Earlier this year, The Root did a series of interviews with black couples who are making love work. Two of the couples — one part of a blended family and another a lesbian couple — were asked about the difficulties of raising families, and disciplining children led the list.
The blended-family couple — Lamar and Ronnie Tyler, the founders of the site Black and Married With Kids — had a scenario very similar to your own. Ronnie entered the marriage with two children from a previous relationship, and Lamar had none. Initially she believed that he was hard on her son, who was about the same age as your child. (Ronnie’s daughter was a baby, so the discipline factor didn’t come into play as much.)
Lamar insisted, much like your husband, that he would treat his own biological children similarly — and when the couple had children together, he lived up to the promise. I share their story with you so you know that your husband’s stance on what he would do with his biological children isn’t so far-fetched.
In order to work through this issue, the Tylers told me that they had to have several frank conversations — note the plural, because the matter wasn’t solved overnight — about their differing styles of discipline. Through their communication, they recognized that they both wanted what was best for the kids, but they just had differing ways of going about it.
They talked often — and out of the earshot of their children — about their differing styles of discipline, their expectations for each other as disciplinarians and, of course, what was best for their children. They realized that both of them had some changes to make for the benefit of their family. Ronnie had to ease up on some on her protectiveness, and Lamar had to adjust some aspects of his discipline style. When both of them made concessions, they were able to find a comfortable middle ground that worked for them and the children.
I hope you can follow the Tylers’ example and reach the same place.
Demetria L. Lucas is a contributing editor to The Root, a life coach and the author of A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life. She answers your dating and relationship questions on The Root each week. Feel free to ask anything at firstname.lastname@example.org.