Get On The Same Page
“We want to get on the same page with our parenting,” is a phrase I hear from almost every couple taking my parenting workshops. This common aspiration is a challenge to manifest. Why is it so hard, and how do couples align their styles to create an effective parenting team? Psychologist, Dr. John Gottman, says, “Every marriage is a cross-cultural experience.” I love this statement because it indicates how each partner comes from a unique family that did things a certain way. Whether you loved it, hated it, or are indifferent, the way we grow up, just seems normal.
I remember celebrating Christmas with my husband’s family during the beginning of our relationship. His family passed out the gifts all at once. What?! In my family, we chose and opened one gift at a time. To me, it felt like my husband’s family was celebrating Christmas wrong! It’s a small thing, but it brought up strong feelings. That’s because when a couple gets together, they are are blending two separate family cultures, each with a myriad of customs, rituals and beliefs. When parenting styles enter the mix, it’s not surprising that parents often don’t see eye-to-eye and experience emotional discord.
It’s not just couples trying to get on the same page. Frequently, a single parent and grandparent try to create a parenting team. Maybe the parent is trying to make some changes from the way he or she was raised and is running into trouble with the elder generation who wants to keep things old-school.
Helpful Three-Step Process
So how do you become more aligned with your parenting partner? Here is a three step process that can help.
- Take time to talk about both perspectives and what is important about each. Make a commitment to spend time listening and asking questions about the other person’s point of view. Many times each partner’s sense of identity is wrapped up in these perspectives.
- Find something to value in your partner’s position. In what ways can you appreciate how you counterbalance each other?
- Agree how each of you can make a concession or two and move toward the other’s stance. Rather than polarizing the other by insisting you are 100 percent right, you can move to middle ground.
It feels good to be on the same team, especially when we know we need our A-game with our children or they will be running the show! Even if it feels a little strange to step out of your old way of doing things, it may be a whole lot better for your children and bring some happiness and harmony between you and your partner.