What guidance does the Bible provide?
Surviving parenthood is difficult enough when you agree, but what do you do when you disagree on a parenting issue? If you hope to parent as a team, you must find common ground and unite in decisions regarding your children.
Proverbs 22:6 says, "Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it." Because we are influenced by our past and experiences, our perspectives will always be different. Being unified as parents mean we merge the strengths and talents God has given each of us and work together in making decisions for our child. Begin by asking God to help you and continue to seek His guidance in raising your child, giving him a lifetime of loving God.
Things to think about:
Parents make hundreds of decisions each day, so it is impossible to stop and discuss each decision. Therefore, it is important to consider key areas such as discipline, bedtime, eating, and setting limits, before your children are born (if possible). Because it will be impossible to agree on every decision, there are some areas that will be helpful in working as a parenting team:
- Never argue about a parenting decision in front of your children. If you are both present, remove yourself from the situation and take the time to talk through the situation without your child present. Presenting the decision with a united front will signal to your child that you are parenting as a team, and they cannot divide you or redirect the focus away from the issue at hand.
- Always support any decision your spouse makes without you. When the inevitable happens, support your spouse in the moment and uphold their decision. Then remove yourself from the child and discuss the decision in a private setting. Always assume the best of your spouse; listen to their story and keep an open mind about rules they have made. Decide together how to make any changes necessary. Never speak negatively to your child about the other spouse and any decision they have made.
- Steer clear of the "divide and conquer" manipulation of you child. Children are masters at manipulation: they may imply that one parent has agreed to a decision to get the answer they desire. If in doubt, ask! "Let's see what (Mom or Dad) thinks." This will again signal to your child that you are working together for their best interest.
What do I do now?
We all have different strengths and weaknesses, so we will always approach parenting issues from our unique perspectives. It is important to find a way to work together, so our children are not put in the middle of an adult conflict. This is an excellent chance to listen to your spouse and work together. Your kids will benefit from watching your teamwork and will have a basis for their future as parents. When you can't agree, try discussing the disagreement at a neutral time when you're not in the heat of the moment. Listen for common ground and use that as a starting point. If you still can't agree, it may be time to bring in a third party to give you some perspective.
Want to go deeper?
This article lists ten ways to parent as a team when you disagree:
This article gives advice on how to co-parent when your styles are very different:
This article has an excellent list of "Do's and Don'ts tips for parenting as a team:
The following gives suggestions to help couples keep a united front: