The building clash was almost inevitable. The 3-year-old painted the toilet, his dad reacted, there were tantrums and tears and eventually a serious timeout.
But the main event had nothing much to do with the colorful commode or the strong-willed youngster who created it. It took place much later, after the child’s mother came home and didn’t agree with how her spouse handled the situation.
Those types of misunderstandings happen in parenthood, and they may increase now that one half is at home with the kids most of the time while the other is away.
When a dad decides to take on the full-time caregiver role, he probably expects to be dealing with his kids over discipline, manners and other parenting situations. He may not expect to relive each situation with his better half every night after the kids are in bed.
There isn’t time for consultations every time a parenting issue comes up, so the two sides need to figure out a way to get on the same page.Communication is Key
Talking it out is the best way to know where each other is coming from on the parenting front and to avoid conflict in the future. It’s entirely possible the two of you have never talked about the issue before.
Be open-minded. Your way may not be the best way.
And realize that neither of you will always do things the same way – you probably don’t always cook or clean in the same manner, but the tasks get done, right? The same can be true for parenting.
If you are aware of how your wife would want to handle certain situations and she knows how exactly you stray from that, it could end much of the conflict. Talk about why you make certain decisions and what each of you would like to do better.
Discuss the pros and cons of how you would handle different situations, and try merging the ideas to come up with the best results.
If the need arises to use discipline during the day, talk to your wife about it later and be open about what happened. Go over the good and bad of the situation, if needed. That will help avoid conflict in the future.
Also don’t be afraid to contact her at work when something pops up. She certainly will appreciate the involvement and want to be a part of the process.Make a Plan and Be Consistent
The two of you my not always have the same parenting styles, but you have to agree when discipline is needed. If you get on your preschooler for eating cookies and spilling crumbs all over in front of the TV, and his mom lets him do it, that sends a mixed message to the child.
Make sure you both agree on the rules of the house. Then don’t stray from them. How are the kids going to learn they are doing something wrong, if their parents aren’t clear if it is wrong?
Then decide what types of situations warrant certain punishments. Get together and choose the appropriate punishments and discipline are in those situations.
Those consequences need to be implemented every time without hesitation. The kids will still try to push limits, but at least they’ll know there will be a reaction for their action.Follow Through
Obviously kids are going to do things that surprise you and that you haven’t planned for.
Don’t make the situation worse by adding your own twists. If you fly off the handle and punish in a way you never have, chances of more conflict when your spouse comes home will become greater.
Keep with your general plan and use discipline the two of you have agreed upon that you think best fits the situation. Just make sure you keep your spouse in the loop and include her in the process.
You already have your hands full with those part-time unruly children. So it’s best to avoid more fireworks later that night if possible.