Baggage Check: Dealing with differences in child discipline, religion
Q: A friend of mine is always disciplining my daughter in ways I do not agree with. My daughter is only 3, and my friend expects her to always be perfect with her pleases and thank-yous, to share perfectly with her daughter, etc. How do I tell her to loosen up?
A: If you’re going to be friends for the long haul, you’ll need to find a way to manage your different parenting styles without passive-aggressiveness or thrown Gogurts. You have options: have an in-depth heart-to-heart with her, address each incident as it comes, bite your tongue and find outside ways of coping or spend less time with her. I vote for the first one. Say, “I’ve noticed you and I have different philosophies and expectations about this 3-year-old stage. For instance, I’m not as strict when she misses a ‘please’ at home. How should we bridge this when we’re together so that our girls get a consistent message?”
Q: I’ve been dating a guy who could be the love of my life. He’s Jewish, and his faith is important to him. I’m Christian. I’m not as tied to my faith as he is, but I have mixed feelings about converting, which is something he’s made clear that he would expect if we got married. We have friends with mixed-faith marriages that I would like to emulate. But he’s convinced we need to be united in our faith. I feel like if I start a marriage having changed something so big about myself, that’s not a good precedent.
A: Everyone has different thresholds for what they’re willing to change before marriage. For some people, changing toothpaste brands is too much. Here are some questions that can help: Is he uncompromising in other ways? Would conversion and following the faith be a one-off deal, or might he start expecting you to do more to fit his ideals? And the mixed-faith marriages that are unattractive to him – why, exactly?