Many couples get along famously in their courtship and early marriage, but suddenly find themselves hitting a brick wall when a child is born. As it turns out they did have at least one area where there are major disagreements, and that’s in parenting. And it can be devastating.
All of us have very deep parenting beliefs about how children should be raised. For example, some believe that children need lots of discipline, control and discipline and others that children need to learn from experimentation and self-regulation.
Where Do Our Parenting Beliefs Come From?
We form our beliefs about parenting based on many influences, including the model of our parents, religious messages, observations of others, the media and our own private conclusions.
“The Truth” About Parenting and Children
By the time we are adults we have built a strong set of beliefs about parenting and children. It is usually so strong that it seems like The Truth, the one and only Truth. It just feels like the “natural way to think.”
Then Along Comes Mary, or Joe
Then along comes this person you love, and you can’t wait to have children. You just assume things will be great. That’s because you both know what “The Truth” is and how could someone have a different opinion, especially someone you love? Doesn’t always turn out like that!
When there’s major disagreement on parenting, it can cut the marriage apart very quickly and even permanently. It can feel like a total betrayal. Here is this person I agree with and love and now they have a different view on something so important as parenting?
How to Save the Marriage When You Disagree About Parenting
If you find yourself in the distressing and potentially marriage ending position of having fundamental disagreements about parenting your children, I have two things to say. First, it doesn’t have to be the end, and second you need to act fast and act now to head off further problems.
This problem will not go away by itself!
Four Steps to Save The Marriage
You must take four steps to save the marriage right now. I call those steps “LOVE,” which is an acronym. “L” is for like; “O” is for openness; “V” is for value; and “E” is for encourage.
The first thing to do immediately is to learn how to like your partner’s parenting beliefs and actions.
You may not fully 100% agree with them, but you do need to find some things about them to genuinely like. Take out pencil and paper and write down 10 things you can honestly say you like about your partner’s parenting beliefs and style.
Make it real, not phony. This is the most important step!
As hard as it might be to accept, you do not have “The Truth” about parenting or child rearing. You have some important views and much to offer, but what you believe is not the one and only Truth. If you insist on believing that, you and your partner are never going to see eye to eye, as long as he or she is true to what he or she believes is Truth.
Make a list of the parenting beliefs and actions (such as around discipline) that you are willing to be flexible about. List 10 things that you need to be willing to accept that your partner believes. This will go a long way to creating a positive agreement between you.
If you really believe in your parenting approach, find ways to help your partner see the value. Don’t argue about what you do, just quietly and honestly contribute actions which show the value of your beliefs and that don’t aggressively challenge your partner.
What can you do that will help bring positive and valuable results in raising your children, but that won’t attack your partner? Make a list of 10 actions and then begin to gently but firmly try them out. Remember, they may or may not be helpful, so fall back to Step 2, Be Open.