You’re wrong, I’m right

My husband and I have very different parenting styles. While he is the laidback, laissez faire, roll-with-the-punches type, I am more along the lines of Adolf… my friend… Hitler. I have very strong ideas on most parenting topics. I also have a problem giving up control. It can also sometimes spin out of control and become a husband and wife quarrel and the original issue of parenting is completely sidelined. So what can you do when you and your spouse just don’t see eye to eye on parenting issues?

1. Rule No 1: Not in front of the kids. Kids are very, very smart. Waaaaay smarter than you and me. Once they sense there is a disconnect between parents, they will milk it as much as they can. Always argue and disagree with your spouse in private. Have a code or a sign that says, “We need to discuss this in private.” Keep your children out of your disagreements. It can also be scary and unsettling for little children to see their parents arguing over them and tend to blame themselves for their fighting.

2. Twist the good cop, bad cop routine: Sometimes, we see one parent is always the good cop and the other the bad — For eg.: One parent is the healthy eating nazi, and the other one is the “hey, let’s eat some chips for breakfast” fun parent. To balance out the relationship with the kids, it is important that parents switch roles every now and then and take on the role of the bad cop.

3. Do not undermine: Sometimes, your spouse may say something to the kids that you strongly disagree and you did not have time or a heads up to discuss it in private. Do not jump in and undermine your spouse. Also, if your spouse has set some rules, in their absence do not break those rules. Even if you disagree, go with it. This communicates to your children that both parents’ decisions are to be respected. Otherwise, it could seriously impact your relationship with your spouse and your child starts playing you against each other.

4. Too many cooks: In the Indian social milieu, sometimes issues are further complicated when the grandparents also jump in and take sides, pitting you against each other. When they do that, lay it out straight that you will discuss it and others need to just stay out of the discussion. You can fight later, but first, present a united front that you will take care of it together. This is important for domestic harmony.

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5. Don’t try to score brownie points: Don’t try to get pally with your child by berating  your spouse. ‘Yeah, I understand, mom is wrong, but what to do!’ You might think you are going to win the cooler parent award from your kid, but really a bad idea in the long run. Whatever they say, children want both parents and they value your harmony more than anything else! It gives them security and peace of mind. So don’t try to be chummy with your kid by joining them in bad mouthing your spouse.

6. Ask for support : If you and your spouse are on different pages of an issue, then the person who feels more strongly about the issue should ask the other parent for support. For example, my husband thinks sleepovers are okay, whereas I do not feel safe enough letting my daughter go . Since I am more passionate about this, I need to ask my husband to support me in this decision since I care more about this outcome.

We are all a mixed baggage of how we were raised and who we are. Some of us want to raise our kids exactly how our parents raised us, while others want to do exactly the opposite. As we all know, there is no guarantee of any outcome no matter what approach you use. And above all, your children will benefit more from harmonious parents who do a slipshod job of parenting than two parents with PhDs in parenting philosophies and technologies but always at war with each other. So give in a little, chill a little, and take comfort in the fact that children are incredibly resilient and are hard to break despite you or your spouse screwing up a lot.

Click here to read how to handle your kids if they come across you arguing with your spouse.

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