Parenting is filled with disagreements: how long kids should be on screens, how much candy they can have, how many extracurricular activities they need to be involved in, should they be paid for tasks or not, and so on.
How we were raised has a great impact on our parenting beliefs. We either want to parent like our parents did, or want to do the exact opposite of what they did. Whether we like it not, our cultural, social, and historical background largely impacts how we perceive our roles as mothers and fathers, and how we believe kids should be raised.
Problem is, those beliefs aren’t always in line with our partner’s beliefs, and even when partners both agree on important values for their kids, they might not agree on the most effective method to get there. Parenting from the same page is not always easy.
Although parenting on different wavelengths doesn’t necessarily mean that your relationship is in trouble or that your partner is a “terrible parent,” it can send confusing messages to kids and can cause friction in your relationship
How to parent on the same page
Parenting on the same page doesn’t mean trying to erase all differences in parenting styles. In any event, minor differences will always exist and can even be positive. Here are five ways to parent on the same page:
1 | Find out why things bother you
Sometimes a deep reflection on the things that bother us can reveal interesting things. Sometimes, our values are guided by others’ perceptions of the type of parents we should be. Sometimes they’re guided by misinformation. Knowing what drives our parenting beliefs and getting informed on the things that bug us can help us better identify what really matters.
2 | Get vocal about what really matters to you
Although your partner might know that something about your different parenting values bothers you, he might not know the extent to which it really bothers you if you don’t voice it. Speaking about the values that really count makes it easier for your partner to see things from your perspective. It might also reveal that you’re not as opposed to one another as you think.
Let your partner know if you feel really strongly about something and ask for support. You might say something like, “I know you don’t feel the same way about this but it really bothers me. I’d really appreciate your support.”
3 | Negotiate over major differences
Major differences in parenting can be frustrating and can put a strain on your relationship. Learning to see things from your partner’s perspective and explaining why you feel the way you do can help you reach a compromise.
To negotiate successfully, you have to be clear about the issue at hand. What are your hot buttons? What are your partner’s hot buttons? What are your non-negotiables? Can you find common ground?
Be sincere and choose the right timing. Negotiations undertaken when you’re angry, tired, or anxious are unlikely to lead to the results you seek.
As with all negotiations, when we attack our partners’ views, they are likely to respond by protecting themselves and attacking right back. Rather than challenge you partner’s views, focus on your own. Use “I feel” and “I think” statements.
4 | Treat minor differences with respect
It’s normal to have differences in parenting styles. Minor differences can even provide a positive experience for kids because they can teach them that people do not have to share the same opinion to get along. Treating each other’s differences with respect also helps kids learn to appreciate differences in other people.
5 | Make a pact to support each other
Unless your partner’s view of parenting involves actions that may be detrimental to your kid, putting up a united front can help you parent on the same page. For example, make a pact to always support the first parent that disciplines a kid, even if it’s against your values.
The thing to remember when you’re on different wavelengths is that the only way to find common ground is to talk and listen.