What kind of parents you were/are? How did it work with different types of kids?


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Me and my husband have lately needed to think about our parenting roles and how much we can and want to try to make changes to that to get desirable respond.

Our own kids are now more or less adults and our relationships with them is another matter, but we have two young respite kids with different set of strengths and challenges than our own kids. They have been in our lives now almost year and half and over time we have of course got attached to the, they are attached to us and we have worked out more flexible schedule with their mother than the original, so we have them bit more than official timetable would suggest. Usually every third or fourth weekend from Friday afternoon to Sunday night and once or twice between those weekends in weekend usually so that we pick them up from school at afternoon and take them to school next morning. 9-year-old girl with no diagnosis, but taking too much of an adult role in many ways. Bossy and high-stressed child. Can loose her temper, when gets overwhelmed. And 6-year-old boy with mildish asperger. Gets stuck easily, sensory issues, has some violent meltdowns and seems to have tic-type swearing and other undesirable behaviours but is a very sweet boy. Trouble in peer relationships, non-verbal cues and typical aspie issues with language too. They are siblings and they have other siblings, one having severe special needs. Single mom, no father in picture and not much support network (which is why mother asked for respite family for support.) In near future we will have them much more than normally due mother's medical.

We have some issues with adjusting our parenting styles to better fit needs of these kids and I would like to hear experiences what kind of approaches have worked for you.

My husband has always had rather traditional parenting role. He has been provider, protector, disciplinarian and one encouraging our boys to try and face the world. He has rather stereotypic 'alpha male' routine going on, he is big, loud and has tendency to act dominating ways. Likes to be centre of an attention, jovial and well liked by most people. Tends to gravitate towards leadership roles. He always had huge troubles taking more nurturing approach with Ache, but did much better in that with Joy and does well with our respite girlie. Has again troubles with the boy. I feel he is often too short and impatient with the boy and that scares him (and makes him more likely to get stuck and have a meltdown.) I assume there is something similar in our respite boy as in our Insolent Whelp that irritates husband in subconscious level and makes it difficult for him to emphasize with them.

I had two somewhat distinct roles with my boys. With Ache I was most often the trainer, teacher, coach etc. I basically spent most of my time training him like a dog (basically with clicker in other hand and bag of treats in other), teaching him tricks (how to say Hi and look other person to eyes when meeting) and rooting habits (at morning we first go to bathroom, pee, wash our hands, brush our teeth, change our pyjama to day clothes, then come to kitchen and have oatmeal for breakfast.) With Joy I started from the beginning with attachment parenting (co-sleeping, babywearing and all that) and basically relayed to that bond from there on. He of course got his own part of my dog training and habit rooting methods aside of Ache but in reality I brought him up with having long talks with him to implant my values to him, explaining things to him, being very permissive and indulgent and relaying his empathy and sense of right and wrong in things. I can't remember really punishing him or giving him even consequences before he hit teens. If he did something wrong, I just talked it through with him and explained what was wrong in that.

With our respite boyo, dog training methods seem to work quite nicely, but neither of my former styles works well with the girlie. She does entertain me if I can come up with something cool to do, but otherwise it seems that my attempts generate mostly contempt in her. Unfortunately I at times find myself in battle of wills with a nine-year-old and being less than positive with her. And you can all probably guess how well that works out. She has very understandable reasons to try to overstep her boundaries, but she also would need just those boundaries to have an experience of being a kid. She tends to challenge me much more than husband to whom she tends to be sweet as a pie (yes, she triangulates some.)
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By the way, some of you will enjoy this:

"Stubborn otherness" is the reason my husband cites for his trouble to relate to our respite boyo. And he does admit it brings Ache to his mind.

Interestingly he has never really admitted before he had trouble relating to Ache, but of course social pressure to admit you have trouble bonding with your own kid is bit different than admitting, that you don't really get your respite kid, with neuro-diagnosis nonetheless.
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Boys and girls are different. I don't know how to actually put that into words or explanations, but...it's like boys are protective of their mothers and butt heads more often with the father. Both of my girls have different fathers and both were treated much gentler than the boys and both girls desperately wanted daddy's love. Jumper has it unconditionally and their relationship is wonderful. Julie can not have that kind of relationship with her father, but she still "works" him when she can.

I don't really know what I want to say other than raising a boy and raising a girl are different. You find yourself acting differently. Girls mature earlier and many are more outspoken earlier and those who need a father in her life may want to bond with your husband and resent you? Just guessing here.

Of course a lot depends on what has gone on in her life with her own parents and whether or not she has disabilities or emotional problems. Maybe somebody who can articulate it better can explain the difference, if they also felt one. I don't necessarily feel girls are more difficult, although that's the stereotype. I think it depends on the girl. Jumper was always easy. Julie was more challenging because she was always sensitive. But 37 was the hardest of all.


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Suzir, I want to applaud you for the job you are doing. BRAVO!
I think it depends upon the kids.
My husband and I lean toward lenient vs very strict. When we were raising easy child, we went by instinct and she picked up on it.
That went out the window with-difficult child. We had to re-learn every part of parenting.


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It's such a wonderful thing that you are doing for these kids and their mom.

It's kinda like step-parenting...You are not the real parent and some kids will resent you trying to act like one.

You have to work first on an adult/child friend relationship. Earn their trust and respect.

Mostly, let them talk. Follow their lead. They will probably let you know what they need from you.

Have some one-on-one time with each.

After you have a relationship, the parenting part will flow naturally.

Scent of Cedar *

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Are you willing to share with us what your native language is, SuZir?

You write beautifully, and with great clarity. Your description of the white picket fence and the man who gave it to you is genius, presenting the family dynamic in just a few well chosen words and images.

It is a pleasure to read you.


Because of the abuse in my past, the last thing I did, every night, every night of my life, was review how the day had gone. How had I veered from the mom I wanted to be, how could I do better, what was I doing right.

What was I doing wrong.

It was scary for me in so many ways. I knew what not to do, but I think I was not a big, strong, reassuringly normal mom. For the longest time, once I finally got it that I hadn't done anything overt to harm either of my kids to account for what happened to all of us, then I started wishing I had been that stronger, louder, more self centered mom who parents so casually and so well.

The very kind of mom I was always so busy looking down on, back in the day before our lives fell apart.


Parenting difficult child children changes many things, breaks us in many ways.

And then, MWM started sharing the genetics information at a time when I was able to hear it. And 2much2recover began sharing what she knows of genetics too, and of "gaslight."

And I was golden.

What I believe now is that there are many different styles of parenting. Almost every style is good enough. (When I was parenting young kids, I kept that on the fridge. Something to the effect that loving your kids and being a good enough mom was just fine, was good enough.) We were all about Dr. Lee Salk at our house, and about Benjamin Spock.

D H swore for years that was the problem.

He still gets flaky when someone talks about bolstering a child's self esteem.

He is right, I think. True self respect only comes through challenge.

Even moms cannot manufacture that one.

It's when things go wrong that we go over our parenting techniques with laser-like efficiency. Given the outcome, there is no way we are not going to come out of that examination feeling we have failed in this, that, or the next particular instance or way. But here is the thing: If our outcomes had been different, we would all be preening away, basking in the reflected glory of successful kids.

Once we have read here long enough, we begin to see the patterns in the ways our kids respond, and in the problems they present with. We will hear about moms who have both kinds of kids.

And we ease up on ourselves a little.

And I think that is healthier for the whole family.

Once we can stop blaming ourselves, we can actually re-engage our brains and make changes in the way we interact with our kids. They still need help, long after a normal child would have been independent. Our difficult child kids seem to value our opinions on things overmuch. They seem to hate us and love us and need us and detest us for that, so we have to be very strong, very centered in ourselves to stand up to that level of need.

There seems to be so little that comes out right for our difficult child kids.

But what I have found is that I can really enjoy them ~ that simple little feeling of joy that is possible when responsibility has not turned joy into terror or even worse, horror. (Which is terror come true. Terror is what might happen. Horror is what did happen...or what is happening, now. It could be what is happening, now, too.)

Where was I.

Basically, I do believe genetics plays the major role. If we are abusing our kids, that is going to cause all kinds of things, of course. But in the normal course of events, parenting should be what we all believed it was going to be, until we had been parenting our difficult child kids for some time.

First, we blamed ourselves.

Then, we opened our eyes.

And now, we are coming to grips with parenting kids who seem to need us more than the average bear.

I am employing so many of the techniques we talk about here on the site. I think these things have been helpful to me in learning to stop judging myself or my children.

And in learning to judge my mother and family of origin, and to separate myself from all that without guilt, and without feeling responsible for the weird things they do.

So, that's good then.