7 Ways to Handle Parenting Disagreements
We’re human. We’re not always going to agree with our spouse’s methods of parenting. The upside – it’s important for kids to see their parents work out their disagreements, and for them to know that even though you don’t agree, you still love each other. The downside – consistent disagreeing and arguing in front of children can have a lasting impact on their emotional health…especially depending on their sensitivity.
I’m a feisty red-head. So yes, I’ve been known to have my occasional outbursts! It ain’t pretty!
When it comes to raising my kids, the idea of wanting them to always retain their sense of self, as well as stay tapped into their intuition is foremost on my mind. When I feel this may be being treaded on, AND I haven’t been giving myself the self-care I need to stay in my “zen zone, ” you may lay witness to one of my less than enlightened moments! In fact, one of these moments happened not too long ago….
My husband and I don’t always come from the same place in our beliefs around parenting. In general however, we are on the same page enough that life runs pretty smoothly. For the most part we are able to balance each other out. BUT every once in awhile we butt heads on how to handle a situation.
As I mentioned, when I feel that our conflicting views may be jeopardizing the emotional health of our children, I get a little heated around the collar…and of course when I feel this, I tend to think my way is the “right” way!
…There lies the first problem. When we begin to believe that only our way is the “right” way, we are no longer open-minded, and hence shut down the path of communication. My husband certainly doesn’t want to listen to my point of view when I’m coming from a place of “all knowing.”
In having conversations with my husband about my views on Soulful Parenting, as well as simply just living what I believe, I have found that he has softened his strong Italian, Catholic views….and I have even caught him using my own expressions with the kids! From this I have definitely learned that modelling is much more effective than dictating…especially when in the heat of the moment.
Now going back to my less than prideful outburst, I feel it’s imperative to share how my kids reacted to this. Both of them being sensitive, however in different ways, they each reacted differently to the forceful energy I had when in the midst of my temper tantrum (may as well call it what it was!).
My daughter being empathic, meaning a deep feeler, responded by shutting down. She began to cry, covered her face, and tried to escape from the situation. My son didn’t respond in the moment, however after the fact, when I was doling out my apologies, he let me know that I owed my husband an apology (which I had already done). His sensitivity came from the place of compassion and concern for my husband.
Now, I’m not painting this picture so that I can make myself look like a bad guy, but because I believe it’s so important to recognize how our children react to our reactions. Depending on their sensitivity they can really be affected by being exposed to these types of regular outbursts. In my daughters case, if she was regularly exposed to that type of behaviour from me, she would begin to shut down in order to cope with her sensitivity….and in shutting down, she is also shutting down her source of intuitive guidance.
As for the case with my son, even though he is also sensitive, it’s on a different place on the spectrum, and he isn’t impacted to the degree that my daughter is. Children today have a deeper knowing then ever before, and because of this many of them don’t buy into the old paradigms of parenting. Parents that are still living and parenting according to the old paradigms will find that challenging, because some children that have turned their backs on the old ways appear to us as “rebelling.” Although my son wasn’t rebelling, he had no qualms in letting me know that I needed to atone for my unreasonable behaviour.
Regardless of the type of sensitivity our child has, as parents we still need to take ownership of our reactions.
I’m happy to say outbursts are NOT a regular occurrence in our household, since I’m typically very conscious of taking care of my own needs so that I am able to remain in a more peaceful place. However, we are all human, and we will from time to time have moments that don’t highlight our best side. But that does not excuse that my reaction in the particular moment was inappropriate.
So, how do you handle disagreements with your spouse?
Here are 7 things to keep in mind:
1) Respond instead of react – this boils down to your own inner work because whatever head space you’re in impacts your reaction. Your own self-care is vital. When in a disagreement, the key is not to correct or argue in front of the kids. This one can be a tough one to curb. Admittedly I sometimes have a hard time biting my tongue, BUT understanding the importance I have definitely gotten better with this!
2) Communication – we often try to get our point across in the heat of the moment. As I’m sure you’ve already learned, this is not effective. Once the situation has died down, discuss both your views in a calm and open-minded manner.
3) Accept what is – accept you may not always get your spouse to see your way…and vice versa. As long as it’s not inhibiting your child’s growth and connection, let it go and trust that you have equipped your child with the strength of their own mind. Agree to disagree.
4) Reframe the blame – we can easily get in the frame of mind that our way is the only way. Keep in mind there are many paths to raising a healthy, balanced, and successfully fulfilled child. ….And just maybe your combined views when working together (instead of fighting against) are exactly what your child needs. It can foster open-mindedness, and flexibility.
5) Own up to your part – this ties in with the blaming. It’s easier to take the heat off ourselves and blame our spouse, BUT when we are willing to own our part it creates the space for real communication and understanding to happen. It’s also critical for kids to see their parents admit when they’re wrong, to apologize, and to make up (…just don’t take this part too far in front of them! Wink wink).
6) Resist the “add on” – to support our argument we can sometimes pull in reinforcements by bringing up past irritations and frustrations. Resist this. Focus on the issue at hand.
7) Decide and agree on future handlings – whether you begin to see eye to eye or not, it’s important to determine how you can both calmly handle this type of situation if it arises again. By knowing in advance you are more able to respond in a constructive and supportive manner. You won’t be triggered into a reaction that could escalate.
Handling differing points of view and disagreements with your spouse can pose a challenge when parenting, but with consistency and a commitment to your children the connection it creates within the family is what makes working it out all worthwhile!!!