I feel like my husband and I are the “good cop” and “bad cop” with our children. He came from a family where children were expected to obey no matter what and I came from a family that was more kind and respectful of individual needs. Our kids pretty much come to me for everything because their dad will always say “no.” He feels like I give in to them and is only involved when I need him to discipline a kid. He wishes I would be stricter with the kids and I wish he would be more fair and kind to them. Can you share any ideas on how to get out of this situation?
I agree you both need to get on the same page with your parenting approach so your kids aren’t caught in the middle. The biggest problem, however, is that both of your styles are pushing the other further away from each other. This split undermines your children’s relationships with each of you and creates insecurity in the foundation of the family.
Both of your styles clearly have merit. Your husband’s upbringing and your upbringing have strengths and weaknesses. To assume that one’s family was perfect while the other wasn’t perfect isn’t helpful when trying to develop a parenting strategy for your family.
Instead, pick a time to sit down with your husband and talk about how important it is for you to be on the same page with him. Each of you needs a chance to talk about why you do what you do with your children. Listen carefully for the strengths in the approach and how it can help your children.
My guess is that your husband has some great ideas that can influence the way you parent your children. He probably notices things you don’t noIsIstice. The same goes for you as well. You notice things he doesn’t notice and can inform his parenting style. The goal isn’t to turn the other person into a copy of you. The goal is to blend your styles into a unified way of interacting with your children.
If your children know that you respect each other’s strengths, they will respond better to each of you. If they sense your frustration with your husband’s style, they will split and choose sides, which isn’t good for anyone.
Of course, if you and your husband can’t even begin this conversation with each other, seek out a qualified marriage counselor who can help you work through this conversation so you can be on the same page with each other. Sometimes the stakes feel so high and the issues so personal when it comes to parenting and family life that it can be difficult to navigate the conversation.
Let him know you want him involved and you value the strengths he brings to the family, even if his execution is rough and needs some work. As you both become less polarized, everyone will benefit and you’ll both improve your relationships with your children.
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Geoff Steurer is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in St. George, Utah. He specializes in working with couples in all stages of their relationships. The opinions stated in this article are solely his and not those of St. George News.
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