Each parent has his or her own ideas about what is good for the child. When these beliefs clash, disagreements arise, and these disagreements lead to arguments which indirectly affect the wellbeing of the child.
This often happens when two people come from different family backgrounds. Each parent may have been raised in a particular manner, and although these differences don't matter before children are born, when children come into the picture and parents try to impose their values and beliefs on the children, the differences suddenly come into the forefront.
When are Disagreements Minimal?
In some cases child rearing is left to the mother, and she makes all the major decisions with regard to whether a child should be allowed to go somewhere or do something. In such cases the other parent doesn't interfere, and there are no clashes.
This may not, however, be the best situation. If every time a child asks one parent for permission to do something, and the other parent constantly replies "Ask your mother," the parent unconsciously distances himself from the child at some level.
Effects of Disagreement between Parents
When parents disagree about how they should raise their children, they add to marital stress. In fact, often one of the reasons many marriages break up is because couples have strong disagreements with regard to child rearing. These differences escalate into arguments and fights, and gradually partners drift apart which is not good for the wellbeing of the child.
How can Parents Avoid Disagreements?
The best thing to do would be to come to a compromise. Ideally you should have already established and negotiated a set of rules applicable in various situations - and, do it in writing! First, make a list of the aspects on which you DO agree. Perhaps both of you agree that children should be punished for wrong behaviour, and that grounding a child is good punishment. Write it down. Are both of you against beating your child? Write this down too, so if either parent hits a child, the other parent is justified in telling him not to do so.
1. Dealing with Disagreements on Small Issues
How many extra classes would you want your child to join? Perhaps one parent feels that it is unfair to burden a child, while the other is keen to expose him to more activities. Decide what you would do in such a situation. Would you give your child the choice? Or, will you fix a mutually agreeable limit as to how many extra-curricular activities your child will participate in?
2. Finding Solution Mutually
Thus, so also list the aspects on which you disagree. Voice your disagreements with respect, and give reasons as to why you feel a particular way. Discuss your own childhood, and talk about how you felt when parents acted in a certain manner. Realise also that just because you felt a certain way doesn't mean everyone will do so, so do pay attention to the opinions and feelings of your partner as well.
Naturally these rules can easily be changed over time if both parents believe that the change is for the best.
Couples often quarrel over little things, and these little issues escalate into major arguments. Child rearing is just one of those issues, but if you can work out something, it will mean one less issue to argue about!
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- The Indiaparenting Team