The Importance of Working Together when Parenting

The Importance of Working Together when Parenting

27 April 2021
Posted by: Chelsea

Why is working together when parenting important?

Bringing up a child is a huge responsibility.

Every parent or couple needs to decide how best to go about that. Solutions may vary from one couple in a particular environment to another. Of course, single-parent challenges are different again.

Here we’ll share some ideas based around couples and their communications. We think this is important because many behaviours in children are heavily influenced by what they see in their parents.

Children and certainty

Children need to feel secure and as part of that, they value certainty and familiarity.

If fundamentally different approaches are adopted by one parent to the other, that can introduce uncertainty and confusion into the child’s life. In turn, that can lead to them being unclear about certain core values.

Let’s take a hypothetical example. The child who knows they can play with their toys outside on the grass with one parent whilst the other forbids it due to the risk of the toys becoming dirty. That child is very likely to become confused about what is ‘right’.

Kids are pretty flexible and inevitably they’ll adapt to these sorts of differences in policies but ideally, they shouldn’t have to. That’s because taken to extremes, this can lead children to have very nebulous views of rules as a whole – not something you’ll want them to take forward into their later childhood and teenage years.

Working together when parenting and disputes

No parents set out to argue in front of their children but it can happen all too easily.

That’s generally undesirable but it’s particularly so if the dispute relates to the child and their behaviours. Apart from anything else, it can mean the child becomes distressed and is forced to take sides. They might possibly also think it is all their fault.

That should be avoided at all costs.

Top tips

Taking all the above into account, here are some of our top tips for working together when parenting:

  • don’t squabble in front of children. It’s hard sometimes but try to ‘park’ the issue until you have privacy;
  • agree basic rules for the child’s behaviour privately beforehand. Do not try and argue about them in front of children. Kids will quickly work out who is the disciplinarian and who is the softer touch (and exploit that!) but don’t try and help them by obvious disputes they can observe;
  • avoid undermining your partner if they’re trying to impose some rules on your child which you haven’t heard before. Discuss any doubts you have or modifications you’d like afterwards;
  • do not berate your partner for their failings in front of a child. Younger children have a tendency to see their parents as infallible and that is a highly desirable thing for rule making. Seeing one of them being heavily criticised by the other can cause huge confusion;
  • never tell your child ‘confidentially’ that they can ignore your partner’s rules with you;
  • design your rules in advance rather than try and ‘wing it’ with the children. Making it up as you go along can lead to howling mistakes and the imposition of impractical rules that just can’t work. Your kids might see that very quickly and it’ll force you or your partner to retract them fast;
  • support your partner in front of the children – even if they’re wrong. Of course, this can only be done within reason and sometimes disagreement immediately may be necessary but in general, try not to question their authority or credibility with the children present;
  • don’t step-in and take over if your partner is trying to enforce some rules with your child. Even if they’re struggling to make headway, let them deal with it or you risk undermining their authority.

As a final tip, a key component of working together when parenting is finding time for each other. That’s not only about discussing rules for the children but also helping to keep your relationship healthy!

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