Parenting is hard and it’s really hard when parents don’t agree. Every parent brings to their relationship and parenting journey different backgrounds, perspectives, and experiences all of which shape us in different ways. And the reality is in order to raise strong great kids who are excited about their lives, we need to find ways of handling the differences in a kind loving way. Our kids need us strong and aligned, so that they are getting consistent aligned messages and always feel safe. So if you and your spouse are struggling navigating the differences, here are five suggestions to help you and your spouse handle situations when you don’t agree.
1. Respect Your Differences
Always respect each other’s opinion even when it’s really hard and don’t shame or embarrass each other in private or in front of the kids. Criticizing and not respecting each other is just going to cause resentment and withdrawal from the relationship. Just because your spouse’s opinion is different from yours doesn’t make them wrong. Just different.
2. Yield to Each Other’s Expertise
As parents we typically have things we are really good at and other things where we struggle. For example, my husband Joe is really good at knowing and bringing fun into our lives and taking chances. Whereas I am really good at keeping us organized and empathizing. So when a situation calls for a little risk taking and possibly letting our kids get hurt (within reason of course!), I usually defer to his judgement. But when a situation calls for a little compassion, he lets me be in charge.
3. Find Ways of Compromising
It isn’t always easy, but if you focus on the outcome you want rather than how it is going to get done, finding ways of compromising can be really helpful. It also sets a really good example for your kids when they see their parents finding ways to get along and make compromises for each other.
4. Define What’s Important
Agree on a common set of values and keep them in front of you while parenting. What are the 2 or 3 values that you really want to make sure your kids leave home with? Define and align these values up front and then use them to help navigate decisions and differences.
5. Fix the Problems in Your Relationship First
Make sure the differences and arguments aren’t really about your marriage or relationship troubles. If you have problems in your relationship chances are they will spill over into your parenting. Get honest and real about what they are and work like heck to fix them.
Remember, one of the best things you can do for your kids is to show and model healthy strong relationships. So even when you disagree (and you most certainly will) you need to find ways of working through the differences and finding the right answers for your kids and for your marriage.
Good luck! Until next time, stay safe, stay strong, stay excited,