Research shows that consistency between parents is critical to parenting success. If parents differ in their parenting approach, they unintentionally undermine each other’s good parenting efforts and cause friction in their marriage. That being said, different parenting approaches are an extremely common issue in families. Parents come from different backgrounds, have different personalities, and are even neurologically wired differently from one another.
So to help you get on the same page and eliminate disagreements over parenting, we have teamed up with marriage and family therapist, Jeff Tesch, LMFT to create this guide for you. It will walk you through the exact steps Jeff uses with his clients.
LISTEN ABOVE OR READ THE SUMMARY BELOW
Jeff Tesch, LMFT
Why It’s Important for Parents to Be on the Same Page
1. Kids won’t develop as well if they’re getting mixed messages from their parents
2. It can lead to marital conflict. Even extreme enough to destroy a marriage
The Top 3 Reasons Parents Parent Differently Than One Another
- Parents grow up differently- You and your spouse/partner grew up in different homes and that has a huge effect on how you parent! Even if you grew up in similar kinds of homes, there’s enough difference from how your parents were vs. how your spouse’s parents were that it effects you in your parenting.
- Different genders are wired to parent differently– In general, females tend to be softer parents and more nurturing, whereas males tend to be firmer. Males also try to push their children out of their comfort zones and expect progression, while moms tend to want to provide comfort, security, and safety.The natural differences in the wiring between males and females is SO good for our kids. Dad’s natural tendency to be firm and push their kids out of the comfort zone provides structure and progression for their kids. The mom’s natural softness creates a home environment where kids can feel safe and loved.Note: the best kind of parenting is a blend of both the natural tendencies of the male and the female. BOTH parents need to be firm AND soft. BOTH parents need to provide safety but push their kids to grow. Learn from each other’s strengths and try to adapt each other’s strengths rather than fighting against each other.
Warning: Parents can get into a TERRIBLE cycle of trying to compensate for the other’s parents weaknesses, becoming more and more extreme everyday.
Say your spouse is very firm and strict. You may try to compensate by being very soft and permissive. This makes your spouse feel like they have to become even more firm and strict, which make you feel like you need to become more soft and permissive.This creates tension and kids learn how to use this to their advantage.
ONCE AGAIN, IT IS BEST IF BOTH PARENTS BECOME A BLEND OF FIRM AND SOFT, STRICT AND LOVING!
To learn more about being a balanced parent, a blend of firm and soft, go here.
- Parents “team up” with one child rather than with their spouse– In some situations, one parent can feel particularly close to one child and “go easy” on them. This can make the other parent feel like they need to be firmer with that particular child. It can also make the other parent feel like their spouse’s relationship with that one child is more important than the marriage relationship.It is very important to remember that the marriage comes first and that you need to have an equal relationship with each of your children.
How to Get Onto the Same Page as Your Partner/Spouse
We HIGHLY recommend you download this worksheet to do with your spouse/partner. It will walk you through each of the steps we’re about to teach you.
STEP 1: TWEAK HOW YOU APPROACH YOUR PARTNER
If you approach your parenting partner saying, “I’ve got it all figured out. I know how to parent the right way now and I just need to teach you.” your partner is very likely going to be resistant.
Something you could say that would be more effective would be “We’re on a different page, I want to be united with you. Can we sit down and work this out together?”
Changing your verbiage can help your partner feel less defensive and more willing to work towards a solution.
STEP 2: AGREE ON OUTCOMES
Sit down with your parenting partner to answer the following questions:
What are the outcomes that we want for our children?
How do we want our children to behave?
WE WANT OUR CHILDREN TO BE:
1. Happy, healthy adults
2. Contributing members of society
3. Respectful, responsible, reliable
4. Honest and obedient
5. Self-confident and Self-compassionate
This step helps you find common ground with your partner and helps you clearly see what you want for your kids. When you can see a clear destination, it’s easier find out how to get there.
STEP 3: USE EACH OTHER’S STRENGTHS
Let go of the idea that someday you’re going to start thinking and parenting exactly the same. In most parenting partnerships, one parent tends to be a little more firm while another tends to be a little more permissive and guess what? Those are actually the two sides of healthy parenting! But what happens to many couples is one parent will try to be more firm to compensate for the other parent’s softness while the soft parent becomes more soft to try to compensate for the other parent’s firmness. It’s an ineffective cycle that you need to break.
Here are some questions for you to answer to help you bring your strengths together to create an approach that is a healthy representation of both of you:
- What are the strengths of each of you?
- How could you use those strengths in your parenting?
STEP 4: CREATE RULES FOR THE HOME
This is not often an area of disagreement. Most people want their kids to behave. Use your list from Step 2 to guide you as you create family rules. After you have completed Step 5, share these rules with your kids so they clearly know what will be expected of them.
*We do recommend changing only a few new rules at a time. If you completely overhaul your family, it can cause an escalation in negative behavior. Pace yourselves, that is more likely set everyone up for success.
STEP 5: AGREE ON CONSEQUENCES
WARNING: This is the area of most disagreement.
Take your list from Step 4. You are now going to discuss appropriate consequences for when a child breaks a family rule. You will need to agree on the consequences.
Often times, one parent wants to go strong with consequences while the other one wants to go soft. We can go too big and that’s not going to work. We can go too small and that’s not going to work either. Often, the best solution is to meet in the middle.
Example: The dad feels like the parents need to take a child’s phone away for a week. Mom’s thinking for the day. Do three days. We can get that practical around those kind of things to find common ground and to get on the same page.
STEP 6: BE UNITED IN FRONT OF THE KIDS
When you disagree on how to parent your child, move into another room until you can come to an agreement. Then face the child together to visually and verbally display that you’re on the same page. Use words like “This is what we have decided. This is the plan for this behavior. This is what we will be doing from now on.”
STEP 7: CHECK IN WITH EACH OTHER FREQUENTLY
Take frequent opportunities to discuss your parenting approach and to use this guide to maintain your unification. That way, you address issues before they become very large and very challenging.
WARNING! You don’t want to be on the WRONG same-page with your spouse! Click here to learn about the healthiest way to parent.