You have all had that moment when your child runs up to you and ask for a piece of candy. You stop and think to yourself, “Didn’t we have doughnuts for breakfast?” Then they follow up with a sweet little smile on their face and in with their best manners they say, “Daddy said we could…PLEASE!” My husband knows we don’t eat a lot of sweets, so my response is always, “Great, let’s go talk to Daddy!” Immediately the backtracking begins, the excuses start and I’ll often hear them say, “Never mind.”
My kids know we are on the same page and work hard to make decisions jointly. They understand that if one parent says yes or no, the other parent will agree with and support that decision. It creates a united front that our children know is unbreakable. There is no back and forth. There is no asking one parent a question, not getting the answer they want, and then running to the other parent to try and get their way. Our children know the adults in the house support each other’s decisions. My nine-year-old call us “Team Mom and Dad,” usually while rolling her eyes!
While we present an unbreakable, united front to our children, as any two people raising kids, we do not always agree with each other’s parenting choices behind closed doors. It is important to take the time to talk through each person’s thought process, their perception of the situation, and what we would each like to see happen next time.
Truthfully, “Team Mom and Dad” continues to make our marriage stronger. It is a great feeling to always know one person in the room has your back. Knowing how strong-willed kids can be, this is a big relief because you never feel like you are fighting the battle alone. This approach has been especially helpful during the pandemic when we are always together and even the smallest decision could have significant consequences.
This approach continues to give us more time for fun and fewer arguments as a couple and as a family. It is not always easy and takes a lot of work, but we are working to show our kids how much we respect each other as people and as partners in parenting. Hoping one day our children will have a family of their own, we want them to feel empowered to work as a team and have their own voices heard as they make decisions for their family.
Looking for some tips to get started? Here’s what worked for us!
Talk with your spouse about the idea and agree on the basic principle to back each other’s decisions in front of the kids. From there put it to the test. Know that your children will try you at every turn.
When in doubt about something they are asking for, make sure to take the extra step to check with your spouse before giving them your answer. If your partner has agreed to something you aren’t in favor of go with the decision they’ve made. There will be more than one instance when you want to blurt out, “Why in the world would you let the kids do…” Don’t say, only think it – silently. This is the key step in making “Team Mom and Dad” work.
Once the kids go to bed take a few minutes to discuss what is working, what you’d both like to see or do differently and ask each other how you can be supportive. Having these nightly check-ins will allow you the space to find more trust in each other and understand how you work best as a team. This connection will give you the groundwork to talk through any parenting situation. Plus, it will show your kids who’s in charge!