How-to Resolve Parenting Disagreements Between You and Your Spouse
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Before kids, you may have imagined that you both would be parenting in harmony. High-fiving each other in how connected you both are in your parenting styles. The envy of all your parents’ friends. But, as it turns out, you disagree in some fundamental ways when it comes to parenting.
What do you do when you and your spouse disagree about parenting? Keep reading for helpful tips on overcoming parenting disagreements with your spouse.
Keep in mind that it’s completely normal to have some disagreements in parenting. In fact, it can be helpful to have someone that questions your parenting style occasionally and helps you process your thoughts through active listening and questions.
However, one of the best things about having a co-parent is discussing concerns, fears, successes, and parenting plans. It’s like having a bestie when it comes to the hard, through rewarding work of parenting.
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So, when you’re finding yourself having more disagreements than agreements, it can feel lonely.
The good news is that you can come to compromises and solutions that work for both of you so that you can both be on board and in the same parenting team.
Understanding why parents sometimes disagree with each other
Unless you both were raised in the same parenting style, experienced the same life experiences, and think exactly alike, you’re occasionally going to disagree in your parenting decisions.
As parents, we bring us learned behaviors from our parents (how we observed them and experienced their parenting), plus the insights and opinions we have as individuals.
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Ideally, you discuss these things before ever having children, but the reality is that we find ourselves in this position after we have children. And we need to find a resolution to be able to parent in harmony.
Before you can parent mindfully, you need to do some exploratory digging on yourself to make sure that your beliefs on parenting come from a conscious and whole place vs. a false belief and learned behavior. (This is much of the work we do in The Parenting Alchemy).
How do I talk to my husband about parenting?
You cannot have healthy communication about your parenting styles when you’re debating or arguing about parenting decisions. It will go nowhere in resolution.
When a disagreement arises, you both need to commit to put the discussion on hold and wait for when you can discuss the issue calmly and with the connection.
Here’s how to have a good talk with your partner about parenting:
- Schedule a discussion time without the children present
- Write down what you need from the discussion without interpreting or speaking for your partner. Focus on your own need.
- Take turns actively listening to each other’s needs.
- Find a middle-ground that meets both of your needs.
- Agree to try this solution for two weeks before meeting again to discuss.
- Back each other up in the solution.
When you talk about parenting with your partner, you remove judgment and pointing fingers at each other, and instead are focused on your individual needs and solutions.
How do you resolve parenting conflicts?
Even with parents that agree with most of their parenting, there will be conflicts. After all, you’re both two unique individuals.
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The best way to resolve parenting conflicts is to come to a compromise and take action in it.
1. Allow the more stringent parent to lead the conversation.
In most situations, one parent is stricter than the other. There’s frustration in the strict parent because they feel they are carrying a more significant parenting load, while the other parent enjoys being more permissive.
Yet the more lenient or permissive parent may feel resentful because they observe too much strictness with the children, and there’s concern about the connection and relationship with your children.
Though this may feel counterproductive, I recommend that the stricter parent lead the conversation and resolution. When the more stringent parent receives support from the permissive parent, they are more likely to feel safer in being open to a compromise.
A parenting relationship is just like all other relationships. There needs to be validation, understanding, and problem-solving. And for this to happen sometimes, one has to be the first one to compromise. This is precisely how the most recommended parenting style functions. In an authoritative parenting style, there are boundaries while being warm and kind.
2. Practice Active Listening and Healthy Communication
If we can’t have discussions in this manner as parents, how can we model it for our children? The great thing about a disagreement though is the opportunity for both of you to practice healthy communication and active listening.
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To resolve parenting conflicts, I recommend practicing the following process.
Write down the conflict.
Express the conflict without speaking for the other parent or interpreting their actions. Simply write down what the conflict is.
Parent A: I want the children to choose their own media time because they work hard in school, and I believe that down-time is essential.
Parent B: Media is addicting, and if we don’t set boundaries around it, I believe that they will neglect other life responsibilities and play games all day.
Provide the evidence for your belief.
Once you have express the conflict, now is time to back-up what you believe should happen in parenting.
Parent A: Here’s a study that showed that school could be stressful for kids.
Parent B: Here’s a study that showed that media is addicting.
Express your parenting need.
Once you present the conflict, your evidence for your belief, next is express the exact need that you both have and find a solution to meet that need.
Parent A: I need the children to have an outlet that’s enjoyable to them.
Parent B: I need the kids to have different life experiences that are not media related.
In this scenario, a solution could be that after school, the family goes for a walk or other activity that expands their experiences. And then there’s a set amount of time that the children can be on media.
Focus on the solution to the need.
Keep in mind that in a relationship, there will be given and take. The point of resolving the conflict is to meet the need that caused the conflict.
Focus on the need. It’s not uncommon to find a hidden need exposed or that the conflict is based on fears. Talking these through and focusing on solutions will make you both stronger as individuals and parents.
When Parents Disagree: How to Parent as a Team
Once you have a solution based on the conflict (without speaking for each other), the evidence for your belief, and together problem-solved a solution that meets both of your needs, then it’s time to parent together as a team.
The keys to working together as a team are:
- Back each other up
- Have a parenting meeting every week to reconnect and stay on track
- Be non-judgmental if you have a parenting fail (remember there’s no such thing as perfect parenting)
- Support each other’s personal need to self-care
- Continue to learn (join The Parenting Alchemy)
In summary, here's how you resolve parenting disagreements.
It's completely normal to occasionally disagree with each other in parenting. A disagreement is an opportunity for personal growth and practicing healthy communication.
Begin by stating the conflict, while avoiding speaking for each other or interpreting each other's actions.
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Once the conflict is clearly expressed, you should be provide evidence to back-up your belief. This also works as an effective way to make sure that the conflict isn't based on false beliefs or negative learned behaviors from our childhood.
And finally, state your need as you both problem-solve a solution that resolves the conflict and meets both of your needs.
For continuing parenting solutions, join The Parenting Alchemy. See you there!