When deciding to have a baby, our minds often fill with idealistic thoughts of daddy playing ball with his little boy, or mommy baking cookies with her little girl, cheeks dusted in flour. We envision peaceful family dinners where everyone sits and talks about their day. What we don’t envision is the times of conflict, discipline and other struggles that parenting will bring to our family.
Each spouse brings to a marriage (or partnership) a different childhood experience. This and personality differences, can often bring a conflict in parenting styles. One parent may be significantly more lenient than the other; the other may be stricter. These differences are not only difficult and confusing to our children, but can place added stresses on a marriage. Our visions and dreams of parenthood, and our perfect family become overshadowed by conflict.
Although discussing major discipline issues before we become parents can be helpful, we do not always know how we will parent until we are actually parents. Until confronted with the situation, it is hard to know how we will react. Because of this, constant communication between parents is essential to a happy family setting.
The way we communicate can have a huge influence on the success of our joint parenting effort. Here is a list of communication tips that I have found helpful:
-Wait to discuss parenting and discipline issues until you can do so away from the eyes and ears of your children.
-Back up your spouses discipline choices. If your spouse tells a child to go to their room and you lessen the punishment to just an apology, your child will learn to come to you to attempt to negotiate a lesser punishment each time they are disciplined by your spouse. If you strongly disagree with the punishment, take your spouse aside and calmly explain your point of view. If a decision to lessen the punishment is made, allow the spouse who originally set the punishment explain the changes to your child.
-When discussing differences or problems with discipline, do not put your spouse on the defensive. If the first words out of your mouth are accusatory your spouse’s natural reaction will be to defend his point of view at all costs. I find that when I begin by admitting my own faults, it is easier to discuss problems you may see in your spouses parenting style.
Parenting is a hard job, make it easier by working as a team!