Coming to an Agreement About a Child’s Upbringing
It's true that all parents want what's best for their children. Just the same, coming to an agreement about a child's upbringing is not always easy for couples. If you're not open to dialogue and negotiation, your conflicts may end up seriously harming your little ones.
When a couple decides to start a family, two worlds come together to form a completely new one. The baggage, opinions, and viewpoints of each partner come crashing together to face the task of raising a family. This can make coming to an agreement about a child’s upbringing a difficult challenge.
When we become parents, the way in which our parents raised us becomes quite evident. Whether the intention is to repeat it or to avoid it, the upbringing we received takes on an important role. Our fears, desires, and beliefs come to the forefront and, on occasion, clash with those of our partner.
A common front
However, it’s essential for children to see their parents as a common, solid and firm front. This provides them with clear limits and security regarding how to handle themselves in life. If children witness constant disagreements among their parents, they’ll receive mixed messages and feel a lack of a clear reference point.
Contradictions between parents and the resulting sense of insecurity lead to undoubted sadness and discomfort in children.
What’s more, it may become a factor that children learn to take advantage of. In other words, children may use these rifts between their parents in order to align with whichever parent’s viewpoint they prefer on each occasion.
Even when it comes to parents that are separated, it’s still best to come to an agreement about a child’s upbringing. It’s important that the children of separated parents receive the same messages in both of their homes.
Lack of agreement about a child’s upbringing
There are two main situations that reflect parents’ difficulty in coming to an agreement about a child’s education.
Both have completely different perspectives on child-raising
This is the clearest case. Given their own life experiences, each parent has very different ideas about what is best for their child’s upbringing. Both feel that they’re right and that what they believe is true. This causes inflexibility when it comes to dialogue, listening and negotiating with their partner.
Each partner tries to impose whatever he or she thinks is right, producing a sense of confusion and a lack of control in children. Therefore, disagreements and arguments between parents are constant and can turn into a battle of egos.
There is an agreement in theory but not in practice
Another situation that presents itself commonly is when parents, through dialogue, come to an agreement about a child’s upbringing. They seem to share the same values and viewpoints and have no difficulty in setting rules for their home.
However, when it comes to putting their agreement into practice, one of the parents is much more permissive than the other. The child-raising philosophy that he or she totally supported now seems unimportant. The parent makes constant exceptions and no longer takes the child-raising agreement seriously.
In doing so, lenient parents undo all their partner’s hard work of sticking to the agreement and establishing limits. What’s more, they set them against their children as inflexible ogres.
How to come to an agreement about a child’s upbringing
- You’re a new family. It’s good to talk about the upbringing you both received and use it as a reference point in some aspects. However, don’t lose sight of the fact that this a totally new family and you don’t have to repeat your parents’ actions. The way your parents raised you isn’t the only way, or even necessarily the best.
- Make sure you and your partner show yourselves as a united front. Talk privately about the rules you want to impose in your home. Avoid arguing and contradicting one another in front of your children. If one of you has a conflict with your child, it’s best for the other to stay out of it and wait until you’re alone to talk about it.
- Remember that you’re a team. Your partner isn’t the enemy, but rather your ally. Look for solutions together and avoid accusations and power struggles.
- Be constant about setting limits. Don’t leave the task of child-raising up to your partner or undermine his or her hard work. If you made an agreement, put it into practice. Raising a human being requires effort, but it’s a beautiful responsibility.