It’s hard to be a parent (but also wonderful). It’s hard be a partner (also wonderful…with the right one.). And it’s really hard to co-parent with that partner. Well, of course it is! Take 2 intelligent adults, with different backgrounds and different viewpoints, but the same amount of exhaustion, and it’s not always an easy fit. But these ten tips might help:
1. Back each other up.
Make it a rule that if one parent sets a consequence for a child, the other parent must back them up, even if they do not agree. Otherwise, let the manipulation begin!
2. Don’t fight in front of the kids.
It’s scary, it’s confusing, and is not what you are trying to teach. It’s okay to disagree and calmly find a solution. But stop if your discussion gets heated.
3. Who feels most strongly about this issue?
If you and your partner really are on different pages on something, but one parent feels very passionately, then let that parent make the call. You’ll get to next time.
4. “Would I want to be consulted before an answer is given?”
Older children often ask only one parent for permission to do something. Before answering, ask yourself this question. If the answer is NO, then go ahead and answer your child. But if the answer is YES, then it’s only fair to consult your partner before answering your child.
5. Empathize with your child, but support your partner.
Let your child know you understand their feelings of frustration, but see #1 above.
6. Consider the way you and your partner were raised.
Each of you were raised differently, and that affects your views on raising your child. Be respectful of each other’s opinions and families.
7. Not everything is an emergency and not everything is urgent.
Take a time-out if you need one. Put it off until tomorrow. Wait until you’re less exhausted/annoyed and talk about it later.
8. Listen actively, not passively.
Truly listen to what your partner is saying, and try to understand. No one can let go and move on until they feel heard and understood.
9. Talk politely and calmly.
Talk to your partner how you want them to talk with you. It’s really hard to hear someone when they are yelling and sarcastic.
10. Remember that the days are long but the years are short.
So many of the things that seem so important today will seem much less so one week, one month, and one year from now. Take a deep breath, mellow out, and enjoy the journey.