Making parenting teamwork successful requires building a solid foundation with your partner. I’m sharing tips on how to parent as a team effectively.
Sometimes I struggle with parenting. If you want the truth, I’m fairly certain I wouldn’t be able to handle my two high-needs children on my own. It’s not just important that my husband and I parent as a team, but we must make sure our parenting teamwork is successful.
Raising our children our way in hopes of creating the people we hope they become requires input from both of us. That means we both must work together. We both have to decide what our goals are for our children. And, we have to view each other as team mates in order to make it work.
And part of what I learned in 8 years of marriage, is that by parenting as a team, we also strengthen our marriage.
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If you want to make parenting teamwork successful, you have to start at the foundation. Discuss, together, how you want to approach the various aspects of parenting. Come to agreements about how you wish to raise your family, but sometimes that means you have to agree to disagree. Parenting is hard work, but it can be made easier to deal with when you and your partner are on the same page.
Decide on house rules you both can agree on.
For my husband and I, house rules are pretty basic and are very similar to the expectations we have of our children outside of the home. Running, throwing balls, and screaming are for outside activity. We ask our children not to antagonize the dog and we request they use basic manners. Please and thank you are important. And, we are adamantly against hitting or kicking to get our point across.
Deciding on house rules you both will enforce will help start the foundation for making parenting teamwork successful.
Agree on, and enforce, expectations you have of your children outside of the home.
Most of our house rules follow us everywhere we go. We expect that our children use their manners and respect other people’s belongings. We use inside voices in buildings and save loud, rough play for outdoors. Whining and crying isn’t an acceptable way to get anything from anyone.
Discuss health concerns and how you both believe in raising healthy kids.
Generally, I lean more toward the natural side of the coin. I don’t wish to take the kids to the doctor over every ailment, reserving doctor’s visits for health concerns I can’t get a handle on myself.
I ensure my children eat generally healthy food, but I believe in balance, too. Because my husband and I aren’t against treats as a means to reward our children (or just make them smile), I balance things out with organic choices when feasible.
My husband doesn’t have such a strong desire for organics or natural treatments, but we can agree that if I can run the health aspect as I see fit so long as it works. And, I will seek treatment from a conventional doctor when necessary.
Back each other up
If the kids request something, it’s important you’re both aware of the request. Kids learn early who they can go to in order to get the answer they desire. In order to ensure parenting teamwork is successful, you both need to act as one entity in situations like this.
We’re (almost) always certain to check with each other to make sure one of the kids isn’t trying to play games to get their way. Either that, or we’ll ask the kids what the other parent said.
Generally speaking, if your child admits to asking the other parent, they probably didn’t receive the answer they were hoping for. Do yourself and your partner a favor, and be sure before you answer.
Decide Together How You’ll Discipline
You don’t have to agree on everything, but make sure you both give each other a chance to try your tactics and prove whether or not they work.
I didn’t believe in spankings when I had my first baby. I thought for sure I’d be able to talk sense into her, but when the terrible twos came along and logical discussions and redirections didn’t work to correct her hitting me, my husband spanked her. It took one time and she didn’t hit me again, as opposed to the weeks of trying to be logical.
The truth is, parenting isn’t one size fits all. Each kid will respond differently to different punishments and you must be willing to accommodate for it.
Growing up, I wanted to be spanked because I was able to go about my business right away. Of course, that also meant I would go right back to doing whatever it is I wasn’t supposed to do. But, sitting me in a corner was torture and I would think twice before doing anything that would land me there again.
My brother, on the other hand, was content with time out in a corner, which never prevented him from doing whatever it was he shouldn’t have been doing. Unlike me, spankings made him think.
I fully believe our children need to fear the punishment, but that doesn’t mean you have to resort to spankings. There are all kinds of ways to discipline children, but you need to know what works.
In our house, we currently use a consequence jar full of consequences that our daughter fears. Things like no electronics for a day and putting herself to bed are located in the jar for her to pull at random. We carefully selected consequences that she doesn’t like, but at the same time, she mainly fears the consequence jar because it’s random. We’re not doling out the consequence ourselves and we can keep our emotions out of the disciplinary system.
Don’t question or correct the other parent in front of the children
You’re never going to fully agree over every situation that comes your way. There will always be something that makes you question each other, but the time to approach that moment isn’t in front of the children, especially in an instance where one of you is taking authority.
Three things can happen if you question the other parent in front of the kids:
- You may negate that parent’s authority to the kids.
- Your partner may feel disrespected and/or become defensive.
- It may cause an argument at an inappropriate time.
If something comes up that you’re concerned about or disagree with, hold the discussion until after the kids go to bed or at a more convenient time when the children are in another room.
If (and when) this situation comes up, it’s best to approach this carefully. Don’t go into it with the attitude that your partner was wrong. Instead, ask questions and see if you or the other parent believe the situation could have been handled differently. It’s okay to express your opinions of the situation, but steer clear of using words and phrases that lead your partner to believe you’re telling them they were wrong. That is, of course, as long as they weren’t physically or emotionally abusing the children.
Take responsibility for your children equally
I think one of the best things I can say about my husband is that he willingly accepts responsibility for raising his children. After my son was finished breastfeeding, my husband offered to begin alternating nights to put him to bed, just as we’ve done with my daughter. It was extra work, but he knew he was responsible for helping to raise the two children he helped bring into the world.
In order to make parenting teamwork successful, you both must share the responsibilities of raising your family. Split the duties, regardless of work status. There’s no work life balance for stay at home moms, but that doesn’t mean the husband has no responsibility for the kids when he’s home.
Respect each other’s strengths and weaknesses
As an introvert, I have difficulty with being home with my children all day. My husband not only recognizes when I can’t handle any more, but urges me to take time for myself. I’m much more patient with the kids than he is, but I do reach a point when I’m running on empty. When his patience wears thin, I take over again.
My husband, however, has much more energy, so I rely on him to help with more of the physical activity with the kids.
Additionally, there are certain things we’re each more proficient in. For example, when my daughter wants to do more physical activities like building, I pass her off to my husband with the engineering mind. I take on the activities that build her artistic interests, or are reading or language oriented.
It’s important to remember, however, not to expect perfection. Nothing in life always goes according to plan. All you can do is work toward making parenting teamwork successful every day. Accept when things don’t go as planned and do regular check-ins when either of you feel something doesn’t work. The only way to make it through parenthood with any sanity is to share the parental duties with your partner. View each other as team mates and work together to win the game (raise the kids the way you think will make them responsible and kind people).