When You and Your Spouse Disagree on Parenting

When You and Your Spouse Disagree on Parenting

Erin Burt

For the life of me, I wish I could help a sister out.

By that, I mean I wish I had some magical advice, a pill to take, a breathing exercise, a Hail Mary of any kind, to help resolve the inevitable marital discord surrounding parenting. Not only for all of the women around me, but for myself as well.

In the short five years I’ve been a mom, some of the best (see: WORST) arguments in my marriage have been about parenting. We have gone to counseling separately as well as together and, at the end of it all, some of my major takeaways are things we have vowed NOT to do. 

  1. No serious talks at 1 AM. Maybe the time seems arbitrary to you. Maybe 1 AM is great for your marriage and there’s a different time that should be off-limits. But, when your toddler is throwing up all night and the baby wants to breastfeed, it’s just not a good idea to broach the topic of sleep-training. My husband and I will go from nice to Beelzebub in sixty seconds or less if we feel the slightest bit of provocation in the middle of the night.
  2. Also… no serious talks during a tantrum. Be it one of my three children (or myself…), discussing disciplinary tactics during a tantrum is just bad-timing. Everyone’s exhausted emotionally and tapped out and we are all just using out last lick of patience to survive. Tantrum talks are OFF-LIMITS.
  3. Family meetings. This is admittedly something we haven’t been as diligent about lately, but that I would love to reinstate. Pick a time of the week that you don’t already have plans. We chose Sunday afternoons. Right now, our “family meetings” are just us since it’s during naps. Our marriage counselor advised we have a specified time to neutrally discuss things that have been bothering us: recent arguments, issues with the kids, etc. We make it a safe zone: anything can be said and no one can get defensive or angry. I’ll be honest that it’s easier said than done, but it’s needed.
  4. Pretend this is forever. Take a step back, y’all. Someday, the kids will sleep. Someday, you won’t be cleaning urine off the floor (because hopefully someone else will be able to). Take a step back and call this season what it is: fleeting. Ephemeral. Short-term. Don’t spend it fighting.

So, in solidarity, I say: Soldier on. Pick your parenting battles and don’t die on a silly hill. Chances are, in a few years you’ll wonder why that thing three years ago mattered so much.

Kara Garis is a cloth diapering, baby wearing, semi-crunchy mama to two active boys and a baby girl. She lives with her husband in Oklahoma and loves running, cooking, traveling, reading and teaching herself how to braid. She blogs at karagaris.com.

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