When Parents Don’t Agree On Parenting
“The disruptive behavior I could handle. The most stressful time as a parent is when my husband and I don’t agree how to handle the child’s behavior. When my husband and I don’t agree the whole system shuts down.”
That’s absolutely true. It’s very stressful and counter productive when parents don’t agree on how to handle the children. It’s also to be expected!
There are many reasons that parents disagree on how to handle the child’s behavior. Each parent grew up under a different parenting style. His parents handle behavior one way, but the home she grew up in most likely handled discipline a very different way. Add to that the fact that we tend to marry our opposites. Each parent has a different temperament with different behavioral expectations. These are just a few of the reasons parents disagree on how to handle the children.
Believe it or not it’s actually an asset. It certainly means there’s a challenge to overcome, but it doesn’t mean the parenting in that home is doomed to failure. Parents with differing approaches have the opportunity to blend their opinions in order to come up with an even better approach for training the children then they ever would individually.
The Abdicator Parent: First the down side of differing opinions. If it’s not acknowledged, it can cause great disruption in the family. Many times, out of frustration, one parent abdicates their parenting role turning that responsibility over to the other parent. Abdication is just easier than arguing.
The Saboteur Parent: Another dysfunctional approach to differing parental opinions is sabotage. One parent attempts to subvert the other parent, in private. “Don’t worry about what your Dad just said. I’ll get it for you later when he’s not around.” This just teaches kids that the parents need to be divided and then conquered. It certainly doesn’t teach the child anything about a healthy marriage.
The Dominator Parent: This is the parent that will have nothing to do with a blended approach to parenting. It’s their way or nothing. This approach teaches the children very poor lessens about marriage. It also leaves the children without the balanced parenting approach God prepared for them when He permitted the parents to marry in the first place.
The One Flesh Parent: For the sake of the children, parents need to embrace their differences and learn to work together. For the sake of the marriage, spouses need to listen to each others opinions. For the sake of the family parents need to come to the middle of their differing opinions and find consensus.
When there is an area of discipline or training that the parents don’t agree on everything needs to stop. A parental staff meeting needs to take place. Opinions on how and why an action should to be taken needs to be discussed. Then common consensus needs to be reached. It needs to be a plan that both parents are willing to support.
In many homes one parent serves as the disciplinarian while the other parent is the relationship nurturer. The parent that can see disciplinary issues that must be dealt with is often the parent that needs help with the nurture side of parenting. Conversely, the other parent might tend to let the child’s behavioral challenges slide for the sake of maintaining relationship.
Both approaches are wrong a damaging to the child. But when they are combined into one approach they are perfect. The child receives the correction he or she needs while still receiving the nurturing necessary for healthy emotional development.
Never is one of us as good as both of can be…if we work together. That’s God’s plan and it’s called “One Flesh Parenting.” Two people working together, bringing their skills to the planning table and blending them for the sake of the child and the marriage.
When parents choose to listen to each other and work together everyone wins and the children see a marriage working the way God planned. When one parent dominates and forces his or her way of parenting on the other parent, everyone looses. In the two parent home, two parents are required, but they must be willing to spend the effort to become “One flesh” when making parenting decisions.
The goal of this process is to reach the point where both parents agree to the point where it really doesn’t matter which parent is present. The answer would be the same but the parents are functioning as if they are one.