How to Argue with Your Spouse about Parenting
Why you should always back your spouse and not argue in front of the kids.
All spouses disagree at times – especially when there are children in the family.
Your daughter wants to go to the mall with her friends. She really wants to go. But your spouse says she can’t go because she came in ten minutes past curfew last night. You think that’s callous.
Or maybe it’s just the opposite. Your spouse caved in, ignored the consequence, and told her she could go. You think that’s spineless.
How do you argue your point?
Since you both want what’s best for your child, there are a few ideas to remember before you start to discuss anything related to parenting with your spouse.
Not in Front of the Kids
One of the few ironclad rules in parenting. Nothing will be gained when arguing in front of children.
Children need their parents to provide them with security. They feel secure when their mother and father work together as a team, as one unit. When they see their parents bicker, they feel insecure.
Don’t do this to your children. Most decisions can wait. Tell your daughter that you’ll have to think about her trip to the mall. Go to a different room and discuss the issue.
Back Up Your Spouse
If your spouse already told your daughter that she can (or can’t) go to the mall, you swallow hard, bite your tongue and don’t say anything.
Always back up your spouse, even if you don’t agree with their decision. In the big picture, whether or not your daughter goes to the mall won’t make a difference in her life. But watching her parents disagree will negatively affect your daughter’s emotional well-being and can have long term consequences. Act like a unified team.
Of course, once your daughter leaves the scene, you are free to talk with your spouse about what rules you expect your daughter to follow and what should be your policy if she doesn’t follow them.
Respect and Compromise
Now that you’re alone, you and your spouse are ready to discuss parenting.
Conversations about parenting should follow the same rules as all spousal conversations. You must be respectful and expect to compromise.
Don’t blame or lay the guilt. It’s not your spouse’s fault that your child was punished in school, didn’t follow home rules or pierced his/her tongue.
Respectful conversation focuses on practical plans for the future: What are we going to do now? What punishment or rewards should we give our kids? What rules do we need to implement? What will we do to strengthen our relationship with our children?
Remember that compromise is inevitable and important. No matter how wonderful your marriage, you and your spouse grew up differently and have diverse views. One tends to be stricter, and one tends to be looser. You need to think of a policy that both of you agree upon.
One spouse thinks that your daughter should be able to go to the mall the other thinks you shouldn’t let her go. Maybe you can let her go this time with a warning? Tell her you noticed she was a few minutes late for curfew yesterday and that you won’t overlook another such infraction again. Or, maybe you won’t let her go to the mall, but will allow her to invite friends over.
Ultimately this decision is not going to make such a big difference in your child’s life. What will make a difference is the fact that you and your spouse present as a united team and that you model respectful and caring behavior.