My husband and I are presently working through a few parenting obstacles. We have different opinions on how discipline and consequences should be handled, those clashing opinions are becoming hard to work around. Especially now that the kids are a bit older (they are 5 and 7). What do you do when you and your spouse disagree on big picture parenting issues? I am not an expert on parenting — I’m learning just like you are. So, take my advice with a grain of salt. These are just my thoughts, one mother to another.
Let’s talk first about what kinds of obstacles you and your spouse may disagree about:
The obstacle of parenting style
I am learning how to engage in gentle parenting of my kids. I learned about gentle parenting from social media and decided that it was something I’d like to try. Gentle parenting is a philosophy of parenting that centers connection, intimacy, and empathy. It puts the onus on the parent to regulate their emotions because children do not yet have the ability to do so. It means no yelling, and no spanking either. I have embraced this parenting style. I work every day toward being better at gentle parenting because I truly believe in its long-term effectiveness. My husband, on the other hand, isn’t sold. He agrees that spanking is wrong and we strictly do not do it. But, he isn’t so sure that yelling isn’t an effective tool. He’s firmly in the, “sometimes you have to yell to make them listen” camp. We argue over this often.
The obstacle of short-term versus long-term
My husband is very focused on the here and now when it comes to our kids. I am more focused on the long-term. This is a parenting obstacle that we trip over all the time. We disagree over things like disciplining in the moment, versus establishing a connection with them first and talking through the problem together. In the short term, as in, what makes us feel satisfied as parents in the moment, immediate discipline can feel good. That’s where I believe my husband is coming from. Because I embrace gentle parenting, I see things a bit differently. Comforting our kids when they are behaving badly — establishing a connection and showing empathy — doesn’t feel as satisfying in the moment (especially when I am triggered and just want to yell myself). But I sincerely believe that in the long run, demonstrating empathy and emotional intelligence is more impactful.
The obstacle of different values
This doesn’t happen to us often, but sometimes my husband and I are mismatched in our values. I think it’s funny when my kids swear (as long as they’re not swearing at someone, and only at home), but I see my husband bristle. I believe in using anatomically correct language for our kids’ body parts, and he is having a hard time coming around on that. My values center self-expression and authenticity; his tend to center propriety and politeness.
What to do when you and your spouse disagree on these parenting obstacles
Honestly, it’s just gonna be hard. It’s natural for you and your spouse to have different opinions. However, when these obstacles arise, it’s important to overcome them to provide a cohesive and consistent parenting approach. Here are a few things that my husband and I are working on – hear me: working on – toward handling the parenting obstacles we face when we disagree:
The key to resolving any disagreement is effective communication. We have to be be willing to listen to each other and try to understand. It’s important that we speak out minds, and listen intently, understanding that we both have the kids’ best interest at heart.
Assume positive intent
Related to point number one, it’s important that we always assume that each of us have good intentions, even when we disagree. We both love our children and want the best for them. We just happen to have different opinions on how best to parent them.
Identify the root cause of the disagreement
We have to try to identify the underlying cause of their disagreement. Is it the obstacle of parenting styles, values, or beliefs? Understanding the root cause can help us address the obstacle more effectively.
Seek advice from a third party
There are so many resources out there for parents who need help coming together as a parenting team. You could find a counselor, or a parenting coach to help you out. If you’re looking for information about gentle parenting, for example, you can follow amazing women The Considerate Mama and High Impact Club to help! A third party can help parents to communicate more effectively, understand each other’s perspective, and find common ground.
Sometimes, finding a middle ground is the best solution. We can try to compromise by finding a solution that takes both perspectives into account. This may involve making small adjustments to both of our parenting approaches, or finding alternative ways to address the issue.
Prioritize the well-being of the child
At the end of the day, the most important thing is the well-being of the child. We have to put our differences aside and focus on what is best for our kids.
In conclusion, obstacles to parenting, and disagreements between parents are a natural part of parenting. They they can be overcome by avoiding barriers to communication, seeking understanding, and being willing to compromise. By prioritizing the well-being of our children, and seeking help when needed, parents can work together to provide a loving and consistent parenting approach