5 Ways To Avoid Parenting Fights In Marriage
“Dad, can I go spend the night at Jerry’s house?”, asks your eleven-year-old-son. “I don’t know Jerry or his parents, so I think you need to stay home tonight.” “Oh, honey, I know Jerry’s mother and they don’t live far. I think it would be alright to let him go.”, says your wife.
Does this sound familiar? Does your spouse frequently contradict you in front of the kids? Do you and your spouse argue over parenting decisions often? If you and your spouse constantly disagree on how to parent your children, resort to undermining each other’s authority, and contradicting each other’s words to your children, your marriage is in trouble.
The result of fighting over parenting is that your children end up confused about who to listen to. Each of you become ineffective parents. Your marital relationship suffers. At some point, you have got to get on the same page.
In every marriage, there will be disagreements over parenting. How you handle those disagreements makes all the difference. You need to learn how to resolve disagreements productively, calmly, and out of hearing range of the children.
Here are 5 ways to Avoid Parenting Fights
- Back Each Other Up
You and your spouse need to present yourselves as a unified team to your child, or it will undermine your authority as parents. Make it a rule that if one parent disciplines a child, the other parent must back it up, even if the other parent disagrees with the punishment. Later, you and your spouse can talk about alternate ways to handle discipline.
- Address disagreements with your spouse in private.
Every time you argue with your spouse over parenting, the focus shifts away from your child’s behavior. The more this goes on, the more your child learns that they can get around your decision by playing you against your spouse. Keep the focus on your child whenever your child is present.
- Listen to Your Spouse’s Opinion
This is not a competition. The goal is not to win the argument. The goal is to arrive at the best decision for your child and maintain harmony in your marriage. Say your 15-year-old daughter is invited to a party at a friend’s house. Your spouse is not comfortable with her going because they don’t trust the friend’s parents to supervise the party. You don’t want your daughter to be “labeled” by friends. Your spouse says, “I feel strongly about this, and I need you to support me on this. I don’t want our daughter to be put in harm’s way.” While you may not agree with your spouse, try to see their side of things, and agree to support them.
- Don’t Throw Your Spouse under the Bus
If you and your spouse cannot come to an agreement on a parenting issue, do not tell your child that “Your Father says NO” or “Your Mother Does Not Want You to Go.” You are setting your spouse up as the Bad Guy or the Witch, while you appear to be their friend. You are avoiding hostility from your child at the expense of your spouse. Before you say anything to your child regarding a decision, discuss it thoroughly with your spouse and agree that while you don’t agree with their position, you will go along with their decision. Don’t break your rule of unity.
- Discuss Parenting Issues Calmly.
A discussion is two people exchanging ideas and listening to one another calmly and respectfully. If the conversation escalates into sarcasm, put-downs, yelling, or fighting, take a time-out from each other. Ask your spouse if you can discuss this later when you are both calm.
Remember that this is your family. Practice listening to each other’s point of view without interruption or reacting. Just listen. Then ask questions of each other. And talk about why this issue is important. Try to understand each other’s point of view and find common ground. Then ask each other “What can we do to compromise?”Learn more about our Couples Therapy Exercises