Have you ever had a moment when your child makes a poor choice and you can’t agree with your partner about how to deal with the problem? It can be really frustrating when we can’t get a united front or agree about how to discipline our kids. It’s major source of stress in relationships and a top reason parents look for ways to get a united front.

There are good reasons why parents disagree in their parenting. One main reason is to due the parenting style we have inherited. It is the blueprint no one chooses, it’s what we have grown up with. Even when we share the same values, we are parenting with a person who has had an entirely different set of experiences when they were a child. These experiences shape our responses in our parenting now and they are often give very different results.

There are unexpressed hopes and fears that drive our behaviour. When this happens parents can easily get into roles where one parent is the “good cop” wanting to keep relationship sweet while the other parent lays down the law as the “bad cop”. Strict parents (bad cop) tell me that they want to make sure their children achieve high standards and don’t shirk responsibilities. Good cops can be afraid of losing their relationship with their child. This parenting style can be driven by a lack confidence that they will not be able to follow through on rules that have been set. Whatever our main parenting style is we can find ourselves moving from one style to another, according to our mood or energy level. We can move from being overly harsh to being extra nice to make ourselves feel better when we shout. The parenting style which kids benefit most from is one which combines structure and healthy limits with a lot of empathy. The parent with clear, reasonable boundaries and one who communicates well with high levels of empathy is called the authoritative style of parent. It takes skill and practice to do this and it’s much easier to say than to do.

Getting a united front by understanding your child’s temperament

Getting a united front is easier when we truly understand our child’s temperament. This can help us get unlocked and develop more flexible thinking in our parenting. A strict parent who wants children to behave appropriately in the world, is a parent who wants to win. This parent can see a problem, when a child is not behaving well, as one of defiance.  We want what we want and our child wants to have it their way too. In this situation where a parent is locked into position it can cause a lot of resistance from children and no one is going to move forward.

One of the trickiest things for parents to understand is that it’s our job to look at things from our child’s point of view and to help our particular child accept reasonable limits. A united front is easier to get when both parents have a good understanding of their child’s temperament. A child who has a strong need for fairness will not always see that our reasonable limits are fair. To them they have little power over their situation and they will be very resistant. This is a child who isn’t going to back down easily can be involved in constant micro-fights with their parents. If you are living in a house like this it can be toxic and daily life is unpleasant. There can be explosive meltdowns. https://gtgparenting.co.nz/2019/03/31/building-flexible-brains/

A united front is easier to achieve and a calm home is possible when we understand our child’s temperament better. This knowledge helps up to see it from the child’s perspective. Parents are more likely to agree on how to solve problems and make progress, rather than taking the “my way or the highway” approach or simply giving in because it’s easier than having a fuss.

If you want to reduce the stress in your parenting then getting a united front will help make a big difference. When we understand that our child is not doing things on purpose or to wind us up and that their behaviour is caused by their particular temperament we can move forward. Getting a united front in this way will help to reduce the stress in our parenting and make family life easier for everyone. Here’s a video I made which also helps with more on this topic. https://www.facebook.com/goodtogreatparenting/videos/702637913760002

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