No matter how much you and your spouse love each other, disagreements over childrearing can create surprising riffs. But your differences do not have to frustrate you and end with one of you just “giving in.”
Your overall goals of parenting as a team must urger you to understand why one of you has bonded more with one of your children, and then make effective changes.
Here are some key questions, concepts, and tested tips for parenting as a team.
1. How to bond with your child
It is not unusual for one parent to have emotionally “claimed” one of the children in a healthy way. For example, husbands tend to bond more easily with boys, and mothers to bond more easily with girls. But not all the time!
However, in some marriages, where the children include both boys and girls, the husband might bond more with a daughter—or a mother with a son. This “switch” can occur when they share common interests or talents.
For example, in one of the couples I counseled, the father loved to build things such as tool sheds, closet shelves, tables, and just about anything that could be made of wood.
The oldest daughter also had these skills and interests. They spent a lot of time together, making things.
The mother felt left out, and when she tried to make plans with her daughter to do things such as go shopping, the daughter did not want to go.
One of our first tips on parenting is to praise your child for whatever he or she is doing. Do not complain that he or she does not spend time with you.
Instead, for effective co-parenting discuss with your child any or all of the following suggestions:
Ask your child, “What else interests you?”
Tell your child a story about you when you were a child and discovered some things that you liked—and disliked to do—and what you liked and disliked about how your parents dealt with your preferences.
Ask your child what he or she would like you to understand better about them and their interests.
Ask your child what he or she does not like to do with you.
Ask your child what he or she would like to do with you.
Also watch: How to praise and encourage kids.
2. Balancing the bonding behavior
Feeling close to your children is normal and healthy.
But bonding too much—or too little–can signal a potentially unhealthy relationship between you and your child—and you and your spouse.
Here are the most common situations to consider:
You might be “over-bonding” with a child if you are trying to turn that child into the child who gains the approval of your parents or caregivers. If you feel that the people who raised you did not like you or love you for who you are, then it is more likely that you will “put all your love eggs into the basket” of this child. The hope is to feel finally loved by proxy—regardless of the sex of your child.
You might also be “over-bonding” with a child to turn that child into your “best buddy.” If you feel that your marriage is lacking in love between you and your spouse, you might feel tempted to turn one of your children into your best buddy, friend, companion, and love substitute.
You might also be “under-bonding” with a child if you and your child are very different from each other—especially if this child does not “fit” into your family or the family who raised you.
None of these scenarios are good for parenting as a team. Here are some tested successful co-parenting tips to ensure healthy parental teamwork:
Solutions for parenting as a team:
For parenting as a team, get emotionally brave enough to do some psychological soul-searching about your childhood and, especially, the behavior of your parents and caregivers toward you. Tough out the feelings that you may not be able to gain their approval.
Seek counseling if you and/or your spouse cannot face these issues or know how to deal with these feelings.
If your marriage is not an abusive environment, discuss these issues with your spouse. Be sure to come up with doable suggestions for parenting as a team. Set some ground rules: No dismissing an idea, solution, or discussion without offering another remedy. Brainstorm together.
Take time to get to know more about the child who does not seem to “fit” in your family. Go for a walk and ask your child what you need to know about him or her. Invite this child to “teach” you about things that he or she likes and can do. Ask this child what he or she would like to do with you, your spouse, and alone.
Develop ways to loosen ties with favorite children. Lessen the time or number of activities you do with your favorite child. Don’t do this task abruptly. Ease out.
For example, you can explain that you trust them, want them to be more on their own, that you now have other pressing responsibilities at work or at home. But never leave out cheering for them.
Remember to develop independence training in all your children. Good parents do not have to go to every sports game or set up appointments with every teacher. It is wise to allow your children to be able to self-praise and to deal with teachers and others on their own.
Keep a diary or journal to record your thoughts, feelings, and actions.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
My name is LeslieBeth (LB) Wish. Everyone calls me LB. I welcome you and thank you for your visit to LoveVictory.com! If you are looking for help about your life, I can empower you to get emotionally brave and smart so you can trust your intuition about your situation and decisions in love, work, family, happiness and success.