My spouse and I disagree about Parenting

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You and your spouse have two totally different parenting styles. One subscribes to the School of Hard knocks and the other has always dreamed of having a family like “Leave it to Beaver”.  While many couples may not be on the same page when it comes to parenting, how do they minimize the collateral damage done in the midst of such polar beliefs and attitudes towards their child’s wellbeing?  These disagreements about parenting may lead many couples to divorce or living in resentment for the rest of their marital life.

Shouldn’t we expect it?  Two different people, having lived 2 different lives meet and fall in love.  More often than not, it’s their differences that attracted them to one another. However- when those two individuals come together to create a life- they now must set the rules of engagement about this person they’ve created. All too often- the fairy tale comes to an end with one parent deeming the other as too strict.. too lenient.. too checked out… too disengaged…too inconsistent and so forth.  Conflict and disagreement is inevitable but below are a couple of suggestions for common parenting hiccups;

1. Don’t disagree in front of your children.

You may disagree with your spouse to the nth degree about a particular issue concerning your child, but it does no-one any good to openly oppose them in front of your child.  When children realize there’s disharmony between you and your spouse, human nature- kicks in and they will use it to their advantage.    No matter how badly you feel or how angered you are about what has transpired- keep your focus on your spouse’s good intention. Focusing on their intention will keep your temper or emotions from flaring. When you’re away from your child you will get the opportunity to bring it up and discuss your concerns.  You can agree to revisit the conversation with your child at a different time with another perspective.  HOWEVE R DO NOT DISAGREE IN FRONT OF YOUR CHILD, because disagreements about parenting may lead to conflict.

2. Don’t undermine the Other parent.

When one parent has disallowed something, and the other undermines them by allowing it, they are simply creating a monster.  The character that is being built within the child is the ability to manipulate. Soon enough, they will generalize this to outside relationships like school, social settings and the like. The reason why parents present a united front is to teach children the value of authority and respect. When one parent undermines the other, this is thrown out the winding and children don’t’ value or respect authority. Instead, they learn that if they persist long enough, find better ways to lie, manipulate and disregard authority, they will win.  For the mother who says “Okay .. but don’ your dad, or the father who says Yes.. but don’t tell your mom” this may not be your intention- but this is what your child is learning. “ Authority doesn’t matter”


3. Meet the Needs of Both spouse and child.

If you have a spouse who is extremely loud and scary when confronting your child your job is to be a kind of cheerleader for your spouse and security guard for your child. As long as your spouse is not abusing your child and it’s a matter of their temperament- You must be strategic in how you enter the conflict zone.

The need of the loud scary parent is often to feel heard and affirmed – though their method is questionable.  The need of your child is to be protected, but yet see the vulnerability of the angered parent along with their intent. As the sideline parent you might say something like this.  “Honey it sounds like you are upset- (as you step in between them and the child) and  what I hear you saying is that you don’t want Lindsay coming home late at night because it makes you feel afraid”.

What you’ve done here is make the loud scary parent- seem vulnerable so the true intent is explained to the child. And at the same time, rephrased or reframed what your spouse has been saying in a more assertive way so   they feel heard. This will reduce their arousal and allow them to calm down.
It can definitely be a tough position to be in – but as the calmer parent your goal is to see both sides of the coin and  MEET THE NEEDS OF BOTH OF YOUR SPOUSE AND YOUR CHILD


Positive Kids offer groups and classes for parents struggling with Disagreements about Parenting. For more information, contact us at 866-503-7454.


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