The top four reasons existing marriages most commonly end are:
1) poor communication,
2) financial issues,
3) parenting conflicts, and
This is the third part of a four-part series addressing these common marital issues. Whereas Part One addressed communication, and Part Two dealt with financial stresses, this installation focuses on parenting conflicts. Differences in parenting styles and philosophies can be a source of marital strife. Having a difficult or challenging child either medically, educationally, or behaviorally can also accentuate different parenting approaches creating frequent conflicts and mutual hostility.
Arguing over parent-child interactions and different parenting approaches can be a circuitous issue. That is, your child may be acting out as a reaction to your true marital problems, causing you to
argue over how to handle him or her. Or, your different parenting approaches can be causing your child to act out. Either way, it is important that you are on the same page in terms of what you
expect from your child and what the consequences are when he or she misbehaves.
It is not just inappropriate behavior that causes parents to argue, it can be differences in the morals and values you each are imposing, or the amount of time, and attention each of you are giving your child.
If you find yourself experiencing parenting conflicts with one another, or are becoming angry and disgusted with the way your partner interacts with your children, you must address the issue head on before it evolves into more significant marital issues.
Here are some suggestions:
• Initiate a discussion with your partner at a time when you are not experiencing a conflict.
• Remind each other that you are on the same “team” when it comes to raising your children to be happy and healthy adults.
• Each of you make a list of your expectations for each child. It may be a different list for each of your children. Expectations should encompass, behavior in specific situations (meals, screens, bedtime, family involvement, general behavior, etc), performance (academic, athletic, drama/creativity), and any other situations your child is involved in.
• Compare your lists and determine where your differences are. Discuss and negotiate to find a common ground for what you expect from your child.
• Identify common, repeated mis-behaviors your child exhibits. Decide together on consistent consequences for each behavior. Try to use the same tone of voice and jargon when disciplining your child.
• Do not undermine each other’s authority in front of your child. Either let it go and discuss it later
when your child is not present, or discretely set up a secret signal to let your partner know that you need a quick “parenting conference” so he or she disengages from the moment giving you time to discuss the approach being used.
• Learn to help each other parent by meeting in the middle instead of compensating for the other’s
approach. In other words, stop being so hard on the kids because your partner is so easy on them
making you feel that somebody has to teach them discipline. Or, stop being so easy on the kids because they need a break from your overly firm partner.
Remediating parenting differences can lift a great deal of hostility and resentful feelings in your marriage. There are so many conflicts that occur in your relationship but when it comes to the
children, disagreements can affect your entire quality of life. It is well worth your while to work on resolving your differences – not to mention the enormous benefit your child will receive.