Becoming a parent is one of the most underestimated difficulties of a lifetime. Many do it without thinking or meaning to, while others plan to have a family from the time they’re still just children themselves. When everything falls neatly into place, parenting is still difficult. However, for many, nothing falls into place at all, making the job three times as hard. It’s a special kind of difficulty when you and your spouse having differing opinions on the best parenting practices.
Let’s take a few minutes to go over how to approach parenting disagreements so that you and your spouse can get back on the same page again.
One of the most important things about parenting is to keep your disputes away from your children. Children are very observant and will notice if their parents are unhappy with each other or arguing all the time. To avoid all of the negative effects this can have on a child’s sense of safety and stability, you must keep disagreements private. Even small disagreements, if frequent, can have a lasting effect on your child’s impression of you both.
Both parents should keep disagreement of the other’s actions to themselves until you’re both able to talk privately. In a situation where a decision will take immediate effect, quickly asking to talk for a moment and stepping away from the room is a good idea. For less imminent decisions, a differing opinion can wait until later the same day.
When a child can pick up on the incongruence in their parents’ opinions, it can lead to things such as:
- Uncertainty on their own opinion of what’s right or okay
- Disobedience of a new rule or boundary if they know it wasn’t a unanimous decision
- Anxiety about their parents’ relationship
Talk – Don’t Argue
The next most important thing about sorting out parenting disagreements is ensuring you both approach the conversation with the intention to talk, not argue. Arguing over parenting decisions is quick to make both parties defensive and irate. Instead, approach the conversation with a willingness to hear your partner’s reasoning and work through the decision together.
One of the best ways to help iron out what the best course of action to take is is by researching. Many frequently disagreed-upon parenting practices are the kind of thing that has had its effect on children studied. By researching the effects certain rules or parenting policies have on kids, you can make an informed decision about the best way to parent your child.
It’s important, however, to avoid confirmation bias. Frequently, when two people in disagreement research together, it’s with the intention of finding evidence for their own opinion. However, this can lead to confirmation bias – the tendency to only see what supports your own side. Try to approach research with the intention to find the truth – even if it supports your partner’s view instead.
If you and your partner find yourselves disagreeing very frequently or you find disagreements turn into unavoidable arguments, it might be time for some counseling. Couples counseling is a great way to bring understanding and peace back into the lives of you and your spouse. Give us a call and schedule an appointment with Esther Benbihy today.