Disagreements and parenting – two things that seem to hit just about every parent. The question is does it have to cripple your relationship? Does believing in time-out vs. sticker chore chart really need to be something that after years of not being resolved causes divorce?
Nope. It doesn’t.
Let’s talk about why these disagreements happen in the first place. As parents from totally separate families the first thing that happens is we get raised by our parents values, their discipline styles, and their temperaments which then in turn shape us. If it worked for us….we tend to duplicate it. If it didn’t we tend to avoid it.
Another thing that impacts our parenting styles is our own temperament. Can you listen to your toddler scream for 10 minutes before you blow vs your partner who blows in 0.2 seconds? It might not be that your partner disagrees with the discipline style but more of WHEN the line has been crossed because your partner has a different tolerance than you.
The last thing that we find with most of our couples is that there has been a lack of communication around parenting styles PRIOR to having kids. Many couples discuss when they want to start a family and maybe even how many kids they want to have, but how many of you talked about the KIND of parents you want to be or the VALUES you have in parenting before your kid is laying down on the kitchen floor red faced screaming because you gave her the blue bowl and not the red one?
So, what can you do the next time you and your parenthood partner in crime put on the gloves to battle it out over how much screen time is okay?
- Talk it out. Ideally BEFORE the situation arrises you two have a plan. You both should be on the same page with some behaviors you agree are OK and NOT OK, and you both should know where the line is and what the action will be when the line is crossed. The key to this is to listen to each other. If one of you says, “I want to spank” and the other says “absolutely NOT!” the missing question is – WHY? Listen to understand why certain ways of parenting are important to your partner.
- If you find yourselves in the heat of the moment in front of your kids ready to snap on each other over parenting issues here are some things to do:
- Whatever you do, DON’T discuss the issue in front of your kids. Pause the conversation, and find time alone with zero distractions to discuss. Our biggest trick: have a piece of paper (we call it The Issues) where we write down things in the moment that happen but is not the perfect time to discuss. We then meet weekly to talk about whats on that paper.
- Resolve your differences. Remember you are on the SAME TEAM! You both want the best for your children and invested in the type of people they become. It’s easy in the heat of the moment to see your partner as the enemy but they are not. If your parenting styles are in complete disagreement, you’ll need to compromise our biggest trick to this: brainstorm 5 ways to fix the behavior then agree on ONE to try. (The rest are not off the table, they are just there if the first one doesn’t work.)
- Be UNITED. The security that being on the same team provides to your kids is more important than which discipline strategy you use. If your kids ask you to do something – when possible- don’t give an answer until you have talked with each other first. This will send the message that you two are united and working together.
- Revisit your plan weekly! Behaviors come and go. We have sat down one week discussing how to get our daughter to stop throwing her bowl of food on the ground and then the next week it’s hitting. When you sit down, discuss if what you wanted to try is working. If not, this is your chance to say- okay scratch that…on to the next idea!
- Ask for help. Parenting is NOT something anyone should be expected to do on their own. It truly does take a village. If you have done the things above and feel like you and your partner have hit a brick wall- well thats where WE come in! An outside pair or eyes, some extra brains thinking, and just knowing you are not alone can be a lifesaver for a relationship. Side note, you don’t have to be drowning before you get help either – you can simply get help because you want it.
Cheers to Parenthood!
Chris + Sarah Helms
You can intentionally build the relationship you desire.