Parents don’t always agree, even parents living in the same household. Along with money and sex, parenting is one of the top ten reasons spouses argue.
It makes sense. We weren’t raised in the same household. Each one of us brings our childhood experiences into the parenting arena. We have our own opinions, values and ideals what parenting should look like—and because we’re passionate about our children, we’re less likely to yield to differing viewpoints.
Parenting creates enough tension without the added weight of a parental disagreement. And when spouses have styles that are fully at odds with one another the frustration can be damaging to the marriage (and children) over time.
So what can you do to make your parenting efforts coincide?
DETERMINE YOUR PARENTING STYLE
While some parenting disagreements are quite simple (you don’t agree on a few rules or consequences here and there) differing parenting styles can be a huge source of anxiety. An example is when one spouse is very strict and the other permissive. Not only are both of these parenting styles lacking, together they create a setting that is inconsistent, insecure and in the end ineffective.
Look up parenting styles and you’ll see the same three or four words (authoritative, authoritarian, permissive and neglectful) although some professionals have given these or similar styles their own name. These parenting styles have been studied extensively, including their traits and effectiveness.
If you want more insight into how, and why, your spouse parents the way he/she does, consider reviewing these parenting styles. Try to see where you fit in. Ask your spouse to self-evaluate what style he/she falls into. See if you agree with each other’s self-assessment.
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CHOOSE THE MOST EFFECTIVE PARENTING STYLE
Recognize the value of positive parenting techniques and see what you’re willing to implement as a team.
Although not all studies agree (particularly cultural studies), in the United States, one parenting style receives the most accolades. A Google search may alter the name and some of its traits, but authoritative parenting is considered the preferred parenting method.
Authoritative parents are loving and supportive, but they do set expectations for their children.
Unfortunately, just knowing the traits of authoritative parenting isn’t necessarily going to make you an authoritative parent. As noted above, we learned a lot about parenting as children, and those methods, good or bad, are often quite ingrained in our behavior.
While you and your spouse are working on implementing these new methods, start with positive parenting techniques that feel most comfortable to you. Be patient and expect mistakes, but don’t give up.
CREATE BASIC FAMILY RULES & A DISCIPLINE PLAN:
Establish household rules you agree on and predetermine the consequences you’ll implement for breaking the rules.
Sit down with your spouse and make of all the household rules you’d like to implement. When you’re done try to narrow the list to the top 5 or ten that mean the most to both of you. You can create this list by choosing the rules you both agree on or through compromise. Do not make your list longer than 10 rules . Feel free to include one or two non-negotiables (rules you will not bend on such as safety issues or family values). When you are done, discuss the rules as a family and put the list in writing. If you have young children (use pictures). Next talk about what will happen if any of the rules are broken. Encourage your children to provide suggestions. (You don’t have to accept their suggestions, but it’s a great learning lesson and may help you and your spouse come up with ideas.) This step will do wonders for your family. Not only will you be prepared when a rule is broken, your children will know what to expect and your spouse will follow suit, even when you’re not there. You eliminate the stress of arguing with each other or the child, and you can move into immediate action.
ALSO RECOMMENDED: Establish an appropriate list of chores and post those too
Regardless of whether your plan to pay for chores or not, consider implementing chores into your child’s daily regimen. If the word chore bothers you or your spouse, call it a responsibility. Children can, and should, learn the significance of picking up after themselves, or helping others complete necessary tasks. Keep in mind, chores should be limited by age and capabilities. They can also be fun. Toddlers can pick up toys to music or race you. Elementary students can care for pets. Establishing a set of chores creates a sense of unity and pride within a family. When tasks are shared, there’s more time to spend together.
AGREE TO AGREE, COMPROMISE AND COMMUNICATE AHEAD OF TIME
You’re already on your way to determining how and why you each parent the way you do, as well as finding ways to parent in a more effective manner. You’ve created a set of household rules and consequences to help you work together on the basics of day to day management. But there’s a whole lot in between. While you can’t predict every future disagreement, you are probably a lot closer to determining the areas of parenting you still collide on. Make a note on any of the areas you know you’re still struggling with. Can you implement any of the positive parenting techniques to solve your differences? If you don’t agree can you compromise? Last, but not least, discuss methods on how you can communicate privately while in front of the children. For example, you may agree on a phrase that signals you’d like a moment to speak with your spouse in private. If one parent gets hot-headed in front of the children, is he/she willing to take a 5 minute break if the spouse sends a private signal such as a pat on the back?
While I included this in another article, it’s worth repeating here. An amazing place for any parents to start is with core values. We all have certain values that we believe in, abide by, and will instill in our children. Common core values may include: perseverance, positive attitude, honesty, integrity, knowledge and many more. View a list of core values with your spouse. See where you align, where you can compromise and even where you differ. Some amazing lessons can be learned from one another when you discuss the significance of specific core values.
SEEK OUTSIDE SUPPORT
Have specific questions related to this topic including assistance finding local resources? I’ve supported numerous couples over the years. Contact Susan directly (for free! Yes, free, and no obligations at all). I’ll do my best to provide the support you need.