Do you and your husband always get along? Be honest!
I know because as much as my husband and I love each other, we can butt heads when it comes to parenting together. The thing is that parenting teamwork skills aren’t something that automatically comes to you just because you have a child together.
You have to work together to become partners in parenting. This is just as true whether you’re happily married, separated but living together, or even apart from your husband or boyfriend.
The team method of parenting involves forming a united front. This isn’t supposed to be an “us vs. them” mentality. But rather, it means that despite any differences you have, you join forces as the adults in the family to give your children the best possible upbringing.
When parents disagree on how to raise a child, it can confuse your children. One parent may say it’s ok for that child to have a snack before dinner, while the other says no. If you’re fighting with your husband over parenting, this post is most certainly for you.
You’ll want to avoid fighting in front of your kids and one-sided parenting, where it seems only one partner is involved. If you both love your kids, even if you no longer love each other or you’re co-parenting and living together with someone new, it’s essential to come together to be a part of team parenting.
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Why is it important to parent as a team?
There is one thing that always makes a child feel safe and secure. That thing is a routine. Having routines and rules set lets your children know what to expect in any situation.
When they come home from school and do homework right away, that’s a routine. Just like brushing teeth, bathing, and going to bed at night. Routine.
Relevant: An example of a baby’s morning routine.
Parenting partnerships create routine too. When you work together with your spouse or co-parent with someone else, your children feel safe and secure. They learn from you how to communicate respectfully.
So if you’re always yelling at your husband or boyfriend about how they’re doing things (or if they’re always yelling at you), it creates a scary and unstable environment for your children.
I sincerely doubt that’s what any of you wants. And no, I’m not talking about the occasional argument the kids may stumble into. I’m talking about daily arguing and not being on the same page.
When you can cast aside differences and agree on how to parent as a team, it shows your children how to communicate properly, even when there are differences of opinion. Right now, if you look at any form of social media, you’re bound to see people with differences of opinion.
Most of those people have no earthly clue how to communicate appropriately with someone of a different opinion. That I’m-right-you’re-wrong mentality is not the message we want to send to our children.
As I’m always honest with you all, I have to admit that I hate my husband’s parenting style. Keep in mind; we come from very different cultures and backgrounds. But we have to focus on team parenting.
So, sometimes when he makes a decision, and I think it’s stupid, I keep my mouth shut. As long as it’s not unsafe for the kids, I will not shoot it down. However, I will pull him aside and tell him when I think something isn’t a good idea so we can discuss it and then share our teamed-up thoughts with the kids.
When we work together as a team, the kids are happier. And my husband and I are too. Even if you’re no longer with your spouse and raising the kids together or you’re trying to blend a family, those parenting partnerships all must be forged.
Because even if you can’t agree on a single thing together, I bet there is one thing you both can agree on – you love your children. If you have that in common, you can parent as a team successfully no matter your differences.
What happens when one parent undermines the other?
I know it can be frustrating sometimes. I’ve undermined my husband, and he’s undermined me. When we realized this was happening, we had a pow-wow when the girls were sound asleep to remedy the situation.
It often happens to my friends that are divorced that co-parent too. You may tell your child they can’t have that snack because dinner will be served soon. Meanwhile, your spouse may say, “Sure, go ahead! Have a cookie!” Even though you just told them “no.”
It seems innocent, right?
But it’s not. And it’s usually not malicious when one parent undermines the other.
A living example of this was when I told my kids it was time to get ready for bed. It was the weekend, though, so my husband said, “No, you can stay up for 30 more minutes.”
I was livid.
The girls meanwhile cheered and ran upstairs, running all over creation. All I wanted was to sit and enjoy a cocktail and watch a movie with my husband.
So, while they were occupied, I told him why that was a bad idea. At first, he thought I was annoyed they were staying up late. Well, I was annoyed by that!
But! I was more annoyed that he undermined the rules and basically told the girls what I said didn’t matter by letting them stay up.
As I explained this to him, he realized that kids learn how to be manipulative by pitting one parent against the other. If your dad always says “yes,” but mom always says “no,” which one are you going to ask for permission to do something?
Now you see where I’m going with this. It might be a snack or an extension of time before going to bed, but when one parent undermines the other, it teaches your children that they can manipulate either of you based on what they want.
And when they’re little, that’s usually not very devious stuff. But when they become tweens and teens and onward, it’s everything.
How to unite as a team for the sake of parenting
You may be the most loved-up, the cutest couple on the planet. Or you may be divorced and delighted to have that relationship behind you. But if you have children together, no matter how strong your relationship is with the person you made these children, you must come together as a parenting team.
You will disagree with each other, and that’s ok. There are so many decisions to be made and so many ways to play those decisions because there is no one right way to do things.
Respecting each other’s ideas, even if you don’t agree with those ideas, is the first thing I want you to try to do together. Just don’t be critical of an idea you dislike. You can shout it in your head, “This sucks. Is this guy a total moron or what?!?” But outwardly, you need to keep calm and explain why you disagree with it without tearing them to shreds.
Here are some more parenting tips to help you form that parenting partnership, no matter your relationship status as a couple…
Choose your battles
Think to yourself whether or not this is the hill you want to die on. Is it worth the fight if your husband dresses the baby in mismatched clothing? Or is it better that your child is sufficiently bundled up for the cold weather outside?
Now, when it comes to safety and health, speak up. But in this example, since your child is dressed well for cold weather, the way the outfit appears isn’t the end of the world. It would have been worse and reckless for your husband to dress your baby in a sundress for winter, wouldn’t it?
What if your husband doesn’t buckle your children into the seatbelts when he drives them to school or soccer practice? That’s definitely something to address immediately.
So, for matters of parenting style, as long as it isn’t harmful to your children, let it go.
Listen to listen
It is such a hard habit to break, but we all have been guilty of listening just to respond. We must shift our focuses and listen to listen. You need to really hear your partner’s side of things.
One of my friends, Lisa, just had her 3rd baby with her husband. They have been bickering because she’s with the kids all day and needs rest. They had agreed that he would do the nighttime feedings to give her a break, allowing her to get enough rest so she could fully wrangle all three of them from dawn until dusk.
But when it came time for her husband Mark’s turn to take over, he shirked his responsibility. I urged her to keep calm and approach Mark once she was, and he explained he’d had a rough day at work and was exhausted.
She told him she was exhausted too. They decided for both of them to get some help around the house to free them both up. Now they’re much happier because they came together on a decision and listened with love to one another.
Let your partner shine
Even when things are great in your relationship with your partner, you may have completely different parenting styles. This is ok! It’s lovely for your children to be exposed to different types of things as long as it’s safe.
For example, if it’s your husband’s turn to watch over the children and he takes a less active role in playing but is present and supervising, chill out. Or he could be fully childlike and get on the floor and play with the blocks and toy cars.
It doesn’t matter as long as the kids are safe. Now, if he’s giving a baby something that is a choking hazard, that’s a different story, one you’ll need to discuss with him promptly.
Don’t be afraid to make a fresh start
And if right now, you two can’t seem to see eye to eye on anything, agree to rewrite the rules and routines together. Share your perspectives and create new traditions and ways of doing things. When you map it out together, even when you have differences, you get on the same parenting page, and that’s the right way to keep moving forward into the next chapter of parenthood together.
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, exercise, and jamming out on her Fender.