Given how hard it is, is it really THAT important that you agree?
Disagreements can cause conflict between parents and confusion in children. They also give kids an opportunity to play parents off one another. This further inflames the situation and often results in inconsistent parenting policies.
If you find yourself having major differences of opinion with the people who are involved in raising your children, then the following tip will be useful.
In important matters, find ways to work together as a team.
Here are some guidelines for creating a good parenting partnership:
Set aside a regular time to talk about your goals, any concerns you have, and any new approaches you would like to try.
Remember to use healthy communication skills – listen respectfully and express your views without blaming or criticizing the other person.
Aim to agree on the bigger issues that reflect basic values, such as your general approach to discipline, your views about education, or the way people in your family are expected to treat one another.
Work towards a compromise that all are comfortable with, even if total agreement is not possible.
You can agree to disagree on smaller issues.
Let’s say you want to start paying your children for doing household chores and you aren’t sure that your parenting partner is on board:
Explain to your partner why you think this is important and what will be involved in starting it.
Ask for and listen to reactions so that you understand your co-parent’s point of view.
If there is strong disagreement, try to find a compromise. For example, your kids will still need to do certain chores for “free” as part of being a household member (maybe clearing dishes from the table). Only those tasks that are “over and above” will be paid for (such as cleaning out the pantry).
If your partner does not want to be involved but is not opposed to the plan, ask for support. Have your co-parent communicate to the children the importance of doing chores so that your efforts are not undermined.
Parents do not have to agree on every small decision regarding their children. Kids benefit by learning flexibility. As they see that different people do things differently, they will adjust. There may be “mommy’s way” and “daddy’s way” and “grandma’s way” . . .
However, on the bigger issues, having a “unified front” is the best way to teach the values you want to pass on to your children.