This month, we ask our TLM dads about their approaches to parenting, and what they do when they and their partner/co-parent disagree on something…
It’s not uncommon for parents to discover they have different approaches to different scenarios involving their children as time goes on. Parenting is unpredictable and varied, and with different backgrounds and upbringings parents will find they don’t always agree on how a situation should be approached.
As much as many of use swear we won’t, often we end up parenting how we were parented! Sometimes, the differences can work themselves into some kind of balance: for example, one partner may be the disciplinarian that provides the boundaries and teaches that negative actions will have consistent and non-negotiable consequences, while the more liberal parent will provide the trusting guiding hand the child needs to make independent decisions on their safety and social behaviour. However, disagreements can inevitably occur, and it’s important to consider how you deal with these clashes together, particularly in the presence of the child. Every situation is different, but some advice from fathers who have been there may help.
Mark Lloyd is a 44-year-old author, publisher and stay-at home dad. He’s married to the ‘wonderfully tolerant’ Annmaria and they have three boys: Jack(14), Tom(11) and George(9). “As any writer would know, there are two prevailing schools of thought on how best to craft a story. The first is by planning, taking notes, researching, structuring, storyboarding; the second is just to have at it, fly by the seat of your pants. My wife is a planner. I’m a pantser. Early on in our adventure on planet parenthood we would disagree all the time about our approach and inevitably someone would win out. Recently, I began to emotionally mature so these days we tend towards compromise, and inevitably that means following Annmaria’s advice as she is the sensible one. Were I to dare describe our parenting technique it would be couched in caveats on a bed of grey areas.
Our boys benefit from the excitement and instability of ‘make it up as you go along’, the warmth of ‘whatever you do, do it with love’ and a fair-to-middling understanding of where the do-not cross boundaries lie. We’re still learning and so are they.”
TLM contributor and fitness coach Jason Kenny agrees that the learning is mutual, and he laughs about the way that his children attempt to test the boundaries. “We do discuss strategies but even though we are the adults we are certain that our children are reincarnated little Generals – they out smart us every time! Therefore I do think it is important to work together and not to go against each other as it can be seen as a weak link in the chain. These little people are on constant watch for any bit of a slip up at all and if by mistake they catch you off guard they will use it to play one off another. So be wide people, very wide…!”
There is a lot to navigate when introducing boundaries and discipline, and there are power struggles occurring between both parents and children. Disagreements and clashes are not unusual; they are part of family life. Unity in spite of those differences, whether you are together as a couple or not, is the key. If you feel that your differences are beginning to cause a rift between you and impact on your children it should be addressed between yourselves or by consulting a professional guidance counsellor. If you are able to find compromise, laugh off the differences, accept that your way may not always be the only right way, you will find your way through.
Article by: Kayleigh Ziolo
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