Kids love to divide and conquer. They have a sixth sense about whether mum and dad agree on things, and if they detect a gap in your standards, watch out! Our lovely kids are smart enough to charge through those gaps in our parental ranks to get to the things they want.
One of the keys to a settled home is to be united in your parenting – it creates a home that children feel secure in. The word ‘team’ is so important when it comes to parenting with your partner. Create the atmosphere together, the boundaries together and the goals together – all of these define the environment your children will grow up in.
Tips to set you on your way
Visibly love each other
Yes, kissing in front of the kids will make them gag, but it also creates an environment of security. “If Mum and Dad are okay, we are okay.” And remember, they are smart – if they know you are on the same team, they won’t be able to play you off each other.To be united means knowing how the other ticks. What are your needs from the relationship? What are your partner’s needs? Set aside time to be together as a couple.
Being united also means knowing how the family ticks. Each of you will observe different things going on in the family over the day so share your insights and observations. Spend time chatting about the kids and discussing the issues that are coming up.
Be agreed on boundaries
Set firm boundaries such as –
- No name calling
- Listen to each other
- Cell phones off at mealtimes
- Be polite to everyone
Being together on these gives consistency at home and creates a calmer atmosphere. There will be more negotiable boundaries around room tidiness, what a child wears, TV time and bedtime as well.
Learn to be flexible and work as a tag team
We all get tired with parenting and have other stresses in our lives as well. Watch out for each other and step up if your partner is not coping or seems to be losing it. But do it discretely and sensitively – if you take over and overrule your partner, it can send the message to your kids (and your partner) that you are not in agreement.
Ask each other, “How did that go? How am I doing as a parent?” – but only if you are prepared to hear their answers! Debrief after difficult times at home. It is important to be open and honest with each other – even when it can hurt a little.
Back each other up
You don’t have to agree on everything. Real people have real differences on many issues. The important thing is not perfect agreement – it’s a united front of cooperation and communication. If you give an instruction or set a boundary and your kids tell you it is different from what their other parent has already said, then unless there are hugely important reasons not to, defer to the earlier ruling. “Oh really? You’d better do what he says. I’ll talk to him about what his reasons are.” Or, “Hmm, okay. I’ll talk to her and get back to you.”
Some people would say, “Never disagree in front of your children.” But try this instead – “Never disagree disagreeably in front of your children.” As role models, one of the things you should be modelling is how two adults can resolve differences or disagree but concede to one another, and do it in a peaceful, friendly, mature way. If you can do this well, your children will benefit to occasionally witness it.
Book a session with a Family Coach
Sometimes family life is way more challenging than we had ever imagined. We would like it to be a lot more enjoyable, if only we knew how. Family coaching is designed to meet you where you are at, whatever stage you are at on your parenting and relationship journey. We want to be on the journey with you. To find out more and to book a session, click here.