'Difficult' child, difficult parental relationships
When Everett was two, his tantrums (while oh-so-not-what-I-expected in the rosy months of pregnancy and infancy) seemed developmentally appropriate. I chatted with other mamas about our children's so-called "normal" behavior. Sure, he was on the energetic, stubborn end of the child spectrum, but I loved his spirit, and his hugs and loving words were indications to me that I had nothing to worry.
And then, he turned four. And then, he turned four-and-a-half. And slowly I began to think my child didn't seem so "normal" anymore. His tantrums, instead of lessening, worsened. Over the past few months they've been epic, earth-shattering. I've started to search for a label a little stronger than "energetic" and definitely not "spirited." (No. Oh no.) Whether that label is "ADHD" or "bipolar" (probably not, but sometimes...) or "defiant" (yuck) or, more kindly, "explosive/inflexible" -- well, something's going on. I should not be getting in screaming battles with my four-year-old about brushing his teeth. He should not have such a well-developed and well-used repertoire of swearwords.
It's been hard on my husband and I, as we have different experiences with him (Everett's worst and most awful tantrums are saved for time alone with me, even though he professes to love me best and always apologizes, kissing and hugging and telling me how much he loves me, later) and, well, we have different approaches to parenthood. I'm a reader, he's a "didn't it work for 1000s of years?" kind of guy. ("NO!" is my response.)
Anyway, we've been working through it as best we can, starting with a parenting class we'll take tonight, and following with more individual expert advice for both us and, perhaps, for Everett. The thing I fear most is that our problems are not so-called "normal," and I've seen many a relationship destroyed for more prosaic disagreements. Have you had a hard time negotiating discipline (whether or not your parenting picture is more or less normal), too? What's been your best relationship-saving strategy?