What do you do when your spouse/partner doesn’t parent the same way you do?
Here are some examples of questions/topics that you and your spouse/partner should be asking one another:
1) (For infants and/or younger children) What do we believe is the most effective way to get our child to sleep through the night? In addition, if we both agree that our child is going to ________________ (i.e., sleep in our room, sleep in our bed, cry it out in their crib, breast feed…etc.) how long of a period should that be?
2) What is our parenting style? Are we too strict, too lenient, well balanced? In addition, what are our thoughts on positive reinforcement, punishments, discipline, behavior modification (i.e., reward charts, token economy)…etc?
3) How involved do we want our in-laws (or other family members) to be in helping us raise our child? If they are going to be involved, what boundaries do we need to set?
4) Will we raise our child in a parent-centric or a child-centric home?
A parent-centric home will have more rules, more structure, and more intellectual discussion. Parental preferences will dictate vacation choices, movie-watching habits, and even what’s-for-dinner.
A child-centric home will have fewer rules, less structure, and more discussion of kiddie activities. Kids will have more say in choosing vacation spots, picking movies for the family to watch, and deciding what the family will have for dinner.
5) What type of educational environment do we want our children to be in?
6) What type of human being do we want to see our child become? (I’m not talking about vocations or hobbies, like becoming a doctor or appreciating music. I’m talking about the likes of self-reliance, self-awareness, discernment, moral and ethical views…etc).
7) What are our views on food/feeding? What types of foods should we feed our child? What foods should we avoid giving our child? How frequently should we feed our child?
8) How much time should we spend with our child? What activities should we do with our child? How much time should we spend away from our child? How often should we have “date nights?” How often should we have romance?
9) Should we generally buy our child what they ask for? Should we have our child do chores? Should we give our child an allowance? Should our child have to “earn” a reward if it’s not a special occasion?
10) If either one of us observes something in our child that we are concerned about (behaviorally, medically or developmentally), what should be the protocol?
And remember……You don’t have to win every argument. Validate. Listen. Love.
Dr. Scott Koenig, Psy.D.