This is a common problem that I see between couples who are friends of mine. It may actually be a more common problem than I even realize. Mothers are often the more emotional support in a child’s life, where fathers are often seen as stricter and authoritative. Of course, this is a pretty broad brush to be using, since there are always exceptions, but the fact remains that it’s a really tough situation to be in when you and your spouse have different parenting styles.
The first and best way to address this sort of issue is to engage in some serious conversation between the two of you, preferably not in the heat of a confrontation in front of your child. Many couples who do this bring a list of reasons for their style, as well as their concerns for the differing style displayed by his or her spouse. The thing to remember the most is that this isn’t a scorecard. This isn’t about who is “right” and who is “wrong”. The main focus should always be on what is best for your child.
Granted, the two of you may differ on what you each think is best for your child. This may be the very heart of the issue. In order to get on the same page, it will take some hard work from both of you. You may be dead-set on your way being the “right” way, but give a little room to really listen and look outside of your beliefs to see if there is something valid to your spouse’s position. The least it will cost you is a bit of time and energy. The most it could cost you is a shift in your beliefs. Either way, it’s worth putting forth that effort.
Let’s say that, after some intense and thorough discussion, the two of you still can’t come to terms on which one way the two of you agree to do together. This is a time to look into a compromise. There is almost always a middle ground somewhere. Both of you may have to give a little to get a little, so lay it all on the table and negotiate. This path may lead to a balance you’ve been seeking the entire time, not to mention finally working together instead of against each other.
Regardless of the reasons, this is rarely an easy fix. Sadly, some couples do find this to be a make-or-break issue on their marriage. If it comes to that, at least you’ll have a court-appointed moderator to help the two of you work out some sort of negotiation. But, here’s to hoping that there’s no need to get the sharks involved. Find the middle ground, work for the solution that is best for your child instead of your own individual needs, and remember that the love you both have for your child is what needs to always shine through on any decision the two of you make in every situation.
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