Parenting can be tough if you and your partner are not on the same page. You might think they’re too hard on the kids... or too lenient. You might hate being the bad cop all the time. Or you might find yourself siding with the children against the other parent because you just don’t agree with how they’ve handled something.
Children, especially adolescents, appear to love this chasm opening between you and they soon learn who to approach to get a "yes".
But in reality, they would rather have a unified approach (at least on the surface) because then they know where the boundaries are, and boundaries feel safe.
Watch: The Mamamia team share the things they've been keeping from their partners. Post continues after video.
Why do we expect to parent the same way as our partner? We are two individuals with our own families of origin. Most of us love some things about our own childhoods, and we want to carry on the traditions. But there are other elements of our upbringing that we are determined not to replicate when we have children.
So what happens when these two individuals with their own backgrounds try to create a new parenting recipe? Some couples stumble and fall but get back up again, while others fight non-stop.
If you keep having the same arguments over how to parent the kids, stop and ask yourselves: Have we worked out our parenting recipe? Have we agreed on how to manage normal child and adolescent behaviour? Have we even talked about it?
If you haven’t discussed your families of origin and how you were parented, you’ll be amazed by how much your understanding of each other grows once you start to delve into this subject. Countless conversations need to happen over many years as the kids grow up. Being on the same page is impossible without these chats behind the scenes.
And the page you’re both trying to be on is a very large page – definitely A2 or bigger. That’s because we don’t have to agree on absolutely everything.
Many adult children tell me that they loved and respected both parents (and stepparents) irrespective of how strict they were. It’s just not the case that kids love the good cop more than the bad cop. But they do know who’s who and that’s okay.
Real problems arise if you’re not just unhappy with how your partner parents, but when you’re really worried about the kids because of how your partner is parenting. You might be concerned about a child’s safety because they are being given too much freedom and they are making some bad decisions. You might be troubled by how withdrawn a child has become because they seem afraid to upset your partner. You might be worried about their education or their health because your partner doesn’t back you up when you’re encouraging study or a healthy lifestyle. Or you might think the children are feeling too much pressure because there is too much talk of study and healthy living.