How To Cope When You And Your Partner Disagree About Parenting
Let’s say you’re a stay-at-home mom or dad. You’ve spent all day disciplining, nagging, and attempting to enforce some kind of order within your household. You’re tired and you’re cranky. You’re done.
Then the other parent comes home and the dynamics are completely thrown off the tracks. Perhaps the other parent changes up the rules or doesn’t enforce cleaning-up time like you do.
This may be unintentional on your partner’s behalf, but it’s still annoying.
Everything you’ve spent all day trying to set up immediately comes crashing down around you. The resentment towards your partner starts to build and you’ve now got yourself a prelude to an argument.
This happens every day in households everywhere.
So how do you deal with this? How do you be a successful parent and partner at the same time when you’re both in a completely different head-space?
Get To The Root of it
First of all, you need to figure out where it is the two of you are coming from both mentally and emotionally.
Many people who become parents are solidly decided as to what kind of parent they’re going to be and this is usually based on a reaction to their own childhood. Parents who had more of a rigid, strict upbringing are often adamant that they won’t be that way with their own children.
Other parents who grew up in a more liberal environment may want to create an orderly, firm structure within their own house.
You and your partner need to sit down and hash out the issues that are affecting your parenting together. This means you may have to deal with excess baggage from your childhood. This is one of the many reasons why parenting is so difficult. It does often require you to question your beliefs and think about the childhood experiences that shaped you.
You need to figure out if the way you’re reacting to any given parenting situation is based on your emotions from the past or based on what’s actually best for your child as well as your relationship with your partner.
Decide Which Differences Really Matter
Let’s face it, there are so many dynamics that come into play when you have two different people from two potentially very different backgrounds trying to raise a child together. Maybe one parent likes to play sports and the other doesn’t. Maybe one parent is playful and the other is more serious.
All of these factors will pop up when you have kids together.
Issues you could never have anticipated being a problem before kids are now suddenly major triggers for disagreements.
Another factor to consider is that — generally speaking — men and women do tend to parent a bit differently. While a woman may be more concerned about how much food her child has consumed during the day, a man may care more about tickling and playing with his child to get that first giggle out.
A woman may approach a problem like teething by carefully researching solutions online or making special orders of Baltic Amber teething necklaces, while a man may just give a teething child some ice and be done with it.
None of these differences are deal-breakers. In fact, these differences can actually compliment each other if we accept that not everyone does the things the same way we do — including how we approach parenting.
You have to pick your battles.
Now, if your partner believes in corporal punishment and you don’t — then that’s probably a useful issue to try and tackle.
Give Respect Before You Lose it Entirely
If you see your partner doing something you don’t agree with — don’t automatically fly off the handle — especially in front of your children.
Fighting about conflicting discipline methods in front of the kids is a sure-fire way to gain absolutely no respect from your partner or from your children. It’s okay if it happens once or even twice, but if it happens consistently, you and your partner will end up appearing out of control and the kids will start playing you against one another as they get older.
Children are intuitive and they thrive on the emotions of their parents. They sense tension and anger. If you and your partner can’t get on the same page as far as parenting methods, then at least respect one another in front of the kids until you can get that sorted out.
Part of parenting is learning how to finish growing up yourself so that you can be there for your children. Respect each other as people, partners, and parents. Slow down, think, and have a little more patience.
More from Michelle: The Art of Letting Your Children Make Mistakes
Visit Michelle at The Pondering Nook for blogs on life, love, marriage, divorce, parenting, step-parenting, body image & more! Also Catch Michelle co-hosting at The Broad’s Way Podcast on similar topics.