by Rebeca Jones
Last month I wrote about the foundation for parenting well. The post was titled, Who Comes First?, and if you missed it, please go back a check it out as it sets the groundwork for what we are discussing today. Today’s topic, parenting as a team, will be impossible if you haven’t first established that you and your husband are a team. Go ahead, I’ll grab a cup of coffee and I’ll wait for you…
Great! So to recap the main points: You and your husband became a family the moment you said ‘I do’, and your marriage relationship needs to take priority over all other earthly relationships. This is the genesis of Team Us, and from that shared vantage point you and your husband can enjoy your children and raise them up together.
Building Team Us
In order to truly parent in tandem, you and your husband must be on the same page. Discuss your ideas about parenting during times of non-conflict. Don’t wait for differences, and perhaps arguments, to crop up before you share your thoughts on discipline, bed sharing, diet, or education. Think about what areas are important to you, listen to what is important to him, and find common ground on how you want this parenting thing to look like. Don’t insist on having it all your way!
Understand each others’ strengths and weaknesses. For example, I am terribly impatient with outbursts of emotion. While the Lord and I are working on that, my husband takes point in situations where one of the kids is emotionally melting down. In the social arena, my husband would happily live the remainder of his days on a deserted island with no one but the kids and I for company, so it’s up to me to schedule social events and activities. We have learned to work within our strengths, and to step up and cover the others’ weaknesses. We jokingly say that, together we make a whole, functional human being.
You and your husband will be bringing different temperaments and experiences to the table. Find a give and take that works for both of you to create a playbook that is unique for your family’s team. I cannot stress this enough. You need to find your common parenting ground. Without it, you will find yourself at odds with the most important person in your life, and your kids will suffer for it.
My husband and I are far from perfect parents, but we are strong as a team and it has served us well over the years. In discussing what has worked to smooth the parenting journey for us, we identified a few things that any team can implement.
1.) Never undermine your spouse in front of the kids. If you disagree with the way they are doing something, wait until a time of non-conflict and discuss it privately. Presenting a united front to the kids is priority.
2.) Don’t play good cop, bad cop. My husband and I established a rule that whoever meted out discipline in a given situation also had to be the one to offer comfort and love when the punishment was over. Afterward, the other parent could discuss the situation with the child, offering a new voice to the situation, yet retaining the united front. Don’t allow one parent to be perceived as the hard one, or the soft one. Display equality in your authority.
3.) Playing sides. Have you ever said no to your child, only to have them go behind your back to ask your husband the same question and get a yes? All of our kids tried that tactic. Once. We made it very clear that if they tried to work both sides, not only would the answer automatically be no, but they would be in big trouble to boot. It only took one time for them to realize playing mommy and daddy against each other would never have a pleasing outcome!
4.) Pick your battle, and draw up a plan. Parenting can be overwhelming. There are so many issues to address, and training our little monkeys to be polite, responsible, productive members of society is a daunting task indeed. My husband and I found that deliberately choosing a single concern to battle, making a game plan, and hammering that one issue for two weeks, worked almost every single time. For example, when we chose whining as our battle, we first determined what whining was. (Don’t assume everyone’s definition of whining is the same.) We then let our child know by example what whining sounded like and that it would no longer be tolerated. For the next couple of weeks, if whining occurred, we would both respond to it in the exact same way. This solved most of our everyday behavioral problems.
5.) Pray together. Now, I must confess the hypocrite alarm is deafening right now. My husband and I have failed at this. I don’t know if it’s just our insanely introverted personalities, or if we’re just lazy, but we have never gotten our groove on in praying together. If this is difficult for you, at least agree to be praying privately on the same matters. Prayer is the best tool we have, yet many of us use it as a last resort. Shame on us! Let us purpose to spend time with the Creator of our children, seeking his will on their behalf. It’s foolishness to think we can figure this out on our own, yes?
Father God, thank you for giving me this partner in parenting. Help me to continue to grow as a team player, for the strengthening of my marriage as well as for the good of my children. Give us wisdom as we need it, and may we always come to you with all of our cares and concerns. Thank you for the great privilege of being a mommy! Amen.
**Your turn! What team strategies have worked for you? What areas of parenting do you struggle with being unified on?
Rebeca Jones would like to connect with you!
few of my favorite posts from my blog, Building Standing Stones:
On our true identity:
Come on over and visit me at Building Standing Stones. Hope to see you there!