Golden Rules for United Parenting

Golden Rules for United Parenting

Use these tips to help keep your parenting styles on track.

Good communication, consistent messages and reliable support are not only good for your children, but it can help take some of the hard work out of being parents, too. Those days when good united parenting meant sharing the diaper-changing duties might seem a long, long time ago, but however old your children are, maintaining a united “mom and dad’ front remains an important key to a happy home.

Even if we’re lucky enough to enjoy a fairly stable home life, none of us have an idealistic TV-perfect family dynamic — and we’d be lying to ourselves if we said that raising kids is easy. That’s why it’s good to remind ourselves of a few golden rules.

We Two are One
Whether you fell in love with your spouse because you’re very similar in personality, or because “opposites attract,” it’s worth thinking about what you originally liked in each other. You may not be as carefree as you were before you became parents, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun any more. Going out on a date, or just dedicating one night as “date-night” and watching a movie will help create a better basis for family life.

After all, if the children see mom and dad enjoying an experience as equal partners, they will respect the fact that you both have an equal authority within their own lives.

Good Communication
Whether you have one child or six, it’s vital from day one that you both know what the other thinks or expects. You can’t disappear off to the bedroom to sort the laundry for hours on end while your husband’s literally left holding the baby — not knowing if he’s going to be arranging the next baby feeding.

Hopefully, by the time your children are at school, you will have a plan of action! If not, you may be facing hectic weekday mornings become and frustratingly short weekends. It doesn’t have to mean you write a timetable on a whiteboard in the kitchen, but if you do want to disappear to the bedroom to get that laundry sorted, flag this up in advance — and work it into the plans you all have.

Even toddlers will go to one parent and then the other if the first doesn’t give them the toy or the treat they want. As your children get older, they will be able to use a lack of


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communication between you to work the whole “Well, mom said it was OK!” trick.

Being Consistent
If you both agree on a course of action for your children — a limit on sweets or clothes allowance, for example — both need to be consistent. If one of you says one thing and the other says something different, it’s easy for your children to use it to get their own way. That’s not to say that children are inherently manipulative, but they seek guidelines, and until they’re of an age where they will learn by their own long-term experience, you need to be a united voice, offering the guidelines you both feel are right as parents.

If there is an issue on which you both simply do not agree, it’s important to settle your differences away from your children. Sometimes we might quarrel about an issue when our guard is down — perhaps on a car ride or when we’re on vacation — but if you both “regroup” later and support each other, rather than openly criticizing, you’ll get back on track.

It’s OK to Play Good Cop/Bad Cop!
If one of you tends to be stricter than the other, it’s not necessarily a bad thing so long as you both give your children guidelines within the same boundaries.

Understand and appreciate each other’s point of view. Let your spouse know what you told your child (and expect the same kind of advanced notification) any time there’s a decision that needs both of your approvals.

Open lines of communication between your spouse and you are key to keeping decisions consistent. Not only will your children begin to understand what’s expected of them, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of your spouse, too.

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