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Getting On The Same Page With Your Partner

Whilst Having Different Parenting Styles

Struggling to get on the same page with your partner about your differing parenting styles? Are you finding that you are constantly arguing about the small things that are important to you? Are you worried that your partner's parenting style could be damaging to your child?

Communication with your partner can be a game-changer either in fostering that partnership you envision with your partner or fueling any resentment that you may harbour towards your partner.

 

Let's look at how you can foster a loving and respectful "parentship" between you and your partner whilst having different parenting styles and what your child can learn from this.

Couple Having Breakfast

The fact that you are here means that your relationship is important to you. The reason this is also important is because children learn so much from the relationship between partners and through awareness of how you are communicating in your relationship you can model to your child the same.

 

There are a number of reasons for partners struggling to get on the same page:

1) You lose connection with your partner

2) There is a break down in communication

3) Our need to be right - Ego wants to protect the deeper fear which is essentially that you want to protect your child and that your child is going to be "damaged" by a certain parenting style. 

 

There are four negative communication patterns, as defined by psychological researcher John Gottman, that can lead to a breakdown and the possible end of your relationship:

  1. Critism 

  2. Defensiveness

  3. Stonewalling

  4. Contempt

Click the highlighted link above to see some language examples of these negative communication patterns so that you can deepen your awareness of how you communicate with your partner to break any patterns/cycles. As awareness grows, behaviour goes!

 

Let’s step back and look at the bigger picture

 

STEP 1: VALUES

What do you want for your children? Imagine your children are now 25 years old and have knocked on your door for a surprise visit. What kind of person do you hope to see in front of you? What characteristics and life skills do you hope they have? Make a list labeled “FUTURE CHARACTERISTICS AND LIFE SKILLS”

 

Many parents don’t realize that the discipline methods they use do not help them achieve what they really want for their children. Creating this roadmap for your children will help guide you to that destination.

This helps you to focus on what is important to you and the values that you would like to instill in your child. A good idea is to put your list up in the house somewhere that you can read it daily, especially when faced with those challenges!

STEP 2: STRENGTHS

What are some of your partner's strengths? Point them out to your partner and be specific. 

STEP 3: DISCUSSIONS

Asking questions and learning about your partner can be very helpful. 

Example:

What is something your parents did that you didn’t like? What stressors are going on for you right now? What are you grateful for in our relationship? What do you appreciate about me? How can I support you in the upcoming week? If you could change one thing about how things are going what would it be?

 

No solution no response. Just listening to what the other partner has to say. 

 

STEP 4ACTION PLAN

How do you plan to navigate those difficult moments? 

 

Have a "Before", "During" and "After" action plan.

Before:

What will you do in those moments? What would you like in those moments? What would you like the other parent to do?

During:

Will you have a sign (such as the "flipped-lid" sign) to tap-out just before you are about to lose your cool?

Afterward:

Speak about how that went. What will you do differently going forward? What did you like that the other parent did?

STEP 5: NAVIGATING THE CHALLENGING MOMENTS

If the other parent does something that you disapprove of (for example: spanks your child), realize in those challenging moments that the other parent is feeling very much out of control, they feel powerless and they need to get back in control. Get curious about your partner's behaviour. This does not condone the behaviour and our first priority is to ensure that everyone, especially the children are safe. Getting curious about why your partner has snapped can be helpful in those moments. This also teaches your child empathy by modeling curiosity and meeting your partner with calm opposed to "joining the chaos".

 

Use Conversation Openers:

  • "You sound really frustrated...” 

  • “You seem stressed about something today..."

Avoid Conversation Closers:

  • “You just have to make the effort to be a better parent!”

  • “Don’t be such a close-minded person. Positive parenting is the right way of raising kids!”  

Avoid Questions:

  • "Why are you so angry at our child?"

  • "Why don't you want to go to the parenting workshop?"

 

Keep the conversation safe for your partner by managing your own emotions. When your partner shares something with you that makes you anxious, use your Pause Button to Stop, Drop your anxiety, and Breathe. Your partner needs your help at this moment, not a reprimand to shame them for their parenting style or make them feel worse/wrong in their response/reaction.

 

For example, if your partner comes home and yells “I can't stand my boss! He humiliated me in front of everyone at work!” you might well want to respond: “What did you do?” What your partner needs to hear is: “That must have been so embarrassing. No wonder you feel so angry! I would feel that way too.”

What's most important here is supporting your partner to work through these difficult feelings and be a listening ear so that they can possibly come up with a plan of action/solution that works for them. It is important not to start solving the problem for your partner. The point is to let them get past their upset so that they can begin to think about solutions themselves. When they express their feelings about something, you'll want to listen and acknowledge, rather than jumping in with solutions. That means you'll have to manage your own anxiety about the issue if any comes up for you.

Help your partner process emotions with your empathy. Think of your empathy as a mirror you hold up to your partner. Your acknowledgment and acceptance of what they are feeling -- even those more disturbing emotions like jealousy and anger -- helps them to accept their own feelings, which is what allows them to resolve. Most of the time, when a person (and child) feel their emotions are understood and accepted, the feelings lose their charge and begin to dissipate. We don’t have to act on those feelings, or even to like them, merely to acknowledge their presence.

Repressed feelings, on the other hand, don't fade away, as feelings do when they’ve been acknowledged. Repressed feelings are trapped and looking for a way out. Because they aren’t under conscious control, they pop out unmodulated. 

Accepting your partner's feelings and reflecting them does not mean you agree with them or endorse them. You’re showing your partner that you understand, nothing more, and nothing less. And if you’ve ever felt understood, you understand just how great a gift this is.

Many partners don't like confrontation and don't like to be put on the spot. People (and children) often open up more when we aren't looking directly at them. Your partner may feel more comfortable talking while driving in the car, doing dishes, or going for a walk. Sometimes when we turn the lights out at night, our partners pour out their souls to us in the dark.

STEP 6APPRECIATION

Most people, if not all, want to feel appreciated. End every discussion you have with your partner by mentioning one thing about them that you appreciate or are grateful for. This ends the conversation on a good note, and sets your relationship up for success, which sets a wonderful example for your child too!

CONCLUSION

You do not need to parent the same way in order for you to be on the same page. There are pros to different parenting styles (provided that there is no domestic violence or abuse) and if you can see the benefits in your child learning STRENGTHS of different styles, then it can only be to their advantage.

 

Learning how to respectfully disagree with our partners whilst still holding space can be challenging at first, practice makes progress and everything is hard before it gets easy. The great part is that we are presented with plenty of opportunities and challenges in life to practice!

CONSCIOUS COPARENTING

Conscious co-parenting is where both parents work together in a collaborative and respectful way to raise their children.


This approach prioritizes the needs of the children and encourages both parents to be actively involved in the upbringing of their children.
By practicing conscious co-parenting, both parents can work together to provide a stable and supportive environment for their children, even after a separation or divorce.

This approach can help minimize the impact of conflict on the children and ensure that they receive the love and care they need to thrive.

This 45-minute short course dives into all the information you need to know:

NEED MORE SUPPORT?

Contact us here for consult inquiries or email info@casfamilies.co.za to find out more about what the next best step is for your unique family.

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