The two most common topics of arguments between spouses are supposedly finances and parenting. It doesn’t have to be that way. Parents, especially Christian parents, need to have a strong game plan in parenting. If not, it is going to be difficult to help your kids build strong spiritual foundations and grow to their godly potential. Without a plan, arguments will become the norm as you “negotiate” through parenting choices in the moment. Life is stressful enough without having constant arguments over parenting decisions.
My husband and I had very few parenting disagreements as we were raising our daughter. We argued about other things, but for the most part we avoided parenting arguments. Here are some things we learned along the way that can help you and your spouse avoid arguing over parenting.
- Get on the same page ASAP. It’s best to do this before your kids are born, but it’s never too late. The thing to remember is that no matter how similar your backgrounds, you and your spouse were parented in different ways. Some of those differences are minor and some are major. While you may want to change some things your parents did, you will most likely parent your kids how your parents parented you. This becomes problematic when those differences between your two families conflict. The best solution is to pick a parenting book or course and both read it or take it. Agree you will follow that plan unless you both disagree with some aspect of it. Then you have a plan you have both agreed to follow unless you both agree some aspect of it isn’t working.
- Plan ahead. Sit down with your spouse before your kids reach the next stage of development and discuss how you want to handle common issues. The thing about parenting is your kids are constantly changing. This means your parenting needs to change with your kids. Many milestones, like driving, occur at certain ages. It’s easier to parent through these changes, if you decide a couple of months or even years before a milestone how you want to handle it.
- Don’t get stuck in your “good cop” or “bad cop” roles. So many couples allow one parent to just be the “fun” parent and force the other to handle all of the correction and discipline. All sorts of plausible justifications are given for the dynamic, but at the end of the day allowing one parent to always just have fun with the kids and forcing the other to do all of the correction and discipline just isn’t fair. If you have anger issues, get professional help. Otherwise, share the responsibility and the fun equally.
- Stop with the excuses and whining and change the dirty diapers! Once again, this unfair dynamic is all too common. Often it is excused because the mom is nursing or one is a stay at home parent. The other parent has all sorts of reasons why he or she has only changed 20 out of 10,000 dirty diapers or the other parent is always the one cleaning up the vomit or any of the other less pleasant aspects of parenting. Not doing your fair share of the unpleasant or boring parts of parenting will eventually cause your spouse to become irritated. And then angry. And possibly even resentful. Which is a breeding ground for all sorts of arguments. Some of these arguments may seem unrelated to parenting, but have their roots in a frustrated spouse. Your kids belong to both of you and it’s not fair to ask one parent to handle all of the hard parts of parenting, while the other only parents when there is something fun involved.
- Find a mediator. If there is some area of parenting that causes constant arguments and seems to never resolve itself, consider getting a mediator. It doesn’t have to be a professional Christian counselor, although in some cases that may be necessary. Often an older Christian couple who has raised children who are active, productive Christians as adults can give you the godly parenting advice you need. (It is crucial you find a couple who has raised children who are strong Christians, as they have a positive parenting outcome.)
This tips won’t prevent every argument between you and your spouse, but they can help drastically reduce them. Life is stressful enough. Do the work to minimize the amount of arguing in your home.