Parenting Conflicts

Having children is a joy. They bring laughter and adventure to your life. They remind you of what is important and bring your focus back away from your own selfish needs onto the well being of others. As a couple, having and raising children can be one of the most rewarding experiences you ever share. It can also be one of the most challenging.

You remember certain things about your childhood that you wish you could change. So does your partner. You look back fondly on your childhood and remember times when you thought your family was near perfect. So does your partner. You swore as a child, a teenager, and an adult that there were certain things you would never do as a parent. So did your partner. Unfortunately, what you see as positive and negative aspects of parenting will be very different in some areas than those of your partner. So how do you raise kids if you can’t agree on what makes a good parent?

Start with the positive. Compare notes. Talk to each other about the things you remember from your childhood that had a positive impact on you. Share happy memories and times when you felt loved and supported by your parents. See what areas overlap. You will surely have times that exemplify the same characteristics or habits. Perhaps you both had families that sat down each night to eat dinner together. Or perhaps you both had a parent that was involved in one of your extra curricular activities. Or maybe you both had set bedtimes and clear rules around household chores.

Whatever the similarities, these are the basis of your joint parenting skills. Write these down and look at what values they illustrate. Eating dinner together as a family exemplifies the values of togetherness, communication, and consistency. Parents participating in children’s activities is a great way to show support and involvement in kids’ lives. And setting firm rules about chores, bedtimes, and other household habits gives children structure and boundaries that they will eventually learn to set for themselves.

With these foundational principles in place, you can take a look at the areas you disliked as kids or teenagers. Go over these memories and ideas in the same way with each other, noting what values these negative experiences violated for you. You should be able to come up with some positive guidelines based on these negative experiences.

Finally, go over any areas where you disagree. Many times, the disagreement is in the area of punishment. You may need to talk this out more than once to hear each other out without getting too emotional. Try letting one person express themselves completely and then listen as the other talks. Take a break and come back at a later time to talk about ways you might compromise. If you are unable to come to an agreement about punishment, do not confuse kids by arguing about it at the time it is necessary. Take action and talk to a professional about how you can work out your differences.



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