Brad from One Flesh Marriage shares on a topic we all can relate to I am sure--what do we do when we disagree with the way our spouse is parenting our children? It is always good to hear the voice of an adoptive father!
Any time you bring two people together there are going to be differences in how you parent kids. You talk to them differently, you play with them differently, and you will correct and discipline them differently. It is in this last area that conflicts between couples usually start to creep in.
When we see our spouse disciplining the kids in a way that we wouldn’t, it is very easy to step in and want to take over. Sometimes that might even be appropriate, but first you need to stop and ask yourself a few questions.
1. What do you Know to be True?
Is your spouse a good parent? Would you normally say they are a good dad? Or a good mom? If you genuinely believe that they are a good parent, then you need to really pause before jumping in and taking over disciplining. Remember this truth and ask yourself the next question.
2. Is your Spouse in Control?
Are they making rational decisions that they will agree with when the heat of the moment passes? I vividly remember a moment of clarity while holding my screaming son--that all of the shaken baby warning commercials suddenly made since. I gently laid him in the crib and told my wife I needed a break. We all reach that point, and it is important to play tag team before we get there. However, if your spouse is in control, but doing something you would do differently, then hang on and ask yourself the next question before doing anything else.
3. Why do you Want to Jump in?
If you want to fix the problem, stop the child’s behavior, minimize the damage or avoid an argument then you need to wait. That is exactly what your spouse is trying to do. That is what discipline is all about anyway, so let your spouse do their thing. Yes, it might not be how you would do it, but it is much better to allow them to continue then to jump in.
If on the other hand, you want to support your spouse, you can stand next to them, and find specific ways you can support them and show your children that you are on the same team.
But What if I REALLY Didn’t Like it?
What do you do if you answered all three questions and recognized you had to wait but you really had a problem with how your spouse was disciplining the children? In this situation you need to find a time to talk about your concerns later, when the children are not in the room to hear your discussion. You can plan on what methods you are going to use, and what you are not going to use. The heat of the moment is not the time to talk about your methods. You can plan what you do and don’t do later.
But before you go imposing your way, remember, kids are naturally very adaptable. They understand that things change based on different environments and different care givers. Even at a very young age they will know that a behavior that is ok in your family room is not appropriate in Grandma’s living room. They are ok if you and your spouse parent and discipline somewhat differently. Should the rules totally change? No, consistency is best as much as possible, but how those rules are carried out will vary from parent to parent-- and that is ok!
What have you done to help you and your spouse get on the same page about discipline? How has it worked in your house? Let us know in the comments!