Are you tired of fighting with your husband over parenting? Do you wish you could help your marriage while also being a good parent? This comprehensive guide will help you and your husband get on the same page and approach parenting as a team.
My husband Josh and I agree on a lot of things: politics, morals, how to treat people. So we were surprised to find that we didn’t always agree when it came to parenting.
We found it very hard to disagree on parenting. But the more Josh and I talked about our viewpoints and disagreements, the more we learned. We learned about each other. We learned how to be better parents.
I’m not saying I have all of the answers. But the information below is what Josh and I have personally implemented. It’s worked for us and we hope it works for you.
***Note: This blog post is packed with information. So feel free to click on the links in the Table of Contents below to jump around.***
- Can different parenting styles ruin a marriage?
- Does parenthood affect marriage?
- What to do when you disagree with your spouse about parenting
- When parents disagree on discipline
- Common parenting disagreements…and how to fix them!
- How to get on the same page with your spouse about parenting
- Final thoughts: how to stop fighting with your husband over parenting
Can different parenting styles ruin a marriage?
What can happen with two parents have conflicting parenting styles?
When you and your spouse disagree on parenting, it can be very tough. But different parenting styles will absolutely not ruin a marriage…as long as you don’t let it. You both need to respect each other’s parenting styles. Great communication will help you navigate these tough situations.
I wanted to start off the blog post with this section in particular because I wanted to give you hope. It’s easy to be fearful of different parenting styles ruining marriage. But it doesn’t matter how different you and your husband are when it comes to parenting. As long as you both have the kids’ best interests at heart, you’ll be just fine.
Take the time to work through this challenge together. See it as an opportunity to grow your marriage. If you put in the work that I describe in this blog post, you’ll grow in respect for each other too.
There are times when my husband and I don’t agree on parenting. But we don’t let it negatively affect our marriage. We have worked through each issue and you can too.
Does parenthood affect marriage?
Parenthood absolutely affects marriage. How could it not? Children change so many of the dynamics of your relationship.
I asked 133 married couples if they thought parenthood affected marriage. An overwhelming 97% of people answered yes.
So I’m definitely not alone in my thinking!
The question shouldn’t be about whether or not it affects marriage. You need to ask yourself HOW it affects your marriage. When a husband and wife disagree on parenting, it doesn’t have to affect the marriage badly.
What to do when you disagree with your spouse about parenting
Here’s how to resolve parenting conflicts
If you can’t stop fighting with your husband over parenting, you’ll want to read this next section. Parenting disagreements between spouses can be handled with respect and love.
I recommend that you follow these steps in order. But please feel free to mix them up depending on the situation.
1. Believe in the good
Before we go any further, we need to start with the most important tip:
Remember that you and your husband have the kids’ best interests at heart. Even if you have conflicting parenting styles, your husband is coming from a loving place.
Focus on the good. I can’t stress this enough. Your husband is not a bad person. He’s not trying to undermine you.
Before you go any further, remind yourself of all the reasons why your husband is a great partner. This will help change your mindset and make a huge difference when resolving these fights.
2. Do some inner reflection
There will be times when you want to parent a certain way because you read a tip in a parenting book. In these situations, there’s no emotional attachment to your side. You’d simply like to try a technique.
But some parenting issues will go deeper for you. It’s important to recognize when this happens. You need to talk through it with your husband so he can understand the significance to you.
Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Why am I so passionate about my side of this issue?
- Does this conflict bring up deep moral issues that I’m very passionate about?
- Does this issue bring up past grievances from my childhood?
3. Talk to your husband
Now that you’ve done some thinking, it’s time to talk to your husband. Try to set some ground rules before talking about parenting issues. Here are some ideas:
- We will listen to each other’s side.
- We will not talk over each other.
- If one of us is getting too angry or frustrated, we will pause the conversation.
- We will begin the conversation with 3 reasons why the other person is a great parenting partner.
- We will be respectful to each other.
4. Try to see the situation from his point of view
Put yourself in your husband’s shoes. Why does he want to approach a parenting issue in a particular way? If you can’t answer this question, it’s time to talk to your husband again.
There have been times when I’ve disagreed with Josh and thought I couldn’t be persuaded otherwise. But after talking to him and seeing the issue from his point of view, I’ve been able to completely change my mind.
5. Give his way a chance
One of the most important ways to respect your husband when you disagree on parenting is to give his way a chance. Remember that he has the kid’s best interests at heart. Could it really hurt anything to try things his way? You might even find that he was right!
When our son was a baby, Josh was very adamant that we should teach him to play by himself. We would put our son in his pack and play with toys and not interact with him. I’ll be honest: I didn’t think babies could play alone. I thought they always had to be entertained.
But I was so wrong! Our son is now 5 and is the most creative when he plays alone in his room. We’ve really enjoyed getting to see what he comes up with when left to his imagination.
I’m so glad Josh had the foresight to teach our son this skill at such a young age. And I’m even more glad I gave Josh’s way a chance.
6. Ask for your way to be given a chance too
Make sure you are also trying your way out too. Depending on the issue, you could have the opportunity to give both of your ways a chance.
If that’s not possible then make sure you are taking turns. Maybe you’ve given your way a chance the last two issues. So now it’s your husband’s turn. And vice versa. Just try to be fair.
7. Talk about how different approaches went
After implementing one person’s plan of action, reflect on how it’s going. Sit down with your husband and talk through these questions:
- Did it work well for your kids?
- Did it work well for you and your husband?
- If this was your husband’s idea, can you admit if he was right? (If you can’t, there’s probably a whole other issue going on there.)
- If the approach wasn’t quite right, what changes can you make going forward?
Make sure to take some time and praise your husband for his input and good ideas. This positive reinforcement will make him feel valued.
When parents disagree on discipline
It can be so tough when parents don’t agree on parenting. But the topic of discipline gets a lot deeper. It’s not just about whether or not your kids should get an allowance. Discipline (or lack thereof) can shape a child’s personality.
You can still follow the steps above when it comes to disagreements on discipline, with a few changes:
- Go slower: With discipline, it’s not easy to see the effects (good or bad) right away. It takes time and consistent implementation to see if it’s working. So be patient with each other’s approaches.
- Don’t undermine each other: If your husband has sent your kid to time-out, don’t undermine that by letting your child off early. This will cause discord between you and your husband. It will also send mixed signals to your kids about who they should listen to.
Common parenting disagreements…and how to fix them!
There are so many parenting decisions to discuss, which can lead to a lot of disagreements with your spouse. Here are some of the most common parenting disagreements and ideas on how to fix them.
1. How to raise the kids
The issue: Should you be strict or lenient? Friends or authority figures? This sets the foundation for how you’ll raise your kids so it’s important to be on the same page on this one.
How to fix it: Talk about it! Since this is such a large issue, it’ll take several ongoing conversations to “fix” this parenting disagreement. Here are some of the topics you’ll want to talk about:
- How did your parents raise you? What would you do differently?
- What reading have you done on this topic? Are there any parenting techniques you’d like to try? (gentle parenting, authoritative parenting, permissive parenting are just some of the many techniques)
- Have either of you given any kind of thought to how you want to raise the kids? Or do you just want to “wing it”?
- What common ground can you find?
- What are some deal breakers when it comes to parenting? For example, some people don’t believe in time-outs and are wholeheartedly against them. Make these kinds of things known to your husband.
2. When one parent does all the parenting
The issue: Are you the stay-at-home parent and feel like you do all the parenting? Are you tired of one-sided parenting? Does your husband think “my wife won’t let me parent”? Or do you find yourself thinking, “I hate my husband’s parenting style”? Has your husband checked out of parenting?
How to fix it: Get to the heart of the issue. Why is one parent doing all of the parenting? Is it because one parent is more “controlling” and has to have their way? In this case, go back to the tips above.
If you think your husband doesn’t enjoy parenting, find out why. Is he afraid of failing? There might be a lot beneath this issue that you can work together to overcome.
If you stay at home with the kids and your spouse works a lot, you might feel like you do all of the parenting. If this is the case, talk to your spouse about it. Do they want to be more involved? You could include them in some of the issues or decisions with the kids.
Update your spouse throughout the workday with news on the kids. Involve your spouse so they begin to feel more like a parent. If they don’t step up and begin getting more involved in parenting, there might be other issues going on.
3. Whether or not religion will be a part of your kids’ upbringing
The issue: You and your husband don’t share the same religious beliefs. So what will you teach your kids about religion?
How to fix it: Again, you’ll need to compromise here. What might end up happening is that you “lightly” introduce your kids to both religions. Once they’re old enough, they can decide on their own which one speaks to them.
4. How to feed the kids
The issue: Do you make your kids clean their plates? Do you allow them to have input on what they eat at meals?
How to fix it: Find the common ground. For example, let’s say one of you wants to make your kids clean their plates. Compromise by not serving large portions so it’s not too daunting for them. You can always get them more food.
This is a tough issue because it’ll have just as much to do with your kids as it does your parenting style/preference. And what works for one of your kids may not work with the other(s). So be flexible.
5. How many toys to buy
The issue: Do you feel like you are spoiling your child with how many toys they have? Or do you think you don’t spend enough?
How to fix it: Set an annual budget and stick to it! If you find it hard to stick to it, get creative. Do some toy swaps with neighbors or hide toys in the closet so you can rotate “new” toys. There is so much you can do to buy fewer toys.
6. Screen time
The issue: At what age should you begin to allow screen time? How much screen time is appropriate?
How to fix it: Decide on a number for daily screen time and see how it fits in with your family. Is your child suddenly acting out more? Maybe you’ve been giving too much screen time. Make adjustments as you go along to see what works for your child.
Focus on the quality of screen time as well. Is your child watching something educational? You and your husband might be ok with a little extra screen time if your child is learning something.
Be kind to each other on this issue. There are days when I’m exhausted and have reached my limits. The tv might be on a little more than usual these days. And that’s ok. Josh doesn’t get upset with me about this. He understands how exhausting the kids can be.
How to get on the same page with your spouse about parenting
Find the common ground and stop fighting with your husband over parenting!
Agree to disagree
There will be times when there’s no clear answer. You’ve tried it both your and your husband’s ways. Neither seems to be the clear winner. So what do you do?
It’s completely ok to admit that you both have different ways of handling things.
Try to be objective
If you’re too emotional, parenting disagreements can quickly become heated arguments. Don’t let it get to that. You don’t want your husband to shut you out because you’re angry or sad. You want to be able to calmly discuss the topic together.
If it’s not possible to be objective (maybe a particular conflict brings up deeper issues), express this to your husband. Tell him that you can’t be objective. Try to tell him why. You need to have emotional intimacy to be able to have discussions like these.
Don’t be vindictive
If you tried your husband’s way of doing things and it didn’t work, don’t be vindictive or rude about it. Likewise, don’t say things like, “We should have done it my way.” Spite has no place in a marriage.
If you find yourself acting like this, take a step back and try to figure out why. Maybe the issue was more important to you than you first realized.
Don’t put your kids in the middle of it
You and your husband need to be a united front for your kids. They need a strong foundation to feel safe and secure. So don’t let them be a part of your parenting disagreements. You and your husband need to be able to talk through these issues without the input of your kids.
Your kids need to see united front parenting to grow in a healthy environment. That doesn’t mean you and your husband will always agree. In fact, I would argue that it’s ok if you kids know that you don’t always agree with each other. Model healthy conflict resolution for them so they can take it into their future relationships.
Aghogho, a mother of 2, has been married for 3 years. She shares the same thoughts on this topic:
“We have learned overtime not to challenge the others parenting tactics in front of the kids. This undermines our authority, confuses the kids and doesn’t help us present a united front. We wait until we have a moment alone to address our disagreements and come to a reasonable compromise. We always remember that we’re a team working together to help our children grow.”
Final thoughts: how to stop fighting with your husband over parenting
This is definitely one of those posts I’ll be updating as time passes and my kids get older. I’m learning all of the time. As I learn and discover more ways to grow closer in my marriage through parenting, I’ll update this post. My hope is that others will benefit from our experiences.
Let me know in the comments what you think about my tips! Feel free to add your own experiences to help other readers out.