Effective team parenting is a key ingredient for a happy relationship between two parents…
Remember, you both love your children and you both want the best for them.
Stress and conflict arise, though, when you have different views on what raising them looks like and how to best accomplish this goal.
It’s important to learn how to logically analyze the effectiveness of each parenting strategy and be willing to compromise…
And focusing on developing children who are respectful of themselves and others (i.e., caring, and successful adults).
To accomplish this goal, recognize that the tricky part in parenting as a team is that parenting is more emotional than logical.
Step One: Breaking Down Emotions
So, the first step (before getting to logic) is to learn what triggers emotions and how to manage them in each other.
Therefore, it’s important to know that the biggest hurdles for couples to overcome are often their own fears, and then feeling judged and hurt by their partner.
When you feel hurt, it’s difficult to hear new ideas (even if they are more effective than yours).
In my book, Ally Parenting: A Non-Adversarial Approach to Transform Conflict Into Cooperation, I discuss how to problem solve collaboratively, and how to be the Collaborator Role with your children.
You can use the same collaborative problem-solving process with your partner to evaluate and choose how to parent in each situation.
Let’s estimate how many parenting decisions you make while raising your kids…conservatively, 20 times a day x 365 days a year x 18 years! Yikes!
That’s at least 131,400 decisions, not counting all the major decisions that have a big impact on your family.
Now you can see, the number of times (and that estimate is probably low) that you or your partner could feel emotionally charged.
Children (and how to raise them) adds a tremendous source of conflict to a partnership.
You can see why the inability to make decisions together and to resolve conflict is in the top 10 reasons why people divorce.
Step Two: Unblock Communication
The next step to successfully parenting as a team (and the first step in the Collaborative Problem-Solving Process) is to stop blocking communication.
As long as one or both of you feel criticized, hurt, and not heard, you will not be able to get through the emotions of parenting and logically come to mutual decisions.
Focusing on what communication blocks you are using can greatly improve all relationships.
“A communication block is any remark or attitude on the part of the listener that injures the speaker’s self -esteem to the extent that communication breaks down.” Michael Popkin, PhD.
Examples of communication blocks are:
- giving unwanted advice
- being a know-it-all
- and YELLING!
To understand emotions, discuss with your partner which communication blocks trigger you and cause you to shut down or get outwardly angry.
Every parent I’ve worked with uses one or more of these blocks, causing strain in their relationships (not just with their partner, but their children).
Once you learn which blocks are particularly troublesome, then put every effort into stopping yourself when you are about to block.
Tell yourself something along the lines of: “I may really want to say this, but it will hurt my partner so I’m going to keep my mouth shut.”
Learning how to understand your emotions (and those of your loved ones), and controlling your impulses to block communication will go a long way towards learning how to parent as a team.
I go into detail in my book about your communication blocks and how to respond instead with empathy, leading to a logical problem-solving discussion.
Conflicts over how to raise children without a means to resolve differences can create a deep and permanent rift.
Strive to be flexible, creative, supportive of differences and committed to find acceptable solutions as children mature and you evolve.
©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.