The Importance of Parents & Consistency
When Partners Have Different Ideas of Parenting
What happens when you and your partner do not agree on how to parent your children? This is a tough one, but also a very important one. My husband and I come from two very different upbringings. His with two parents and six other siblings. Mine with divorced parents, many step-parents, and siblings but raised apart and only together at certain times of the year. Coming together as parents can be very difficult but very crucial to your children's development. My husband and I are still working on this and it's honestly been the main topic of disagreements for us. We rarely argue, but if there is a disagreement this is usually the reason. We don't realize it at times but we were continuously battling each other and hurting one another's feelings almost daily because of this.
Whatever your differences and beliefs are, for the sake of your children and the health of your own relationship with your partner, please talk them through and find a way to compromise. Find a way for both of you to get on the same page of how you want to parent your children. Consistency is so very important for parents and once you have figured it out, it provides a solid foundation for your children. When you work together, you will find everything comes together much easier and it will also help your children build trust with their parents as they watch them come together as a team. It also shows your children that you respect them and that you care about providing consistency and stability.
When you do not parent together it can create a real problem, ultimately causing problems with your relationship with each other but also the individual relationship between each of you and your children. I noticed that my son acted completely different with me when it was just him and I versus when it was the three of us together. My husband also commented on the differences of when he and our son were together without me. It was clearly due to the way I treated our son compared to how my husband treated him. It didn't mean that I was doing anything wrong compared to what my husband was doing. To be completely honest, my son was a complete brat with me versus when he was just with his father. I have found in many relationships, mothers tend to be a bit more sensitive or more patient whereas the fathers may have a more stern voice or a certain look that gets a completely different reaction. This doesn't mean my way versus his way was the incorrect way, however, when you each treat the child differently it does cause confusion as well as doubt and frustration, which then leads to manipulation and defiance. When you use different rules and techniques with your children it will almost always result in a negative way. It's like that job that you have one supervisor that you love because they are easy to go to and always have the right answers and then the other supervisor you dread going to because they are short with you and never answer the question directly. You don't want your children to favor one parent over the other because that will cause even more problems.
Co-parenting the same way is hard at first, but once you actually sit down and talk about it, it will actually make your life a lot easier. It will also alleviate a lot of misunderstandings and disagreements. Not only are you helping your relationship, you will build a much stronger relationship between the two of you as well as between yourself and children.
When you decide to talk about it, each of you should create a list. In the list, it should have things that currently bother you that the other parent does. Here are a few examples: Should our son be able to have dessert after 6 PM? Is it going to be a rule to brush his teeth in the morning and also before bed? Are there certain things that your partner says or does that you feel should be said or done differently? How much screen time do we each agree on?
Start to journal, if you notice your husband or wife does something while you and your family are out in public, instead of creating an argument or hurting his or her feelings by addressing it right there on the spot, take note of it and address it at a later time. Once you have a decent list, sit down and discuss how you would like to see these things handled. It is also a great idea to write down two to three different solutions or ways to handle these situations differently. This will help with compromising and agreeing. When you decide to talk about parenting together, be sure it is a time among just the two of you with no distractions.
Set goals: Once you agree on decisions start to slowly execute them. Work on one to two of them a week. Once you get them down, work on the next one to two and so on. The smallest details can count, so don't be afraid to talk about the little things as well.
As you and your partner get on the same wavelength, you will notice changes rather quickly between the two of you as well as your children. By coming together and parenting the same way it gives your children a sense of security but will also provide more self-discipline as they will quickly learn they cannot go to the other parent to get a different result. Upon coming together as parents, you will also gain respect from your children which is a reward in itself.
You were a team in making your children, so make it a point to parent as a team.