The Importance of Being on the Same Page with Parenting

Does this sound familiar? Your child disobeys in some way or asks for something he knows he is not allowed to have. You correct him or refuse his request. Then your husband or wife comes along and reverses it! Sometimes unknowingly, but not always.

It can be infuriating. You may feel as though you are being undermined or that the kids are playing you off each other – and they will! You may feel like you have no say. This is bound to happen from time to time; however, if parents continually disagree and overrule each other, no one wins.

Parents will find better success when they present a unified front. It is best for the whole family when they are on the same page and make the commitment to agree in public and disagree in private. Why? One reason I just touched on – because it causes a lot of stress, anger, and hurt feelings when your co-parent essentially ignores your authority with your children. I use that word deliberately – co-parent – because being on the same page is important whether you are married to your child’s other parent or divorced. In fact, divorced parents may need to work even harder to stay on the same page to avoid blow-ups that can alienate you from each other and your children.

However, it is not just about getting along with your co-parent. If you are not able to present a unified front about what is acceptable and allowed, it can negatively impact your children’s upbringing and behavior. They become confused about what the rules really are. They live without clear boundaries.

When kids grow up in this kind of atmosphere, it tends to lead to rebellion. They learn that rules are not real and can be overturned at any point. They become confused as to which rules they should follow and which ones do not matter. Rebellious kids tend to act out in school. They may even become more likely to break the law, experiment with drugs, or engage in other behaviors that are not safe.

To help you discover effective ways to invest your time and effort to the noble task of getting on the same page about parenting, here are 3 excellent tips for managing disagreements:

  1. Always provide backup. You will not always agree with every disciplinary decision your co-parent makes. However, unless you are concerned about abuse or neglect, you should always back him up in the moment. Remember, if you do not, it undermines the authority of both of you, leading your child to recognize that this is a way to get around parenting decisions. Instead, wait until your children are out of earshot, and then calmly talk about your opinion on how it could have been handled differently.
  2. Discuss your goals. Do not just share the rules and limitations you believe should be enforced. Explain why you think they are important. Be very clear about what you are trying to teach, and how both of you can help your child overcome any issues. Discuss how you are trying to make it easier to manage the household. Understanding your reasons can serve to bring your spouse on board with your thinking and opens the lines of communication, so that he or she will feel comfortable to help brainstorm more ways to reach your goals.
  3. Really listen to one another. Remember, your goal is not to win the argument. Your ultimate goal as co-parents is to do what is best for your children. So stop. Take a deep breath. And focus on what your co-parent has to say. You may not agree with every detail. Still, there is often something you can learn from his perspective. Find one commonality that you, as co-parents, can build on.

Getting and staying on the same page may not seem easy at first; however, for the sake of your children, it is vital that you both work hard to do it. Sit down and talk through the rules you want to implement, the beliefs each of you have, and seek ways to compromise on disagreements that arise. If you are struggling, consider seeking the help of a coach or mediator. Remember, it does not matter how you stay on the same page – it just matters that you work together to make it happen. Your children are worth it.

The Author