Knowing how to support each other emotionally and then solve problems together, is a vital element of parenting as a team.
In my previous blog, The First Step to a Successful Parenting Team, I stressed the importance of using the Collaborative Problem-Solving Process to find solutions together. Because this article explores the third step, Discuss and Evaluate Ideas, I suggest that you refer to that post first, and then read about how to avoid communication blocks and instead respond with empathetic phrases. This Problem-Solving Process is clearly explained in my book, Ally Parenting: A Non-Adversarial Approach to Transform Conflict Into Cooperation.
Once you are ready to speak and listen to each other without feeling defensive, the questions below will guide you to better understand each other. Rather than thinking of parenting strategies as being either right or wrong, think about whether they will guide your children to reach the goals you have for them.
Explore these 10 questions apart and then together to start building a healthy team parenting approach.
- What would you like your relationship with your children to look, sound, and feel like at each age?
- Are you placing your partnership relationship at the center and nurturing it daily?
- How does your style of parenting differ from your partners?
- What are your values? Are your actions reflecting your values or are they opposite of your values, so your kids become confused?
- What were the “shoulds” that you learned about parents and children’s roles? Which ones are you still following? Which do you want to discard?
- Can you really compare how you were raised to how children are raised now? Is society the same? Were you reared in a different culture than where your family is now?
- Can you acknowledge and work on discarding beliefs and actions you learned that you don’t want to repeat? Can you support your partner’s self-reflective journey as well without criticism?
- What is the cause-effect relationship between your past caregivers thoughts and actions and your relationship with them now? Ask yourself if you feel towards your parents or adult caregivers the way you want your children to feel about you when they are grown?
- Do you understand the difference between punishment and discipline? Research has shown that children will learn good values when parents build caring relationships through respectful discipline rather than punishment. “Punishment doesn’t even teach what not to do, much less the reason not to do it; what it really teaches is the desire to avoid punishment”. (Alfie Kohn, Punished by Rewards, pg. 166.) Are you willing to replace your punishment tactics with discipline beliefs and strategies?
- Are your parenting strategies using the five criteria for effective discipline? (From Jane Nelsen, Ed.D. Positive Discipline book series.)
- Does it help children feel a sense of connection? (Belonging and significance)
- Is it respectful and encouraging? (Kind and firm at the same time.)
- Is it effective long-term? (Punishment works short-term, but has negative long-term results.”
- Does it teach valuable social and life skills for good character? (Respect, concern for others, problem-solving, cooperation.
- Does it help children develop the belief that they are capable?
These questions will take time to think about and answer. Because of this challenge, I suggest that you choose one question at a time to think about independently and then come together and share your thoughts. One of you may be more aware of your insights than the other. Or one of you may be more able to see how your thoughts and actions are helping or hurting your children.
Regardless of each other strengths and weaknesses, remember to not place blame on each other. Rather, think about this team-building process as an opportunity for personal growth. Because of the conflict regarding your children, you have many opportunities to learn about yourself.
Look to each other for love and support because you will be together as your children grow up and create their own families based on the solid foundation you have provided them.
©2018 Cynthia Klein, Bridges 2 Understanding, has been a Certified Parenting Educator since 1994. She works with parents and organizations who want more cooperation, mutual respect and understanding between adults and children. Cynthia presents her expertise through speaking, private parenting coaching sessions, and her book, Ally Parenting: A Non-Adversarial Approach to Transform Conflict Into Cooperation. She works with parents of 5 – 25 year-old children.
To learn how Cynthia can help you solve your specific challenges, contact Cynthia at bridges2understa.wpstagecoach.com,, or 650. 679.8138 to have a complementary 45-minute discovery session. Why keep suffering? It’s time to change!