If you hope to survive parenthood with your marriage intact you must become unified in all you do. Lock arms (and hearts) and stand firm together! Parenting takes teamwork.
Being unified means understanding that this is not a one-person show. Again, it takes teamwork.
The strength of your union will show in the day-to-day application of the plan you agree on. No matter how much the two of you agree to make your parenting and discipline decisions together, there will be times where one of you is put in a position of having to make an on-the-spot decision.
Your basic, agreed-upon guidelines will help in making that decision. But that is no guarantee that you will end up choosing what your spouse would have chosen. Disagreements are bound to occur. How you handle these situations will tell both you and your children just how united the two of you really are. The following are some suggestions to help couples to keep up a united front in their parenting and marital teamwork:
Teamwork Approach to Parenting:
1. Don’t argue about parenting or discipline decisions in front of the children.
This includes situations where you are both present and need to intervene with your child. It also includes situations where one of you had to make a decision without the other present. If you are both present and struggling to come up with an agreeable solution, call a time-out. The two of you should retreat and discuss this situation privately. During that private time, work on a solution you can agree on. When you return to your child, present the decision with a united front.
2. Support the decisions your spouse makes.
Let’s say you were gone for the afternoon. You came home to find that your spouse has banned your son from the computer for two weeks for what seems to you like a minor offense. Don’t say, “Two weeks? You have to be kidding!” All that does is undermine your spouse’s authority. It also informs your son that there is a weak link in the parenting team. Even if you do not agree on how the situation was handled, show support of your spouse in front of the child. Take time later to talk about it privately and hear the whole story. You may realize that you can now better understand the outcome.
If you still are not in agreement with your spouse, you have two choices. First, you may decide within yourself whether this is really a battle worth fighting. Is the world going to end if you decide to support and follow through with the decision already made? Probably not. So unless the situation is really going to cause some long-term damage, seriously consider supporting it.
The second option is to express to your spouse the reasons for your disagreement. Once the two of you have reached a mutually agreed-upon resolution, present that to your child as a team. Let your child know that the two of you have discussed this and have decided together to overturn the previous decision.
3. Don’t allow your kids to play you against each other.
This truly takes teamwork. “Mom said I could play next door” … “Dad told me it was okay to listen to that CD.” Sound familiar? We have all experienced the “Mom-said-Dad-said” strategy from our children. (If we’re honest, we all tried it ourselves when we were young.)
This is an obvious “divide and conquer” technique that can cause considerable damage to the parenting team. If you fall into the trap of simply believing that the other parent actually did say whatever your child claims, you likely will find yourself arguing with your spouse before you even check it out. “I can’t believe you told [him] he could listen to that CD.” And before your spouse can confirm or deny saying that, you two are off and running (and your son is listening to his CD).
[Children] may keep asking until they get the answer they want. Many children will ask one parent to do something. If the child does not like the answer, it’s off to ask the other parent. Without knowing that you have already said no, your spouse may say yes. Now having gotten the “right” answer, your child gleefully goes about doing whatever he or she had been told not to do (at least by one of you). This not only shows your children that your team is not unified, it also likely will be the source of additional conflicts between the two of you.
Check with Each Other
The best defense against this strategy is a simple, “Let’s go check with your mom (or dad) about this.” Once your children know that you will be checking in with each other and making decisions together, you will have rendered this technique useless.
Successful teams are the ones whose members have learned to work together to accomplish their mutual goals. They understand and respect the importance of teamwork and each spouse’s contribution to the family. They have learned that they can accomplish so much more when they do it together than if they were each trying to go it alone. Successful teams have learned to cooperate.
Co-parenting happens when the [married couple] decides to cooperate in all areas of parenting. It means doing things together and accepting that you are both equally responsible for raising your children. When you co-parent, you work together to set family rules and consequences. You also decide together on family responsibilities, and manage the daily requirements of the home. Anything that involves parenting involves both parents, and it involves teamwork.
The concept of teamwork co-parenting has grown over the past few decades. More and more families have become dual-income families. With both parents working outside the home, couples have started to divide the requirements of running the home more evenly.
More and more fathers participate in household responsibilities such as cooking, cleaning, laundry, and childcare. But even if you are one of those families where one parent works at home while the other works outside the home, you will still benefit from learning to cooperate in the parenting process.
One of the most important points to remember as you work to develop a co-parenting team is to avoid comparing yourself to others. Each parenting team is unique and holds within it a unique set of strengths and weaknesses. When you realize that no two teams are alike, you will understand why comparing yourselves to any other team is just asking for trouble. What you find that seems to work best for your [family] may not work for others. And what they discover works for them may fail miserably within your home…
Focus on the strengths and talents God has created within your team. When you focus on being who God has asked you to be and doing that to the best of your ability, you will become the best spouse and parent you can possibly be.
Teamwork Reflection Questions:
Whose Team Are You On?
1. How well do you feel you and your spouse are working together as a team? What are your strengths? What needs to improve?
2. Have you and your spouse developed a parenting “playbook” in which you have agreed on the various specific parenting interventions? If not, when will you?
3. Are you and your spouse presenting a united front to your children? If you are intentionally or unintentionally sabotaging each other what can you do to change?
4. How do you handle it when you disagree with a parenting decision your spouse has made? If your response is ineffective, how will you change it?
5. When your children try the “mom-said-dad-said” tactic, how do you respond? What teamwork do you have in place to prevent them from dividing you?
6. What strengths and weaknesses do each of you have as parents? How do you complement each other in these areas?
Thank God for putting the two of you together as a team, and for His being the “manager.” Ask for His help as you work together to meet the challenges of parenting.
This edited article concerning teamwork came from the book, Childproofing Your Marriage. It is written by Dr Debbie Cherry, published by David C Cook. In this book Dr Cherry provides easy-to-follow directions to help couples avoid the pitfalls of growing apart.
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Filed under: Childrens Effect on Marriage