040: 3 Surprisingly Simple Ways to Get Your Spouse on the Same Parenting Page

“You did what!? I just sent them to their room without dinner and instead you took them out to McDonald’s? Are you crazy?! Or do you hate me?” Have you ever had a conversation like this with your spouse about their parenting. You are not alone. This is one of the most common questions we get about parenting. Dr. Kevin Leman gives astonishing insights on how to get on the same page as your spouse.

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Andrea and I grew up in homes that had very different views on eating. Andrea’s family had a value f healthy living. My (Doug’s) family came from a carefree and celebratory view of eating, especially when it came to candy and other sweets. When we got married, we did not agree at all on this issue. Eventually, we found some resolution, but not completely. We still can get into minor skirmishes about it. Andrea has agreed to lovingly come closer to my views. I, on the other hand, need to stop pushing for his way all the time.

Candy and sweets are not a major issue of parenting. Yet, parenting differences play out in fights in many families.

This episode is devoted to giving you action steps for getting on the same parenting page.

Step 1: Recognize why you don’t agree.

When we say that our spouse is undermining our efforts to parent our kids correctly, we are really saying that we have not submitted to each other. We aren’t going to give in to the other person.

It is like saying, “I am right and you are wrong.”  Here is the key: You must realize that you may be wrong. Or. . . you might be making a mountain out of a mole hill.

Competitive parenting never works, because someone is winning and someone is losing. Competitive parenting leads to a competitive marriage–which often ends badly.

One reason you may not be on the same parenting page is because you refuse to agree with them. Try opening yourself up to listen and consider the possibility that you may not be right.

Step 2: Get on their page.

Once you open yourself up to listen to them, try getting on their parenting page. In fact, get on their parenting page EVEN if it is the wrong page.

By getting on the same page, you do three things. One, your child no longer can run wild between your differences. Secondly, you will stop fighting with each other and start looking at the behavior of the child. Lastly, your spouse can no longer blame you for parenting incorrectly. Their parenting style is now on full display.

You may need to will yourself to their page. You will likely need to bite your tongue.

Remember, if their parenting style is abusive or they have destructive behaviors like alcoholism, then don’t jump over there. Be reasonable, and of course, keep your kids safe.

Step 3: How to talk about parenting issues

Now that you are on the same page with your spouse, when a behavior problem arises, ask your spouse for their input on how to solve it. Use the words like “maybe” and “we”.

If your spouse grounds your son, Bob, and doesn’t realize the effect on you, try asking them this, “Dear, thanks for engaging Bob. Do you think MAYBE we could talk about grounding him before you ground him? This way we could explore options together and consider the ramifications.”

Now that you are using their play book, when your kid behaves really badly, feel free to walk away and let them deal with the consequences. Go to the bathroom or leave for a short walk. By letting them deal with it, they will likely realize this isn’t working.

When it gets bad enough, ask if maybe the two of you together could explore different options. Ask them to find the solution. If they don’t have time to research other options, ask them if it would be okay if you did some research and brought a summary of what you found.

Build the plan together. It won’t happen overnight, but being on different pages is destructive on many levels. Work to get on the same page.

Action Steps to get on the same page:
Be open to their different opinions
Get on their page, even if it is the wrong page.
Wait and be silent as you parent on their page.
When things get bad enough, ask if there is a different option to explore together.

Parenting Tip/ Pocket Answer

Get on their page, even if it is the wrong page.
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Parenting is not a competitive sport.

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Podcast by: Dr. Kevin Leman with Doug & Andrea Terpening Post by: Doug Terpening