In my job I often work with parents of students with special educational needs (SEN).
During our sharing sessions, many mothers confided that their misery comes not from their SEN kids but from their husbands or the children’s grandparents.
“My husband does not take mental disorders in children seriously,” one mother said at a meeting of SEN parents’ support group.
“He believes that modern parents are just overlabeling and overreacting as every one of us had grown up fine without acknowledging the existence of such illnesses.”
Another mother said: “It is very difficult to maintain a consistent parenting style in my family. While I have set up a reward and punishment system for my son and daughter in the hope of reinforcing their good behaviors and discouraging the bad ones, my husband just comes home after work with bags of snacks or toys for the kids.
“That’s why my children don’t feel the need to abide by the system and they think I’m just being unduly strict. In short, the father is always the good one.”
Another member of the group was equally frustrated: “Parenting would definitely be easier if it just involves my husband and me. But then your own parents get involved and spoil their grandchildren. But we can’t do anything because we are both working parents.”
Everyone in the group started suggesting solutions for the problems raised.
Most of the mothers agreed that their husbands are too carefree. And so if the husbands are not cooperating or even contradicting the mothers’ parenting style, it would be better to ask them to stay away so the mothers could take charge until their children show some improvement.
Meanwhile, the mothers would try to convince their husbands to be in line with the parenting style.
Dealing with grandparents is a lot more tricky, the mothers agreed.
The only thing they could do is to strengthen communications with their parents.
Alternatively, they could try to convince their grandparents of the advantages of adopting a consistent parenting style by inviting them to get advice from professionals such as psychiatrists, social workers or teachers.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on May 22
Translation by John Chui
[Chinese version 中文版]
– Contact us at [email protected]