If you and your spouse disagree, from time to time, on how to parent your children, you are not alone. According to Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott it’s one of the top five things couples argue about!
If you find yourself in the occasional or even frequent conversation with your spouse about how to parent your children then take a look at the following three ideas that will help you find a pathway to agreement and less frustration.
1. Get On The Same Page
The solution for just about every parenting issue is to be on the same page, unified and of one mind. For some reason, kids are amazingly skillful at cracking that parental bond of solidarity. It’s like they have studied it or taken a workshop on it. Soon, the behavior you intended to correct in your child ends up in an argument between you and your spouse while the kids watch the show.
There is funny moment in an episode of the Modern Family TV series that sheds some light on the importance of parents being on the same page. Claire and her two daughters, Alex and Haley, are having a heated disagreement about whether or not Haley can go to a party for a couple of hours. Alex lets Mom know that her big sister was not studying the night before but was video chatting with friends the entire night.
Claire tells Haley she cannot go to the party. The volume continues to escalate and Dad walks into the room.
Phil: “Whoa, whoa, whoa, what’s the hot topic on The View today, ladies?
Haley: “Dad, can you just please tell Mom that I can take a two-hour break and go to a party?”
Phil: “No ma’am, I’m not stepping into that one. We’re not playing ‘good cop/mom’.”
What is not shown in this episode is the brutal argument that probably would have followed Phil’s comment. In order to avoid the aftermath of a “good cop/mom” comment, we need to parent from the same perspective and support one another. It’s hard enough being a parent. Why make an enemy of your spouse?
2. Don’t Undermine Your Spouse In Front of Your Kids
“Isn’t that a little over the top?” “Don’t you think you are over reacting?” “I disagree with what you are saying to our kids right now.” “Don’t listen to your mom right now.” “Don’t tell your dad, but . . .”
Don’t let a comment that undermines your spouse’s authority leak out in front of the kids. If something comes up that you haven’t discussed or come to a decision on as parents, call a time-out, move to a private area, discuss the options and return to talk to your kids with a unified decision.
3. Continue An Open Discussion On All Parenting Matters
You don’t have to wait until a crisis to talk about what you want to do or what you are going to do as parents. Having a continuing and open dialogue on what to do as parents or how parenting should be done is important because as our children get older, our styles must shift.
Remember, we move from control to influence, so that our children can move from dependence to independence. While it may be easy to agree on the overall parenting philosophy, it may be tough to agree on the nuances of how we must change.
For example, parents may agree on the idea of transitioning their parenting style to be more influencing and less controlling in the teen years, however, how much control is to be given up in order to help the kids gain independence must still be determined. Keep the conversation going. It’s a more fluid than fixed way of thinking.
Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott say, “The solution for nearly any parenting conflict is found in getting on the same page and presenting a unified front. Otherwise, your kids play you against each other and add fuel to the parenting fire.” I’m sure we call all give a testimony to that!
You can find more about how parents can stay on the same page in the book Faith and the Modern Family.
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