When couples decide to have children differences with parenting beliefs can put a large strain on the relationship. In this short article, I will cover some of the problems my clients seem to face. Couples may notice that their relationship seemed fine before becoming parents and now that they have children, they can barely agree on anything.
When two people come together, they bring with them their own experience of being brought up by parents or parent figures. This brings different opinions on raising children, which then leads to a communication breakdown.
Discipline is one common issue that couples bring, agreeing on discipline is really import for children to know where they stand, and in doing so feeling safe. If one caregiver is saying one thing and the other something different the child can feel confused and disoriented. For discipline to remain effective the parents must be on the same page. It’s important to agree on what form of discipline is needed and for how long that way the child knows where they stand, and the couple remain a team.
Bedtimes are another topic couples bring to sessions, agreeing on what is an appropriate time for their children to go to bed. This again reinforces the importance of the couple being solid as a team, if two people are not in agreement there will be inconsistencies for the child, and anger and resentment between the couple.
Meals times are another important part of a child’s structure and another possible source of disagreements for parents. Issues include agreeing on how often a child can snack or what food is allowed.
It is useful to guide a couple through and help them see the built-up anger that has formed in the years before coming to counselling. We can look at what changes need to be made to bring them together. Often by the time couples come to therapy all they can see in each other is anger, resistance to change and bitterness because they both have strong and valid opinions of how to raise children.
I work with proven techniques on how to discipline children while always feeling safe. I will help each person explore how their past experiences both positive and negative are influencing their beliefs on parenting their child. We are not talking about changing parenting ideals completely but just meeting in the middle together, by doing this the couple will feel less angry and more open for time with each other like they used to before the parenting problems arose.
A continual spiral can occur when a child senses the parents are not in harmony with each other, so their way of reacting to this is by acting up and misbehaving, which in turn puts more pressure on the relationship causing more arguments and disruption. Once a couple agrees on parenting ideals the child will feel safer and more secure, the behaviour will subside, and the couple will have more quality time for themselves.