Parents are always focused on what is good for their kids. However, what most parents don’t realize is what children need above all things are for their parents to get along, support each other and work as a team.
Hello Child, Hello Changes
Many couples underestimate how having children will alter their marriage and don’t see the need to talk about each other’s parenting styles. They spend very little time talking about a parenting model that both of them will be happy with.
However, it is crucial for parents not only to talk about it, but to implement it and put it in action. If husband and wife do not come into an agreement on what sort of parenting methods they would want to raise their kids, more disputes may occur especially when their children grow into their pre-teens and adolescent years.
It can be very detrimental to the family or marriage if a couple cannot agree on how they want to parent their children. We tend to parent the way we were parented and because no one family is the same, there are bound to be differences. Heated debates may ensue about “what is right” for the kids.
Marriage At Stake
When parents cannot agree and they spend their time fighting and being mad at each, this takes away time and energy they could be putting into their children. All this fighting between parents is role modeling for their children how to solve differences. Distracted disagreeing parents may mean more child misbehaviours.
When parents are not getting along they risk putting their child in the position to pick sides, which is very unhealthy. Sometimes, children will play off the fact that their parents do not get along. Older children will be able to understand this even if they are not mature enough to explain it.
One possible outcome is if a child receives a ‘No’ as an answer from one parent, they will go to the other parent who will either:
- Not check with the partner and say ‘Yes’ or
- Because the parent is still angry at the other parent (for whatever reasons), they will overturn the other parent’s decision to make a point or get back at them. This is very unhealthy in families and creates a lot of ambiguity for the child, thus resulting in more behavioral problems.
Merging Two Styles Into One
If you and your spouse cannot seem to come to an agreement on each other’s parenting styles, you may want to put things into perspective.
Both parents want the best for the child and there is no ONE right way. Both parties will need to compromise a little; to modify their own parenting method to create a new version where both are agreeable upon.
The key is to merge the two styles, blending both values and parenting ideals into one version where both parties are happy and satisfied. It’s important to remember there are many different ways to parent and both have good ideas.
How To Create A Harmonios Joint Parent Partnership
- Keep the relationship and the quality of the marriage at the center of all discussion. You cannot take the relationship for granted and start fighting for only what you want. Marriage changes our freedom and that means that you will not get your way all the time, even on parenting.
- Compromise is not the same as giving-in. People often confuse the two as the same. If one person is giving-in, it is already a win-loss affair. Continue to communicate and try to think of ideas on how you can incorporate both parenting ideals. If one party keeps giving in, this may bring about several repercussions:
a) they may feel resentful towards their partner and the marriage
b) they will not follow through or will not do a good job because it is not what they want/believe.
- Do not use the justification ‘It is in the best interest of the child’ flippantly. This is a very harmful remark, and to use the child as a ‘weapon’ against your spouse. What children really need are two parents who are willing to be flexible and creative in order to work together.
These are advanced marriage skills that most couples will learn together as they grow in their parenting journey. There is no hard and fast rule. It is important to remember that if you want your spouse’s support and help, you must first be willing to yield and incorporate your other half’s parenting style.
The Root Of It All
Parents need to be aware that forcing their partner to subscribe to their way of parenting “for the sake of the child” is putting one’s wants ahead of the needs of the marriage. This is often the root of all marriage counselling cases I see. There is a 66% decrease in marital satisfaction after the birth of a child because people become stubborn and force their own wants and desires, instead of building on what both parties want.
Seek Help And You Will Receive
If you are really struggling with your spouse on this, do seek guidance and advice from a health professional to equip yourself with the tools to creating a unified parenting model.
Most importantly, parents should aim to cooperate, support each other and stay united. Getting help early also can prevent possible disputes in your marriage.
Extra Tip from The Expert: Most of us are not born or equipped with effective parenting skills and need to educate ourselves. You can start by reading books on different parenting styles and decide what works for you and your spouse.
This article was first published in The New Age Parents e-magazine.
By Tammy M. Fontana from All in the Counselling
Tammy Fontana, MS, NCC CTRT Sex Therapist (USA) is the founder and mental health therapist for both All in the Family Counselling and Babysleepfairy.com. She has been providing professional counselling and sleep services in Singapore for over 8 years. She has her Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counselling (USA) and is a USA National Counsellor Counsellor (NCC) and Certified Choice Therapy Reality Therapist (CTRT). She is also a US trained certified Sex Therapist. She provides evidenced and practiced based solutions to parents, individuals and couples.
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