When you and your partner work as a team to parent your child, you will both feel more supported. After all, you both have the common goal of raising your child to be healthy, happy and successful.
Working as a team doesn’t mean you will never disagree! At some point, all parents will differ or argue at about raising their child. After all, you are individual people with different ideas, skills, values, histories and personalities. You are also coping with the stress of parenting.
It’s not, however, whether you disagree, but how you handle the disagreements. Even if you and the person you parent with have different parenting styles, you can still parent together effectively.
1. Communicate, Communicate, and Then Communicate More
Effective communication is a key to parenting together.
- Make sure you both understand each other’s basic ideas or values about parenting. Talk about it or take a parenting class together.
- Know and respect each other’s specific family and cultural history. What do you want to keep? What would you like to do differently?
- Put aside time to come to general agreements about “daily” issues or rules – bedtime, meals, screen time, as well as major issues or persistent challenges.
- Talk about parenting issues, especially major ones, when you are both calm. Don’t try to address a major issue when you are in the heat of an argument or when you’re struggling with your child over a specific behavior. Set the issue aside until you can talk calmly.
- If you feel uncomfortable with how your partner has dealt with a particular situation, don’t blame them or give them harsh criticism, especially in front of your child. Be constructive, provide feedback and tell them how you feel.
- We all make mistakes. Be kind to your partner and to yourself when you inevitably make some mistakes with each other.
2. Be Flexible
What is really important to you and your idea of parenting? For example:
Is learning to always say please and thank you important to your values?
Is restricting TV time something you feel is an absolute?
Is making a mess part of being creative?
Which things would you prefer to happen, but are willing to negotiate about? Can you be accommodating about your child’s bedtime if certain bedtime rituals are important to your partner?
Appreciate each other’s viewpoints and needs. Be flexible and see where you both can compromise.
3. Let the Moment Pass, then Check-in
Even with lots of communication and agreements, there are bound to be times when your partner manages a situation in a way you don’t agree with. Of course, if you believe your partner is being emotionally or physically abusive to your child, that IS the time to interfere in the moment.
However, if that is not the case, don’t over-react in the moment. They may have a very good reason for the way they responded. Check in with your partner about their actions. It’s important, especially for younger children, to see that their parents are united and working as a team. Stability and consistency make children feel safe and confident.
When You Can’t Make the Team Work
Sometimes you and your partner are having general problems in your relationship that are interfering with your ability to parent together. It can be easy to ignore your relationship when parenting together, but addressing relationship problems is essential and will help you be able to work better as a team.
It can be hard to come to parenting agreements if you and your partner have rigid parenting roles – such as one person who is always the “fun” parent and the other the “strict” parent. Try for flexibility.
Sometimes you and your partner might come to an impasse and are not be able to work out agreements. You may need outside help.
- Consider seeing a counselor.
- Join a parenting group where you can talk with other parents and have some guidance from professional Parenting Educators on issues of discipline and more, as well as positive ways to communicate with your parenting partner.
You may not always be in perfect harmony with your partner, but you can sing sweetly together!
Communicate what your values and ideas are about parenting. Support each other by agreeing about general rules, guidelines and discipline. Compromise and be flexible about places you don’t agree. When your partner is disciplining your child, back them up in the moment and talk about the issue later when you are alone and calm. Your child will benefit if she or he sees you as a team working together and you will create a more harmonious home.
Share this post of your Facebook page and see how other parents are managing to try to be in harmony with each other when disciplining their children!