Dad Says Yes, Mom Says No: How to Be Consistent Parents?
September 9, 2020
Before becoming parents, you and your significant other shared mutual activities and interests. You took the time to discuss and share your ideas, values, points of view, which were sometimes different, but you always found a way to adapt to the other person. Now that you’re parents, what’s changed? Why is it that sharing opinions and agreeing can become so problematic?
Being on the same wavelength with your partner and being consistent with your children on a daily basis can be tricky. Your day-to-day goes by so quickly that you don’t have (or take!) the time to discuss with your partner when something is wrong. In addition, everyone received a unique emotional baggage, moral principles, values, and education that influence their behaviour and reactions in various circumstances. So, certain situations can quickly deteriorate and turn into conflicts when all these elements are combined with the stress of the day! Nevertheless, as a parent, you must establish cohesive rules and family living conditions to create a pleasant environment that will allow your children to grow up confidently. However, at certain times and for different reasons, parents diverge from these fine principles. They become less objective in what they say and lose sight of the essential, i.e. forming a strong team for their children.
What You Can Do
Knowing everyone comes from different backgrounds and has their own values and principles, communication is the key to promoting a climate of respect and emotional security. I often suggest to couples they plan alone time as well as time to be together. Spending time alone, learning to know yourself and to respect your needs helps you be open and receptive to others. On the other hand, the moments spent with your partner are an opportunity to make adjustments and be able to see the other person’s point of view better. It’s important to try as much as possible to adopt a calm, nonjudgmental attitude. These moments help you understand the other person’s behaviour and allow couples to adjust and find the right balance in how they educate their children. Agreeing with the other person doesn’t mean approving of everything they say and do, but rather to clarify and understand their actions and behaviours and, mostly, to identify the need they’re trying to meet.
I like the saying “Stronger together.” Working hand in hand and being present and available for the other person. Understanding and identifying the right need in situations that pose a challenge for either parent. Knowing how to be there for each other while respecting the other person’s parental role.
Here’s a simple exercise to do with your significant other:
- On a sheet of paper, write down three important rules in the house.
- Explain why it’s important for you.
- Note your reactions and the words you use when these rules are not respected. Would you like to act or talk differently?
- If yes, indicate what you’d need to act differently. Talking in the first person will help you communicate more easily.
- Share your answers and take the time to listen to one another. Allow each person to put their emotions into words, then validate you both understood the information shared.
- Determine together what the other person could do to help you when disciplining your children. You could even come up with a visual or verbal code that indicates you need support during difficult situations.
- Discuss the method and actions you want to use to ensure each person is respected.
When Children Witness Disagreements
Children often learn through observation. They don’t need their parents to be perfect, but simply to get the right course of action from them. Is there sometimes a “nice parent” and “mean parent” in your household? Don’t worry! It’s completely normal and every family experiences this. There’s no such thing as perfect parents, but parents who learn!
Here are some strategies you can use with your partner in front of your child:
- Tell your child you need a moment with the other parent to think about the answer rather than answer right away.
- Ask the other parent for help in order to remain calm during conflicts.
- Use humour and play to lighten the mood and maintain a good relationship with your child.
- Observe and listen to the other parent’s signals so you can offer your help if needed.
- Use a code to indicate you need a moment to talk rather than act right away and compromise the other parent’s authority.
These strategies can help you maintain healthy relationships with your children and partner in everyday life. They also give your children a positive model of conflict management and are examples of effective and positive strategies to use in their relationships with you and others.
Lastly, taking time for yourself and your couple creates pleasant moments to share as a family. You’ll quickly realize these moments are important and beneficial for everyone, because they make you strong, confident, and help you be in harmony with yourself. Give yourself the time to identify your strengths, weaknesses, small challenges to overcome, values and limits, to not only be the best version of yourself for your children and your better half, but also be more at peace with what happens under your roof.
If you and your partner encounter difficulties finding the right balance regarding your children’s education, you can always seek the help of one of our coaches, who will provide guidance while respecting your parental role.