“I feel like I’m a bad mom.” That’s what one of my friends said to me recently over the phone. I could hear the sorrow in her voice and sense that she had tears spilling out of her eyes. “I feel like a failure as a wife and mother,” she’d said. Then the crying became uncontrollable, and I told her I’d be right over.
She’s not the first one who has told me my husband criticizes my parenting or even my boyfriend criticizes my parenting skills.
If you are not harming your children, they are fed, and they are being looked after, you’re not a bad mom!
So, why do husbands and boyfriends, too, act like such jerks?
It’s only natural for us to disagree at certain points. Were you on the same page before you had kids? Was everything fine before, and now he’s suddenly changed? You’ll have to delve into these questions since each relationship is different.
I will say this…if your husband or boyfriend has suddenly changed, you need to find out why. But if you and your partner have never discussed the topic of parenting, it’s time to get on the same page. Here’s how!
Tips for Putting Aside Your Parenting Differences
Your partner should never call you a bad mom if you care for your children, feed them, and love them. These tips will help sort out your differences.
Talk to each other
Regardless of how this started, it’s important to sit down and talk to one another. Did something change in either of your parenting philosophies? Did you never talk about how to raise your kids?
That’s ok because you can talk about it now. I suggest discussing how you each were raised. Talk about what you liked about it and what you disliked, and let him have the chance to explain his upbringing.
You will likely not agree on everything, but you can work together to compromise and make the best choices together.
Establish rules you both agree with
Children need routine and discipline to thrive in life. You can’t just tell them to be good or else. That ambiguity sets everyone up for failure.
Here, you should each list what you think are specific and proper rules for your children. Be honest with each other without being cruel. Decide which ones are most important and merge them into one list. Then you will share this list as a united front with your children.
Accepting their input after you and your spouse have agreed upon the rules is an excellent idea for older children. It will prove more accepting than simply laying down your version of the 10 Commandments.
Decide on consequences
Does your husband make you feel like a bad mother because you don’t follow through with the consequences? Or are your consequences too harsh? Whatever the case, just like you did with setting the rules together, discuss what you both think is fair as a consequence of breaking those rules.
When your parenting styles are completely opposite, this may be more challenging to do. You may be the kind that prefers to talk about mistakes with your kids, while your husband may want to enact stricter measures. Discuss a way to meet in the middle here for the sake of your kids. Once you agree, put those consequences in writing as you did with the rules to avoid confusion in the family.
Learn to have each other’s back
Now you’ve been through the most challenging part – getting on the same page. You’ve written things down and discussed what you could agree with. Now you must parent as a team. You both need to stick to your plan and back each other up. If you don’t, you are basically showing the kids they can manipulate each of you to get their way.
Never disagree when the kids are there
If you want your kids to grow up in a harmonious home and have the best start, don’t disagree with your spouse when deciding between parenting in front of your children. The only exception to this is if some form of abuse occurs.
Barring that, you each need to let your children know that you are on the same page and agree with each other’s actions. You can discuss with your spouse privately what you disagree with and tackle that together as a team, so if it arises again, you’ll be in stronger harmony.
Learn to reassess and change the rules in time
Now, if you set rules and consequences together as a team when the children were small, that’s wonderful. But toddlers and teens have different needs as they grow. As such, you and your partner should be reassessing these rules and make adjustments together as needed.
One size fits all forever never works. So as your child goes through elementary school and heads to middle school, sit down with each other and discuss these things. Change any rules that don’t apply and update with new ones. Make sure you agree here, then sit your child down to see if they have anything to add.
One Last Thing About Parenting Differences
Unless your husband or boyfriend is abusive, remember that everyone makes mistakes and deserves a second chance. You’re not a bad mom, and he’s probably not a bad dad. But if you’re not working together, it can probably seem like one of you is bad.
Even with rules, though, we all make mistakes. We yell. We say the wrong thing. It’s ok. This is how we learn and grow.
Talk to your partner about things in private. If need be, go to a counselor together to have someone mediate and help you get on the same page.
Parenting style differences can cause a lot of strife in relationships. The important thing is finding a way to compromise and support one another. Forgive each other and walk hand-in-hand toward that shared goal of raising happy, healthy, and successful children together.
Ignoring it will be a disaster. I know it’s not always easy to have these conversations, but they are essential for the sake of your children. What they see and how you treat each other will stay with them forever. When you show them how you two work together despite differences, it will show them how to be effective communicators and work with someone with different ideas.
It will take some practice, but if you work with your spouse on parenting strategies, the whole family will feel happier.
Leslie Berry lives with her husband and two young daughters in Los Altos, California, where she loves helping other moms get comfortable with motherhood and embracing the insanity with facts peppered with laughs.
She loves eating too much sushi, exercising, and jamming out on her Fender. Read more about Leslie here.