Did you marry your opposite? Most couples find that they did. When it comes to parenting we often come at things from two different vantage points. Even though we may agree on a purpose and share a philosophy of parenting, our personalities and histories can cause us to lean either towards being more strict or lenient.
Are you the more easy going parent who wants to give your children a chance to express opinions and emotions? Perhaps you appeal to your husband to lighten up on the limits and back off the immediate reaction to wrongdoing. Or, maybe you are like me. You know your mind and you believe in the power of consequences. In that case, you may desire for your husband to step it up and give more concrete intervention when your children get out of line.
The Resident Expert
My husband and I have discussed parenting parameters and methods over the years and landed on what fits for us. I have devoted time to studying parenting approaches. I even co-authored a book on the subject. My increased knowledge did us no favors. You might wonder why that could be so. The trouble was, the more I learned, the greater my sense of expertise became. I started to feel my way had to be right. My husband’s way needed improvement. We wives can feel that way whether we have an MA in Family Therapy or not.
Our family entered the rougher seas of parenting with our strong-willed teen son a few years ago. This transition caused us to have to up our parenting A-game. My husband continued his reserved style while I took a more directive approach. He’s more likely to ride out the waves while I’m grabbing at tiller and oar to get us back on course.
A Deeper Solution
To resolve this difference, we assumed landing on one unified approach would help solve our parenting issues and result in more compliance and harmony in our children. You may think the same thing: “If we can just agree on what to do when the kids act up, we’ll be golden.”
It’s just not true.
While concurring on a parenting approach and style helps, families need a deeper solution. I’m talking about a foundation of respect and love. When one member of a marriage (or both) starts to think they do things in a more efficient, better or “right” way than the other, the marriage falls off kilter. For my husband and me, I subtly began to diminish the value of his contribution as a father.
What happens next?
Fuel for Disobedience
Children are like little detectives. Do you remember watching your parents as a child? No one had to tell you if they were in a fight or madly in love with one another. You knew. The connected bond of respect and love between your parents made you feel all was well in the world. When things were strained, disrespectful or unloving, your world didn’t feel as safe. When children sense the absence of honor between their parents, they start to act out.
Don’t get me wrong, children will misbehave regardless of family dynamics. In families where the parents aren’t bonded through respect and love, increased disobedience can be a cry for help and a reaction to instability in the marriage.
The Blame Game
Thankfully, in our home, this hasn’t been the dominant trend. Still, we have experienced the erosion of respect enough at certain times to cause difficulties. Any blaming – even unspoken accusing thoughts – can undermine the stability in a marriage.
When we think, “If only he would …” or “I wish he wouldn’t …” we are believing our spouse should be different. A lie starts to take root in our hearts and we swallow it as though it were true: “My husband is the problem.” A disastrous pattern of resentment begins to form. Where there should be love, unity, and submission, distance and conflict start to emerge.
Believe it or not, so many parenting problems would be resolved through this one simple (not easy) step of committing to weed out any spirit of blaming and replace it with love and respect. When parents are united and children see care and honor between them, the family becomes a secure place.
We don’t even have to employ the same parenting style.
Completing One Another
I’m learning now that God put me and my husband together for a reason. My more boundary oriented, directive style of parenting is needed. My husband’s compassionate and patient style is also a blessing. Did you hear that? We are like the perfect sweet and salty popcorn. The two flavors compliment and complete one another.
Instead of asking my husband to become more like me, I’m learning to thank God for the goodness his wisdom and forbearance give to our family. I can look at him as the gift he is to me and our boys instead of falsely believing he is an impediment to the well-being of our children.
It turns out the best antidote to parenting problems comes from cultivating love and honor in your marriage. The best marriages aren’t the perfect ones. Good parenting flows from couples who weather the storms and hang on long enough to learn how to love and honor well.
How are you doing parenting as a team? I’d love to hear from you.
If you want to join other moms committed to loving intentionally while making room for what matters most, let me know by signing up for my Hearts Homeward letters.
If you sign up today, I’ll send you my free “Love and Honor” inspiration bookmark. You can use it to remind yourself of your commitment to bless your husband and nurture your marriage daily. I’ll also send you an invitation to the Intentional Motherhood Community.
If this post blessed you, and you are struggling with your marriage right now (we all go through those harder seasons!), you might want to read my post: What in the World Can You Count on When You Can’t Count on Your Husband?
Do you know a friend who needs this encouragement? Share this post with her. Better yet, send her this post and then call her up to pray together over your marriages – that they would be characterized by love and honor.