It’s not unusual for parents to argue about parenting. We all come from different homes where we were treated differently as kids. One home may have had yelling and reactive parenting role models while the other had more passive and wavering. This causes fights between Mom and Dad, which results in more family conflicts and less resolutions to the problem at hand.
If you are ever frustrated with being at odds with your spouse in your parenting strategy, you may feel like you will never see eye-to-eye when it concerns the kids. Getting on the same page as parents is not easy, but it can be done if both parties are willing to work at it. Here are the guidelines I give parents to help them blend polar opposite parenting strategies.
Take the First Step of Acknowledgement.
Sometimes it is hard for parents to see and admit that they are not on the same page. But recognizing the differences in your parenting approaches and resolving to do something about it is the first step. Find someone who can help you talk through these differences and look for ways to bridge the gap. I can help you as a parenting coach. Schedule a free intro consultation here.
Take that first step to make a change. NOTHING will change unless YOU decide to change.
CHANGE will start as you incorporate these parenting habits:
Get on the same page every day. Our pre-marital counselor suggested we touch base briefly when we get back together at the end of each day. We started this practice in 1982 when we were married and figured out a way to do it through raising three kids and still do it to this day.
This coming together can take on several forms. When they are babies, you may have this conversation while holding a little one. When they get older, you may let them play for a few minutes in the other room while you talk. When they are older, you may talk in the car as you drive to their youth sports event. Some of these conversations may not happen until the kids are in bed. But they should always happen.
You can start by simply sharing highs and lows from the day. Knowing what your spouse has encountered will help you understand why they are grumpy, frustrated, tired or why they are in high spirits.
Resolve to not disagree about a discipline issue in front of the kids. You will disagree on parenting, but you should not do it in front of the kids. If you don’t agree on an issue, tell your child that Mom and Dad have to discuss this and they will talk about it in a few minutes. Go into another room and come to a response that you can agree on.
A united front is important for parents otherwise, your child can pit you against one another and manipulate a situation because they know you don’t agree.
Have a check-and-balance agreement. Don’t let your kids play you against each other. When one comes to you with a request, check with the other to be sure your child is not getting two different answers.
Our daughter used this approach to get her puppy several years back. She was a junior in high school and her friend’s dog was having puppies. She came to me asking if she could have one. I hesitated and said I didn’t think it was a good idea because she would be going off to college in a year or two and who would be taking care of the dog then?
When she didn’t get the answer she wanted, she went to dad and he immediately said yes, not knowing that I’d already said no. A few weeks later, we had a new puppy.
When it comes to bigger decisions or when you are unsure of what your spouse’s response will be, refrain from giving an answer until you check with them. A simple checks-and-balances approach will save you many conflicts.
Schedule regular date nights. Whether it’s weekly or monthly, be sure you consistently put one on the calendar. Your commitment to stay connected with each other will also help you blend your parenting styles. You cannot learn to work through disagreements when you do not take the time to understand and connect with each other.
Parenting success starts with your marriage. As I’ve taken couples through the Parenting Toolbelt Program, it’s become apparent to some of them that the real issue was not necessarily their parenting approach, but their marriage. They were simply not on the same page and were always disagreeing about how to deal with the kids and were not sure how to move past that. When that happens, I’ve suggested marriage coaching or counseling as the next step. If you’d like to know more about marriage coaching, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.