When we think about parenting often times, people think about “what's my parenting style” or “I’m going to parent my kids in this way” but when you're in a marriage or any kind of partnership your parenting kids together, it’s always about co-parenting. Co-parenting is a term that they use for parents that are trying to parent kids when they are divorced or separated but it's a lot of the same kind of information, it's the same method. When you are parenting you want to be working together. Now does that mean you have to be on exactly the same page, exactly the same sentence on exactly the same word with the exact same punctuation? That’s just not reasonable; that doesn't happen. A lot of people misunderstand that when your parenting and you're on the same page that you have to behave with identical thinking, you have to think the same you, have to have the same method. You have to have the same everything; that your styles are identical. It’s just seamless. Also people think that when you’re on the same page, that means that you always agree but that’s just not true, it's not reasonable. If you’re parenting and two people are parenting there’s going to be a difference in style. There’s going to be a difference in what each parent experienced growing up. What you experience growing up is going to inform how you parent your kids. It's not reasonable to expect your partner to be on exactly the same page. So what does being on the same page actually mean? Being on the same page is more like you share the same values. Do you share the same morals? Do you want to generally parent in a more traditional and conservative method or do you want a parent in a more alternative and liberal method? Now if we have kids that are growing up with parents that have completely different styles It’s not necessarily going to mean that they're doomed forever, but It's going to make it a little bit harder.
Being On The Same Page About Parenting
So having some kind of basic foundational understanding is usually really helpful. So let's just assume that you have that. Then, what does it mean to be on the same page? An example that comes up a lot is the mom is really upset because her son is putting dishes in the dishwasher incorrectly. As far as the mom is concerned it’s done incorrectly so she gets upset because he’s been told many times specifically how to load the dishwasher. And for whatever reason her son is not doing it so she’s really upset. In this situation her husband would her husband be on the same page by agreeing with her? By saying “you should really listen to your mother. She’s, trying to tell you how follow the rules of the house, contribute, how to be a good citizen. She's worked hard to try to show you how to do this right” is that being on the same page? Maybe not because if your spouse or partner believes these things then yeah getting angry yet at your son for doing that is completely reasonable and he supports that then you're on the same page by saying “you know you should really listen to your mother.” Sometimes being on the same page means in that same situation that you're going to say well Mother I'm wondering if maybe, we could talk about this in a different way because I'm noticing you're really upset, it looks like our son is kind of upset, let's try to think about how we could do this differently. And son maybe okay you know Mom likes to have things done in a particular way, and this is not the way that she likes it and Mom is it okay if It's not a hundred percent perfect? Sometimes, people think that that's not being on the same page but ultimately if you're together your morals and your values are to teach your children to be proper citizens in the world and to make their own choices and to not be afraid to do things kind of outside of the lines then yelling and screaming at them for not putting the dishes away properly.
Parenting From a Bigger Picture
But by having this other conversation we're trying to get everybody on the same page, we talk about things in this family that sometimes things that we feel are important aren’t actually that important. Why is it so important to me that the dishes are put away in a certain way? They get clean regardless so that's something for me to work on not my son and it's a my son right, we're trying to teach him to be able to communicate and say “Mom you know I don't feel good about this conversation I could see your really upset and I don't like it when you yell at me. So can we talk about this instead of yelling? This is the kind of conversation we want although it’s really hard to get. Being on the same page doesn't always mean agreeing, If you see something happening and you're, not okay with it because it is not part of the big picture, moral and values that you’re trying to instill in your family then it's okay to say “no wait let's move over here so that we can be on the same page.” But you can't just allow your partner or anyone in the family to be disrespectful or to be disagreeable or to be rebellious that's not okay. If you're noticing that happening in your partnership while you're parenting we have to figure out how to get on the same page. How to have a bigger understanding of what are we trying to do here and then the methods and the way that we go about making these things happen. They're going to vary. If I am quick to become angry that’s something for me to work and I will try to communicate with my kids differently once that happens. But that still doesn't mean that my kids have to be okay with being yelled at and my partner has to help me to understand that because it’s not the kind of parenting that we want to do. That's not the kind of modeling that we want to make for our kids.
Parenting Patterns Learned from Your Parents
So when you think about parenting as a couple always keep in mind what are my kids learning from this experience when they have kids. What are they going to be doing to parent their kids based on what I'm doing right now because if you really think about it everything that you do innately comes from what you've learned from your parents. Those things come up automatically. We don't usually even think about “well I read in this book to do this and that” how we were parented just comes to the fore. So if we’re used to being parented in a way that is pretty strict and if we don't want to be strict, we have to really work at it because what we're used to is something very strict. The automatic response is always going to be strict. It takes a lot of work to parent especially if you want a parent in a way that is very different from how you were parented. Being on the same page means you've got to really talk with your partner. You've always got to be checking in to see “hey are we on the same page here? Do we want our kids to go to college? Do they go to college straight out of high? Is it a University or are they going to go community college. Each has a different perspective or different method on about how you are about homework, how you're about grades, all these different things. So if one parent is thinking oh yes my kids going to an Ivy League school and the other parent is saying well actually as community college is okay, they can just transfer then you’re going to have a problem because the parenting style is going to be very different and you're going to have a lot of conflict.
Co-parenting and Conflict: What’s Healthy and What’s Not
So when we're parenting, you want to remove a lot of the conflict. However you have to have some healthy conflict if you don't agree and you're not always going to agree. You also want to make sure that your kids understand that not everything in the world is nice and consistent. That's, just not reality. I just like to recommend that every couple out there talk to each other about what your big picture morals values needs and wants for your children are and make sure that you're on the same page there. And then as your parenting be tolerant when your partner does things that are not the way that you want them to be done. Now again if I'm yelling at my kids I would like my partner to step in and say “Whoa. That's not okay.” But if I’m just doing something in a way that he wouldn't do that’s It's not okay to say, “Well, you know you really should do it this way” It’s kind of like when you give the kids a bath you start with their head and your partner like well when I give the kids a bath I start with their feet so you really need to start with their feet” Well why do I need to start with their feet if I want to start with their head. It doesn't make a difference if you start at the head or the feet you can rationalize why one is better than the other or one is a healthier way to do this or a better way to do that. But ultimately it really doesn't matter. So think about the things that do matter. You want to keep your children safe. It's not okay to be on the same page when your spouse or partner is being violent abusive physically or emotionally. We're talking about screaming, hitting, belittling. All these things are 100 percent not okay and when your spouse or partner looks to you and says you need to back me up here you don't have to be cause what we're going to teach your kids is when That's happening if you back that your partner up that that means they need to take that and they need to accept it and that's not true. Then it's your job to also model as a parent how to address things when they're not going the way you want them too. It's great to have disagreements in front of your kids as long as it’s done appropriately. If you are yelling and screaming at each other that’s not such a good role model. But if you're having a very reasonable discussion about why bathing the baby from the head to the toes versus the toes to the head is you know better or different that’s okay. But if things start to heat up you might say “You know what it sounds like you’re getting a little bit loud but let's take a break right now and come back to this” That’s completely appropriate. We have to go into it understanding what the big picture is and that you’re both on the same side; you’re not working against each other. You’re, trying to help each other.
Then the question becomes “how do you do that?” It comes down to couples, counseling family therapy or maybe even a parenting coach because if you didn’t have the models growing up to teach you then you're going to need some help and this can be quite complicated. But it doesn't have to be. If you're having trouble getting on the same page, if you're having trouble parenting together then let's do something about that. To recap we discussed parenting, what it means to be on the same page, that It's not possible to have everything completely identical and that addressing parenting from a bigger picture like moral and values means being on the same page and then the details of how you do it that can be different and you need to be able to tolerate some of that difference as long as It's done appropriately. And if you have any difficulties please Do yourself and your kids a huge favor and go to couples, counseling and or family counseling Let us help you figure this out because It's, not easy.