Mom and Dad: United Front
So, what if you have a different parenting philosophy than your husband? What if you don’t match up on the expectations of your children? Who determines what the rules will be?
Both of you do. If the two of you have different standards of behavior for your kids, nobody wins. Your kids will be confused for awhile, and then they’ll figure it out and be very smart. They will parent shop and inadvertently pit the two of you against each other. At that point it becomes a real mess. But if you and your husband have different viewpoints, you’ll do yourself a favor to unify.
Start with things you both want your children to embrace. Morals. Values. Education. Faith. The big things you both want to instill in your children. Then work from there. Look for positive ways to teach them, such as spending time and actually talking about values. When situations arise you can use them as teaching moments. How you conduct yourself in the home and with others is also instilling your values in them as they watch you. Ask yourselves, “Where are the boundaries?” and “What are the consequences of crossing those boundaries?”
Brad and Heidi valued truthfulness in their kids. They felt that if they could trust what their children said, then they could build core values on that trust. Because kids are tempted to lie, they came up with a serious consequence: it was Tabasco sauce on the tongue. Fully edible and harmless, it brought temporary pain. It was a powerful deterrent for their children, a lesson that lies cause real pain. They didn’t have much trouble with their kids telling the truth after that.
Children need to know where the boundaries are and the consequences of wandering outside those boundaries. Most law enforcement parents understand this because they administer the consequences of those who don’t have boundaries every shift. But here’s the key: children who have lovingly been given the perimeters for behavior and firm follow up to help them rely on those boundaries feel secure. It doesn’t mean they won’t try to push the limits. But it gives them peace, knowing that they have room to grow and be kids within the safety of balanced behavior. These perimeters also give the child a sense of dignity.
A couple of years ago, Brent and I had an issue with one of our teenagers. There was a breakdown in trust as boundaries were broken. For the first time, we found ourselves with different views on how to handle things. Brent took an aggressive approach, and I preferred to be more passive, seeing our child’s point of view. Both of us loved our child fiercely, but we had differences in how to respond. As the months passed and things began to improve, I realized I had taken sides with my teenager. This wasn’t wise. I could see both sides, but because I didn’t align myself completely with my husband, I caused more harm to their relationship and ours. Brent didn’t feel supported, and I think our child lost some respect for me in the process. But it’s never too late; we talked it out and realized there were more similarities than differences that we could agree and act on. The most important thing was to be unified as parents.
When you and your husband set the boundaries for your kids, respect his instincts. It’s always better to set the bar a little higher and adjust later if needed as you both grow in your parenting. Giving more privileges up front and then taking them back later causes a lot of frustration in your kids.