUT, when it is bedtime, and the kids are in their beds but crying hysterically when we get up to leave their room, after reading them a book, I KNOW there’s a way to calm them down without picking them up.

    Here’s the difference. Phil will simply say, “goodnight, we love you.” And he’ll leave, let them scream. Whereas I will come over to their beds, rub their backs, and tell them why they need their rest, all the fun things we have planned tomorrow, and that ALWAYS settles them down, with happy thoughts of tomorrow. Then I leave. If they start crying again, I do NOT go back in unless the crying continues over 5 minutes (which it never does). I’ve found that “my way” settles and calms them, with a pleasant parting. It feels very “all is right” to me. But Phil gets irritated when I do this, saying they’re manipulating me. But I don’t see how they are. Sure, they’re stalling for time, but they DO let me leave, they stay in their beds, and they fall asleep with smiles instead of tears.

  33. Thanks for the video. What I think is interesting here is not whether Husband Parenting Style is superior to Wife Parenting Style or vice versa. Rather, I think the intriguing question is how to handle the conflict or tension that will inevitably crop up about the minutiae of parenting. Kids, even very young kids, are very smart creatures and I think they can intuit when there is discord amongst their parents. I think they can pick up on the inconsistency and confusion that inheres in even the most loving household. So, my question is how to shield kids from the unavoidable Hes Said/She Said scenarios, how to present a unified front when said front might be far from unified?

    Thanks for the video and the peek into what is a universal conflict among the parenting population.

  34. I am having the same disagreement with my husband, the same dynamic with my children (listen to Dad, not to me), and the same bedtime crying-parental response. No advice, just telling you that you are not alone!

  35. Pingback: When Parents Disagree - Motherlode Blog - NYTimes.com

  36. This was kind of painful to watch…you both are very sure your method is the only way, and that just makes it harder. That said, I don’t believe you can negotiate any of this in front of your kids. In my family, it’s polar opposite. I don’t have twins, but two girls 20 months apart, so it feels a lot like twins. My husband is the softer of the two of us, and early on I *DEEPLY* resented that I had to step in to be the bad guy. I know you’ve said you can get them to do things, it just takes time. My husband was completely ineffective, and as far as something that needs to be done when children are completely wiped out and exhausted, time only made things lonver and painful. So he (learned? chose?) to give in and let me take the strong lead. Now they are 7 1/2 and 9 and STAND OUT in their school, as two of only a handful of children who behave and don’t talk back. I’m terrified as I type this after volunteering today and seeing the number of children who talk back and flat out can’t control themselves. Parenting is terrifying and there is a lot of confusion. Just know that the happiest kids are those who have clear expectations and rules, and honestly the kids would be better off of either expectations if their parents are happy and together…both physically and mentally. Easier said than done I know. There were times when my girls were little that I daydreamed of leaving my husband, honestly.

  37. I have been reading this blog for years. I don’t always agree with you and sometimes I think Phil is complete ass. But in the past year, your blog sometimes becomes painful to read. Your blog posts of what a wonderful caring man Phil is,{which I am sure he is} are drowning and don’t ring true in the light of the frequency of the unhappiness and anger post. The thing I have always dug about you is that you don’t buy into the whole victim persona. You picked yourself up after a excruciating end of a relationship that you very much seemed to cherish. You shot them the bird by carrying on with grit and determination and panache in high heels. I admire the hell out of that. In many post of the past and in your book you alluded to wanting a “Man” who would call you on your bullshit, someone strong enough to meet you to to toe and have the courage of his convictions to fight it out with you. No more Mama’s boys. Well these Men are a tuff nut to crack.

    Having wanted that myself and then received what I wished for, it is harder to live with the reality of that then the fantasy. I am not attacking Phil at all, but I will say that if my Mate spoke to me in the condescending fashion that Phil does in the VIDEOS that you post, it would be the dawn of a new Ice Age in my home. Both of you are right. Children want and need hard boundaries. But they never forget those moments at night when they stole a few extra moments and got the extra attention that they needed. They are toddlers, the sleep thing is a phase. You and Phil have been through quite a lot and I have taken a lot of inspiration from your recounting of that. The video just bummed me out.

  38. A more “pleasant parting” for you children will be if they can learn to calm and sooth themselves without you. Going to bed is routine, so they shouldn’t need you to jump through extra hoops to ease them through something that occurs every day. Maybe on an occasion if they were sick or scared all that stuff might be appropriate.

    But really even at his age kids need to learn to roll with life’s little inconveniences (like bedtime) without their parents’ help. You are introducing uncertainty in their life and potentially adding stress by being so reactive to them. If the response is always, “I love you goodnight,” they won’t need to wonder what you’ll do if they cry…will it be a back rub? or maybe an extra story?

    Don’t be reactive, be consistent. If you would like, give them a back rub or talk about tomorrow (but beware of starting an overly elaborate bedtime routine) go ahead. But do it as part of the regular nighttime routine, not because they are demanding.

  39. My personal belief on this is actually an amalgamation of both views. I believe in letting my kids develop an opinion and letting them put their points across as to why or why not.

    At the end of these ‘negotiations’ though. The decision is ultimately mine. If a good arguement is put up, then I will give in and let them have that additional 5mins of play time or whatever.

    I guess the important thing at the end of the day is that they understand that there are boundaries, and even though these boundaries can be tested and sometimes broken through. Ultimately, they are still there.

    I’m constantly amazed by the rationalisations my 3 year old comes up with. Another joy of parenting. :)

  40. Your way leads to a later bedtime, No? I understand the need for a mother to soothe her children, but telling them why they need their rest, explaining to them the wonders that await them in the morning, is just another example of bribery.

    Telling them why they need their rest will lead to telling them why they need to do their homework (as I recall as a child, not all homework was useful and some was flat out busy work, but it had to get done, right? Just because) or telling them why they need to apply to more than one college or telling them why they need to do whatever.

    Telling them about the great day they will have tomorrow if they go to bed now is the same as “if you go to bed, there will be arts and crafts and cookies tomorrow, YAY!” If promises of fun in the morning is your go to method to get them to do something as basic as bedtime, then I’m totally team Phil.

    Why you feel the need to explain so much is beyond me. My gut feeling after reading here for so long is that you were and are still so insecure (something Phil has pointed out in your videos) that you are going so overboard in trying to raise children who NEVER know what it’s like not to be heard. But the reality is, children need to be children. Which means they get to be care free, and playful and protected, but also have rules that they must follow simply because we are the adults and they are the children. No explanation needed. non-negotiable, no coddling.

    It’s no wonder there is a generation of entitled brats coming up now (my generation included. We 20-somethings are horrid at times. With our lack of focus and our facebooking at work).

  41. I’m just wondering what will happen when the kids are older. I think that in the long term the kids will be less likely to open up to Phil about things that are going in their life than to Stephanie. They will be afraid of the no tolerance response but more likely to tell Stephanie because she might empathise or try to understand or be more sympathetic. I think Phil has to be careful that his method doesn’t lead to secrets and lies. My son is now 4 1/2 and has only recently started whispering into my ear not to tell papa about certain things. I asked why and he said cos papa will be angry. I’m not sure that papa would as he doesn’t get angry that often but is instead firm with him and a non negotiator.

  42. I wonder why my comments have not been posted the last few times. I said I agreed with Phil here (nothing negative about you) and in your family post I said nice things (and about your mom too) and both didn’t post. Very strange.. do you just not post what you like? I notice you let some vile posts go through though . Once in a while I will be shocked at what someone writes and then see immediate defend Stephanie posts. Maybe that’s fun. Disappearing comments I take time to write.. sort of makes me not want to read this blog anymore.

  43. Stephanie, I don’t know if I admire your bravery for putting this out there, or if I think you’re crazy for inviting strangers to comment on your parenting style(s).

    Everyone who becomes a parent thinks they’re the first to have done it. They think know best, that there way is right, and anything other than what they’re already doing is Wrong with a capital W. But let’s face it everyone is different. Some people aren’t cut out to be heavy-handed, while others couldn’t parent differently if they tried. And every child is different, too. Some people raised in strict households turn out to be well-mannered adolescents, others become rebels without a cause. There are so many factors that go into raising children, including the influences they’re exposed to outside of the home, that there is no sure-fire way to do it.

    Keep your kids safe. Play with them. Love them. Fix your issues with Phil out of their earshot and, more importantly than which style of parenting you choose, be a united front. If you’re not your kids will learn to play you two against each other from now until infinity.

    Good luck!

  44. I agree with you Jennifer. I have three grown daughters and my parenting style was much more like Phil’s while my ex husband’s was totally laissez faire. Had I to do it over, I would be much less about making my kids comply with random standards of what I thought was “right” and “wrong”, because while they appeared to respect and obey me, once they were old enough to make their own wishes known, and were big enough to follow through with them regardless of my wishes, we had not developed a channel for open communication in which I knew how to reach them, and they knew how to talk to me in a cooperative way. I wasn’t a drill sargent; I was under the mistaken impression that my “authority” meant I got to decide pretty much everything in our family. I am so grateful and blessed that my children taught me to see the light through their adolescent rebellion. It forced me to rethink the kind of relationship I really wanted with them, and what was truly most important in their, and my, life.
    Additionally, I didn’t play enough with them. In the case above, how about “Hey, let’s play a game. Let’s see who puts away the most toys in the shortest amount of time. The winner gets…….” Or more cooperatively, “if we get it done in under 10 minutes, we all get…..” I bet the kids themselves would come up with some even better ideas for “putting away toy games”.

  45. I completely agree with you, Stephanie. I’ve seen many a 3-5 year old that behaves for (authoritative) Mommy but the second she walks away – all bets are off. I think people are reactiing to the word “negotiation”. Everything I have read also talks about giving toddlers some control over their little worlds to avoid temper tantrums. Which is limited choices that many people have described.

    I don’t think it’s the end of the world for the two of you to have slightly different parenting styles just like I’m sure you both play differently with them. They have two different relationships with each of you and you are individuals. I just think you both need to respect the other’s style and not jump in and undermine.

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