Ten tips for parenting as a team

by

Whitney Barthel

posted in Tips & Tricks

 

My husband and I grew up very differently. Although we only lived fifteen miles from one another our family lives were polar opposites. He was homeschooled, I went to public school. His parents are still married, my parents divorced when I was four. He grew up on a farm, I lived in town. Not only are the demographics of our family completely different, our moms and dads had very dissimilar parenting styles.

This difference in upbringing has caused us to have conflicting views on how to parent the “right” way. Luckily we are in agreement on most issues, but we are having a hard time coming together on things like schooling and discipline.

In attempt to smooth these riffs over and work together as a team, I have started researching methods to help us come to an agreement on pesky little issues that keep coming to a head. In my hunt I found one extremely useful article containing ten moderately feasible strategies.

This little bit of parenting guidance, offered by Debbie Pincus, urges parents to relate and come to a consensus on big issues and to avoid heated discussions in front of your children.

“Children can sense when their parents aren’t in sync in their decisions around discipline. Your child will feel the lack of unity between you, which can create a feeling of instability for him. This will also give kids an opening; they will sometimes use it to provoke a fight. This gets your child off the hook and turns parent against parent.”

 Here are ten easy guidelines that will help you and your partner parent as one coherent unit:

1. Provide back-up. Make one parent in charge of discipline. I guess mom was doing it right when she said, “Just wait till your dad gets home!”.
2. Don’t fight in front of the kids. Children are disturbed by seeing their parents fight with one another. This is hard for me — and probably most women. It is all too easy to get emotional and want to deal with things that moment. Make sure you keep your composure and avoid confrontation in front of the kids.
3. Decide who feels more strongly about the issue. This one is easy – pick your battles. Even if you don’t agree with your partner 100% on the issue, it is important to support the decision made either way.
4. Only discuss parenting issues when you are calm. This one is easier said than done. Staying calm will help keep the lines of communication open. Try to be open minded and understanding as to why your partner feels the way they do. These discussions might be best reserved for a date night, over wine…lots of wine.
5. Don’t throw your partner “under the bus”. It is important to empathize with your little ones, but don’t do it at the expense of your spouse. I know it’s hard to bite your tongue if you aren’t completely in agreement with a recent parenting decision, but comments like “I know daddy is mean. We will get ice cream next time” is a big no no. This, I am ashamed to say, is my biggest flaw. Some part of me feels I can guilt Ryan into being the dad and husband I think he should be. I know, it is totally ridiculous.
6. Be familiar with your partner’s family history. This will help you understand why they feel the way they do on certain parenting issues. Most people are resistant to change, so no matter how good your brownies are — your mother-in-law’s will always be better… just saying. Give your partner and relationship time. This will help you and your significant other come to terms with feelings associated with certain issues. Time may be all you need to come together on tough parenting choices.
7. When parents fight, kids think they are off the hook. Kids can be stinky little buggers. If fighting is a “norm” some children will find ways to encourage their parents to bicker at one another to divert attention from their bad behavior.
8. Step away from the issue. When things get heated sometimes it’s best to take some time away and think about why this issue may be so important to your significant other.
9. Just listen. Spend a few minutes listening to your partner’s wishes as a parent. Try not to say a word. Try to work out a negotiation without getting stirred up or anxious. I know what you are thinking — is my husband capabable of this? Men are fantastic at not saying anything, but notoriously bad listeners. It might be best to make sure you have their attention first by saying phrases like “free beer”, “NFL draft”, or maybe “Megan Fox”.
10. Is it time to consider professional help? Don’t be too proud to look for help if you are feeling stuck.

 

What are some parenting issues you and your significant other disagree on?

 

 

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