Did you ever try to play your parents off each other to get your own way when you were a kid? I did, I would ask Mum if I could do/have something and if she did not agree I would turn the ‘extra cute’ button on and smooze my Dad. Being his ‘Blossom’ had its power and he would often say yes without checking with what Mum decided. Feeling victorious I would skip off thinking I ‘had it in the bag’.
There would be parental murmurings and before long Dad would have to renege on his decision. Not a win- win for any of us; my parents were not ‘United’ in their parenting decisions and had not taken the necessary time to discuss values and tactics to support each other and give me clear messages and boundaries. They were great parents and by the time I was a teenager they finally consulted and supported each other regarding most parenting decisions. I was not happy about this collusion.
As your child did not arrive with a ‘How to’ manual or map, you will need to create your own. As a parent steering down life’s road, a positive goal to aim for is to share the wheel, and focus on creating an open and honest relationship with your partner or support person.
Staying on the same path, moving in the same direction, will assist in preventing confusion, crashes and ‘hitting the wall‘. When parents are united they utilise the same map and allow for deviations and adjust by finding a more suitable path, supporting each other along the way.
Be mindful of the roles you may play within your parenting relationships, and have the courage to allow for new roles to form if necessary. Be in touch with your strengths and how you choose to express and react to different situations. This concept of parenting allows your child’s journey to be paved with opportunities. It allows them to develop and reinforce their sense of identity and security as they grow in a loving, nurturing, safe environment.
These following points are suggestions to enhance your skills in creating a united parenting front:
- Cultivate respect for each other’s differences; remember what attracted you to each other when you met. It is said that opposites attract.
- Give yourself time to adjust to new experiences and different thoughts and feelings. As you know by now parenting offers many challenges that give us the opportunity to grow; whether we like it or not.
- Create a safe, healthy environment with supportive boundaries to enhance freedom of expression.
- Be responsible for your own reactions. Keep away from blame.
- Consider the concept that mistakes are an opportunity to learn how to do things differently next time.
- Forgive yourself and your partner for not being able to mind read and be perfect.
- Ask specifically for what you want, before stress causes the kah-kah to hit the fan. Once again, your partner is not a mind reader.
- Hold each other in respect, especially when your partner may be vulnerable. Take the wheel for awhile and offer them some ‘time out’ to fill up their tank and express how they feel without judgment.
- Make it a priority that both of you have specific time to ‘fill your own cups’, and then you will have more patience and compassion for each other.
- Focus on each other’s strengths, and what values you both desire and choose for your family.
- When you feel scared or overwhelmed about your role as a parent, ask for love, understanding and a really big cuddle. Keep touching, it is very powerful.
- When having a discussion use constructive questions and statements, coming from a responsible ‘I’ position and not blaming, or pointing the finger with ‘YOU………!’.
- Remember the importance of body language, eye contact and facial expression, as well as tone of voice, in your communication. Only 7% of communication is verbal, 38% tonality and 55% physiology (body language).
- When talking about important matters; BE PRESENT and pay attention to your partner, NO interrupting, or jumping ahead with what you want to say back to them. Support and reassure them by using lots of eye contact and touch. Turn off the TV.
- When a situation needs to be addressed, organizing an appropriate time for both of you is beneficial. Arrange a date together if that is what it takes. If emotions are running high take time out and resolve the issue when everyone is feeling calmer.
- Seek help in healing old sub-conscious wounds and programming that can contribute to re-active behaviours that do not serve you or your family.
- Keep your sense of humor.
- Date nights are very important so you can focus on being a ‘couple’ and keep the romance alive. What a great gift and role modeling for your children.
- Even if you both fall asleep on the lounge from fatigue at least you’re together
- Be open to change, and different points of view. Remember that your children adore you and are very forgiving if you don’t always ‘get it right’.
Here are 3 extra points that will help each person to feel heard and acknowledged when having a discussion.
INTENTIONAL DIALOGUE. Three important steps
MIRRORING: Checking with the other person to make sure you understand them correctly. Not adding or taking away dialogue or presuming what they are saying.
VALIDATING: Letting the other person know that it is all right for them to have thoughts and feelings even if you do not agree, or it does not make sense to you.
EMPATHISING: Recognising the other person’s feelings and emotions, feel what they are feeling, and express that as well as you can.