Parenting brings a whole new range of challenges to a marriage that weren’t there before kids came along, and you won’t always see eye to eye.
Each parent has well established beliefs about how children should behave, how they should be treated, and what it means to be a good parent.
A lot of this is informed by your own history – the example you had from your own parents.
Your parenting is also influenced by your belief system, personality, and problem solving approach.
So here you have two very different people needing to work together as a team, and sometimes getting onto the same page can be a real struggle.
Related: How Your Past Affects Your Parenting
So how do you get to the point where you see eye to eye and agree on how to parent your kids?
Getting unity as parents begins with realising you don’t have it, really wanting it, and being intentional about getting it.
Here are some points to consider:
It is God’s wish for us to be one. John 17:21 tells us, “That they all may be one; as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in us…”
The secret to unity is being IN Christ. Submitted to Him. Being willing to let go of your own ideas and seeking God’s ideas about parenting.
This means being willing to say, “Not my will, but Thine be done”. It requires a forsaking of your own way and finding a new way by seeking God’s will for your family.
As you surrender your thinking, history, and weaknesses to God, your thoughts will come into harmony with Him. If both parents are doing this, a natural harmony will follow.
An important part of finding unity as parents is knowing yourself. And knowing yourself as a parent means figuring out your parenting style.
There are three styles of parenting:
Recognising your parenting style will help you see where you need to change and adapt.
Another part of knowing yourself is recognising what your problem solving methods are. Do you tackle problems head on and push through until you’ve solved them or do you leave them and hope they’ll come right on their own? You’ll face many challenges together as parents and your problem solving techniques could create conflict between you.
In the middle of a parenting challenge, most people tend to focus on getting their partner to think like they do.
However, it’s far more productive to work on changing yourself.
Examine your beliefs, principles, and values. Where do they come from? How were they formed? Are they in harmony with God’s parenting plan found in the Bible?
Explore your own history and how it has affected your parenting ideas. Allow God to work in your own life otherwise you’ll be parenting by triggers – doing the opposite of what was done to you, which may not be the right thing.
Be willing to adapt and change.
Without communication you will never see eye to eye. Choose a time when you are both feeling calm and receptive (not when you’re in the middle of trying to wrestle your child into their car seat), and talk about the issues you are facing.
State the problem as you’ve observed it and ask for your spouse’s opinion on it. Don’t accuse. Focus on the situation. If you don’t agree with how your spouse is handling the situation then use “I” statements,
“I feel that you are letting Sam get away with disobedience. I think we need to be for firm and decided.”
Be willing to revisit this conversation as many times as necessary.
Make a regular time to talk and do a parenting audit. During this time, plan ahead for the goals you’d like to reach as parents.
Keep the family machine oiled and running well by regularly communicating about your kids, issues that have come up, or things you need to anticipate or plan for.
Related: Is your Communication up to Scratch?
Make it a rule to never argue in front of your kids. Discuss any disagreements behind closed doors, away from your children’s ears. If they detect disunity between you, they will quickly figure out which parent they can manipulate to get their way.
Children want less parent conflict more than they want better parenting decisions. Disagreements and arguing will do more harm in the long run than the odd wrong parenting decision.
This article suggests that “Inter-parental conflict is ultimately harmful to your child. It causes anxiety, depression, interferes with both physical and psychological development and may affect their school performance. A good rule of thumb is to avoid fighting as long as your child is within 500 feet of your argument.”
Good parenting requires a healthy relationship between the parents. Don’t allow couple issues to interfere with parenting issues. What you have in your relationship will trickle down to your kids.
Your relationship as a couple is the primary relationship. Make sure you are nurturing it. Any issues between you will impact your unity as parents.
Continually check on your unity. Once a month review and refine your unity pact.
If you are not spending time with God your parenting will be compromised because you are not going to the source of wisdom.
Time with God not only gives wisdom, but it subdues natural tendencies and inclinations which lead to bad parenting decisions.
Feel free to study parenting issues during your quiet time with God. Go to God for the wisdom you need and the infilling of His Holy Spirit.
One caveat: Seeking unity does not mean giving up your convictions or submitting to abuse. If your spouse is harming you or your children in any way – emotionally, physically, or spiritually, then do what you need to do to keep yourself and your children safe.
Seeing eye to eye as parents is a source of tension for many families (I’d venture to say that almost every couple finds this challenging), but it is not a problem that can’t be overcome through intentionality and work.
It’s common sense that unity makes for better parenting, but it’s also God’s expectation of parents:
“That they all may be one…” John 17:21
Do you and your spouse see eye to eye on parenting? What areas need work?