Healthy Ways to Parent as a Team

Posted on May 30, 2013

Have you ever noticed how well your children know you and know which parent to ask in order to get what they want?  Have you ever had a fight with your spouse because your spouse changed an answer or consequence you gave to your child?  Have you begun to notice how different your parenting styles are and how differently you are treated by your children because of your parenting style?  If so, congratulations on being normal!

Typically, one parent in the family handles discipline and the other is the emotional provider.  The difference in parenting style often causes differences between spouses on how to handle situations with their children.  The emotional provider tends to be more permissive and the disciplinarian tends to be more rigid.  In addition, children are highly skilled from a young age to recognize the parenting styles of parents and use that knowledge to their advantage when meeting a personal need.  That is why a teenage girl who wants to stay out an hour later with her friends on the weekend will typically ask permission from the parent who is the emotional provider because this parent will be more likely to meet her need.  Why would a child ask for something from a parent who is most likely to say “no,” or be less willing to have a conversation about the request? 

The problem with this dynamic is that the parental unit is weakened over time by increased conflict and frustration about parenting.  Children living within this dynamic are essentially coming between parents and are gaining influence within the parental unit.  Instead of parents working together to help guide and make decisions for their children, the children are now working together with a parent to help guide and decide their own decisions. 

My desire is to bring parents back together and create a space for new parenting styles.  Spouses do not always need to agree with one another on a parental decision to regain their influence within the family, but they do need to respect one another and support one another in parental decision making.  Below are suggestions to help reestablish the parental unit within the family.

1. Begin by having a conversation with your spouse about parenting styles. 

Make sure you know what type of parent you are and what type of parent you want to be.  Remember, you do not need to agree on how you would like to parent, but you do need to respect one another and create common parenting techniques that work well for both parents.

2. Try to create new ideas for your parenting styles. 

Make a list of subject areas where being more authoritarian is okay like chores, school work, and household behavior.  Also, think of the subject areas where being permissive would be okay like inviting more conversation about relationships and emotional needs instead of shutting down your child’s feelings.  

3.  Agree to speak with one another when your child asks you for something. 

Work together as a team.  Be mindful of one another when making decisions and work hard to stick together  using mindful parenting. 

Over time, your children will begin seeing you and your spouse as a team and a unit that is hard to break.  They will also recognize the increase in respect between you and your spouse and will begin changing their behavior or requests because of your solidarity. 

 

Written by: Kristie L. Watts, LMFTA

Kristie is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Associate at Groff and Associates Counseling.  Her passions are parent/child relationships, adolescent females, and grief and loss.   If you are interested in seeing a counselor and think that Kristie would be a good fit, please contact her at kristie@groffandassociates.com.   

 

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NzE6Imh0dHA6Ly9ncm9mZmFuZGFzc29jaWF0ZXMuY29tL3dwLWNvbnRlbnQvd29vX3VwbG9hZHMvMy1ncm9mZl9oZWFkZXIucG5nIjt9PC9saT48L3VsPg==