What To Do When You Disagree About Parenting

4 Ways to Handle Parenting Disagreements - #staymarried - Photo credit: Stacy Jacobsen at http://www.stacyjacobsen.comAt last count, the internet has provided us with roughly eight million different parenting styles. You’ve probably noticed different parenting styles even among your own friends. Is it any wonder, with so many opinions and philosophies, that two people who share a home and children might also disagree on the best parenting approach?

Marriage is tricky enough without kids. As soon as you add little people to your family, the trickiness is off the charts. Now, not only are you figuring out how best to communicate with your partner and enjoy life, you also have to work together to raise these tiny utterly dependant humans! A lot of couples, including Tony and I, are unaware of the kinds of parents they will be until after the children have arrived. I always thought I’d be the strict enforcer and Tony would be the fun one. It turns out I’m the snuggler, Tony is the fun one, and we BOTH have to be the enforcers when it comes to discipline and handling behavior. Only, we don’t always agree on how to handle the kids.

What I want to share with you is less about the best way to parent and more about how your parenting affects your marriage. Let’s talk about the two of you! Because, above all, the way you treat each other and communicate about parenting can either have a positive or a negative effect on your relationship with each other. It’s your relationship with each other, not the way you parent, that will have the most profound effect on your children’s lives. These are the things Tony and I keep in mind when we disagree about parenting.

4 Ways to Handle Parenting Disagreements

1. Let your partner parent.

One of the hardest things to do when you disagree about parenting is to step back and let your partner BE a parent. But, unless something terribly unsafe or abusive is happening, that is exactly what we need to do. Think back to your own childhood. Did your mom and dad handle every situation in the exact same way? Probably not. And, look at you now, handling life EVEN THOUGH your parents parented differently.

4 Ways to Handle Parenting Disagreements - #staymarried - Photo credit: Stacy Jacobsen at http://www.stacyjacobsen.comWhen our oldest was just a toddling two and a half year old, Tony brought home some small firecrackers from a little pop-up stand around the corner from our house. Fourth of July was coming up and, since he’s the fun parent, I wasn’t the least bit surprised when he showed me his loot. Of course I piped up just a little, “Honey, I don’t think this is a good idea. Claire is two. This really doesn’t seem safe.”

How did he respond? “Babe! It’s fine. I’ve got this.”

So, I was inside the house tending to our infant while Tony went out to the driveway to light off these little firecrackers. I could see a little bit from the front window, but I was really trying not to hover. I snuggled the baby and reminded myself, He’s a good dad. He’s a good dad. He’s a good dad. They’re fine.

The next thing I knew, the front door flung open and in came Tony carrying a screaming little Claire. My heart sank! She’d gotten too close and got a tiny burn on her hand. He rushed her to the bathroom. I grabbed an ice pack and followed him in where he was washing her hand and applying some cooling gel. He was handling it. She was fine. I nearly passed out from the stress, but I kept the I-told-ya-so’s to myself.

Letting your partner parent is not easy but it is vital. Practicing stepping back is about seeing parenting as a long game and not about just this one particular instance in which you would be doing things in a different way… the right way. The truth is that we need to see our differences in parenting simply as differences and not as wrong ways and right ways.

In the long game, the two of you need to be a team in all aspects of your marriage, and that includes parenting. Undermining your partner by stepping in and interrupting a parenting moment is not only disrespectful, it also communicates distrust. Nobody performs at their best when they feel that they aren’t trusted and will be undermined for their efforts anyway. So, if something is happening in a way that you don’t necessarily agree with, take a step back. Pause. Remind yourself that it’s better for the kids and for your relationship to let the situation play itself out. And if your husband burns your baby’s hand, that too will be a situation that you can handle together, hopefully without passing out.

[ctt_author author=”5873″ name=”Michelle Peterson” template=”1″ link=”_ba68″ via=”yes” ]We need to see differences in parenting simply as differences, not as wrong ways and right ways.[/ctt_author]

2. Practice the “Same Team Mentality” in front of the kids.

Smart parents know that kids will do what it takes to get their way. Pitting one parent against the other is a classic move. Kids don’t even need to be taught! They come out of the womb knowing that mom responds differently to a sweet snuggle and a smile before they ask for what they want than dad will. They know which is more likely to sneak some chocolate into their lunch (DAD!) and which is more likely to read one more little book even though it’s 20 minutes past bedtime (MOMMY!). Nobody told them. They just know.

Look, I may not like the extra sugar in her lunch and Tony may not like that bedtime should have been over by now, but in front of the kids we are on the same team. If dad says no, mom says no. So, in order to have the upper hand with these tiny master manipulators we’ve developed a new response…

“Have you already asked Daddy about that? What did Daddy say?” (and vice versa)

With the same team method, whichever parent gave the first response to the request is the parent that leads that situation. Sometimes the kids forget that their main objective is to divide and conquer, so they’ll ask one parent in front of the other. When that happens, we openly discuss in front of the kids what we each think about it and come to an agreement together.

“I really don’t like Claire to have chocolate at school.” – Mom, obviously

“I like the idea that she’s got a little treat with her lunch.” – Dad, the fun guy

“Sure, I get that. Let’s just not make it a daily lunch habit.”

“Great. Maybe once a week or so, she’ll get an extra little treat. Claire, what do you think?”

Not only does this method save a ton of arguments between the two of you, it’s a fantastic chance to model what teamwork looks like for your kids. They can see that we disagree and that we’re willing to talk it out and work toward a solution together.

3. Talk about differences away from the kids.

4 Ways to Handle Parenting Disagreements - #staymarried - Photo credit: Stacy Jacobsen at http://www.stacyjacobsen.comIf you’re letting your partner be a parent, and practicing the same team mentality in front of the kids, you may still find yourself frustrated over something your partner has done. The best thing to do is to wait until the kids aren’t around to bring it up. Then, when you bring it up, don’t forget all of the problem solving skills you already know:

Start kindly and respectfully.
♥ Name what specifically happened.
♥ Name how you feel about it.
♥ Present what you think would have been a better method.
♥ Remain open to their perspective.
♥ Remind yourselves that you’re on the same team.

It could look something like this…

“I love that you want to do fun things and make fun memories with our kids. But, when you took Claire out there to light fireworks, I felt scared and frustrated. I was afraid something bad would happen, and I was frustrated that it seemed like you ignored me when I mentioned it. I wish you would have listened to me, or that we could have waited until I didn’t have my hands full with the baby so I could be out there to keep Claire away from the flames while you lit things on fire.”

4. Get a third-party perspective.

So far, we’re just talking about parenting instances. But, if you feel like you are having disagreements about parenting overall and not just in one situation or another, it’s time to bring in some perspective. All of those eight million different parenting styles come with eight million different websites, books, and seminars. One of the best ways to stay on the same team is to grab one of these resources, read it (or watch it or listen to it) together, and then discuss how you each feel about it.

Having an article to consider together is a great buffer because it takes the discussion out of the “me vs. you” state and puts you in an “us + new information” state. Instead of feeling attacked and criticized for the way you do things, now you can explore someone else’s thoughts and methods on parenting and make some decisions together. It’s not about your way vs. my way. Instead it’s about discovering our way.

Just remember, if this is the method you choose, you’ll still want to introduce it in a way that is kind and respectful and doesn’t make your spouse feel accused of doing something wrong.

4 Ways to Handle Parenting Disagreements - #staymarried - Photo credit: Stacy Jacobsen at http://www.stacyjacobsen.comWhat I mean is… and I’ve said this on our Facebook page before… do not simply tag your spouse on an article you want them to read or send them a forward without any explanation. When you don’t include a comment to give context as to WHY you are tagging your partner or sending them an article, they could easily feel accused of having done something wrong. So, if you’re going to share something for your partner to read or listen to so that you can discuss it later, be thoughtful in how you share it with them.

Here are some quick options…

“Hey babe, let’s read this and talk about it later…”

“This article made me grateful for the way we do things in our marriage. I thought you might like it.”

“This article has some great ideas. I’d love to know what you think.”

Marriage and parenting really are a ton of work, as are most worthwhile endeavors. At the end of the day, whether you do everything exactly the same or not, the most important thing is to honor and respect each other and work out your solutions as a team. Stepping in, undermining, and rudely disagreeing with your partner in front of your kids can be really damaging to your kids and also to your own relationship. Be patient with each other, practice the same team mentality, present a united front with the kids, and #staymarried.

Special thanks to the Coleman family for letting us use their beautiful family photos to illustrate this post.
Photo credit: Stacy Jacobsen whose work can be found at http://www.stacyjacobsen.com

Now, for those parenting resources I promised you…

Brain Rules for Baby by Dr. John Medina and Zero to Five by Tracy Cutchlow are the two books I recommend most often. They both thoroughly changed the way I parent, giving me insight based on scientific research, and practical steps I could take right away. If I’ve been to your baby shower in the last 4 years, chances are I gave you one or both of these books. I love them!

I can’t even believe I waited until the end of this post to tell you that, for all of our email subscribers, I get to GIVE THESE BOOKS TO YOU! Both books! In audio book format, because who has time to read! Ordinarily that would be a $40 value, but the people at Libro.fm have generously offered #staymarried Subscribers FREE downloads of both!

#staymarried and Libro.fm Parenting Audio Book Giveaway

Enter your name and email address to receive both of these parenting resources, a $40 value, as our gift to you!

You'll also stay up to date with the latest from #staymarried, speaking events, meetups, and more giveaways!

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The #staymarried blog was created to offer hope, stories, and resources for couples who want to stay married.

Tony and Michelle Peterson #staymarriedIf you’re NEW HERE, check out our About Page and read a little more about my own background on our first post.

Thank you for reading, sharing, and being a part of this #staymarried community!

~ Michelle

Porn vs You

If you read “Is Porn a Problem?,” our recent post in collaboration with Craig Gross, then you know by now that Tony and I do believe pornography is a problem and has caused issues in many marriages. It would be naive of us not to acknowledge that there are those of you out there who do not believe it to be a problem, those who may even indulge individually or as a couple. We have no intention of arguing about it. We simply want to bring to light anything that could be harmful and divisive in our pursuits to stay married. As a couple, we have decided to take an offensive stance toward anything that could threaten our marriage instead of a passive position- shrugging our shoulders, later wondering how we got so far away from where we wanted our marriage to be.

We believe transparency – with each other, with our friends, and on this blog – is a crucial element in guarding our marriage. So, now that we’ve pushed past the embarrassment and really talked openly about the problems posed by pornography, we want to leave you with some resources and possible next steps. We’ll start by sharing some of the startling information we’ve learned about this industry.

Porn vs You Infographic- Stats on Pornography plus a giveaway on the #staymarried blog

Is porn a problem for you?

Take this FREE online assessment – The Sexual Addiction Screening Test – which was developed in cooperation with hospitals, treatment programs, private therapists, and community groups. The SAST provides a profile of responses which help to discriminate between addictive and non-addictive behavior.

Take the SAST NOW

Guard Your Technology

Are you cool with people looking over your shoulder while you’re surfing the internet? Would you be embarrassed if your mom saw some of the things you were looking at?  x3watch is a free accountability software program helping with online integrity. Whenever you access a website that contains inappropriate or pornographic material, the program will record the website, time, and date the site was visited. A person of your choice will receive an email containing a list of all the questionable sites you have visited that week. Tony and I have this installed on our computer and it’s been a simple way for us to bring up conversation about what we’re looking at online. It’s been especially helpful during this season that we’ve been researching infidelity and pornography. The number of times I’ve clicked on something thinking it would be a research article is a little embarrassing…

Learn more and download x3watch HERE

Know You Are Not Alone

As the infographic shows, 1 in 3 porn users are women. For us it has been helpful to know that there are others who are tempted and struggling. The reason we brought this issue to #staymarried is because we are faced with temptation nearly every day, and we realize that it takes work not to succumb. Porn addiction is one of the most difficult addictions to overcome. xxxchurch.com has become a resource for thousands of men and women, parents and couples, offering a safe online community for awareness and accountability. If you think you’re the only one with this secret, we urge you to read some of the confessions sent into xxchurch.com

Confessions from Men          Confessions from Women

P.S. You are reading Porn vs. You, as part of a #staymarried series on infidelity, pornography, and forgiveness.  If you missed the first three parts, 7 Ways to Become a Better Forgiver5 Ways to Prevent Infidelity, or Is Porn a Problem?: Guest Post by Craig Gross, you might want to check them out. If you want to read more about safeguarding your marriage, you may also like Five Trust Building Boundaries.
Thanks for reading!
~Tony and Michelle

Our Favorites and a GIVEAWAY – Sensible Singles Week

<<This Giveaway is now closed>>

The very best time to improve your marriage is when you are single. Understanding who you really are and cultivating within yourself the ability to really listen to and serve other people are things that a lot of us married people wish we’d done before we made our vows. To finish out our Sensible Singles Week, we wanted to share with you some of our very favorite resources and, of course, host a giveaway to thank you all for sticking with us this week!

:: Discovering Yourself ::

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People

7 Habits of Highly Effective People - #staymarried blog

As Dr. Rachel Terrill mentioned in her post How to Find Your Soulmate in 5 Easy Steps, Self Improvement is key to finding and making yourself ready to be in a great relationship. Seven Habits is a classic, full of insight and self-discovery about what it takes to be effective in your world. Adding even one of the seven habits that you’ll learn about in this book can really change your perspective on the world around you. It was from this book that Tony and I learned the concept, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood,” which we shared more about in our post Same Team.
Find out more about Seven Habits of Highly Effective People here.

Strengths Finder 2.0

Strengths Finder 2.0 on the #staymarried blog

The first time I’d heard of Strengths based research was from the book Now, Discover Your Strengths. While most people become aware of their weaknesses and make efforts to improve themselves, this research instead shows that if we can understand our strengths and lean into them, our efforts will produce much greater results in life- including career and family. This book not only provides insights into the research, but an access code so that you can take the self-assessment and discover your own strengths. Having this insight has truly changed and enlightened Tony and I and helped us navigate our own daily triumphs and struggles, as well as better understand each others.
Find out more about Strengths Finder 2.0 here.

 The Five Love Languages – Singles Edition

The 5 Love Languages Singles Edition on the #staymarried blog

Gary Chapman did so much for couples with his book The Five Love Languages, but Tony and I have since learned how valuable it’s been for us to know how we best express and receive love even outside of our marriage! The Five Love Languages: Singles Edition will help you better express your emotions and affection in friendships, working relationships, or in a dating environment. Rather than being hung up on the topic of being single, Dr. Chapman will help you understand how you and others communicate love in a way that can transform any relationship.
Check out the book here.
Find out YOUR Love Language by taking this FREE online assessment.

 

:: Discovering Your Partner ::

Boundaries in Dating

Boundaries in Dating on the #staymarried blog

When I read Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend, I knew it was revolutionary. But they made it that much more practical and personal when they published Boundaries in Dating. This book is the full picture of rules for romance that can help you find the love of your life. Between singleness and marriage lies the journey of dating. Want to make your road as smooth as possible? Set and maintain healthy boundaries – boundaries that will help you grow in freedom, honesty, and self-control. If many of your dating experiences have been difficult, this book could revolutionize the way you handle relationships. Even if you’re doing well, the insights you’ll gain from this practical book can help you fine-tune or even completely readjust important areas of your dating life. Boundaries in Dating is your roadmap to the kind of enjoyable, rewarding dating that can take you from weekends alone to a lifetime with the soul mate you’ve longed for.
Check it out here.

Date or Soul Mate?
How to Know if Someone is Worth Pursuing in Two Dates or Less

Date Or Soul Mate? on the #staymarried blog

The author of this phenomenal book is none other than Dr. Neil Clark Warren, founder of eHarmony.com. This matchmaking site has now seen over 565,000 of their matches get married! In this practical, quick read, Dr. Warren helps men and women who want healthy and satisfying marriages identify the early warning signs of an unhealthy relationship. Dr. Warren shows readers how to hold out for God’s best for their lives instead of settling for the first one to come along and outlines the factors that increase the chances for marital success. For those who want to become wiser in their relationship choices, this practical guide will help them find the love they want and avoid the pain they don’t need.
You can find Date or Soul Mate here.

For Men Only and For Women Only
What You Need to Know About the Inner Lives of the Opposite Sex

For Women Only and For Men Only on the #staymarried blog

Tony and I first discovered these books on our honeymoon! We were both shocked by what we read, and our eyes were opened to the truth about the way we each think and feel and what really causes each of us the most pain. We shared some of those insights with you in our post The Truth About Tony. These books have since been revised with new research and information learned in the 10 years since their original release, including the brain science behind why men and women often feel the way they do.
You can find out more about these books by clicking on either of these links: For Men Only and For Women Only.

 

:: The GIVEAWAY! ::

<<This Giveaway is now closed>>

Sensible Singles Giveaway on the #staymarried blog