We remember the pediatric nurse who gave us the following advice as we left the hospital with Blake, our first. She said, “Children grow in phases. The first phase is always the hardest. You will question and doubt yourself and spend all your money, time and energy trying to do what you think is best for them. You will give up the things you enjoy in order to give him your very best. You will have many sleepless nights.” We asked, “How long is the first phase?” and she replied, “Birth to eighteen years. Then it will still be challenging but less difficult.”
Parenting is tough! Children’s needs go beyond anything you can ready in any book or learn through a video. There isn’t any resource available that covers every scenario. And every child is different. What works for the first doesn’t always work for the second. With rapid changes in culture and technology, every generation of parents has to face things their parents never faced.
The most important thing you can give your children is a home where both parents love God and each other. However, good Christian parents who love God, each other, and their children usually disagree about parenting choices. In fact, it is rare that both spouses agree about parenting decisions and styles.
Our parenting styles are influenced greatly by what we experienced in our home as children. How our parents did relationships, expressed or hid their emotions, disciplined, set rules for the home, handled money, and taught Godly truths impact how we parent. Some of us choose to parent opposite of the way we were raised while others work hard to give our children a similar experience of our childhood.
As spouse approach parenting, they learn there are differences between their perspectives. Since both parents grew up in different homes with different parents, their parenting perspective is different. Even spouses from strong Christian homes will find conflict in how they choose to parent children.
Don’t kid yourself. Parenting with someone you disagree with is hard. Parenting post-divorce is even harder. The challenges of dealing with an ex while trying to blend a family is more challenging than the frustration of working through disagreements about parenting styles and decisions.
Yes, the nurse was correct. The first phase was tough. It was the source of our greatest joys in life. Our parenting disagreements and conflicts were well worth what we each received individually and together in parenting. As parents who have two adult children in the second phase of life, and as marriage champions who have worked with countless couples struggling in parenting conflicts, here are our suggestions for making it to phase 2.
- Communicate about disagreements. Have the crucial conversations required to compromise in your parenting approach.
- Present a united front. Let your children see you on the same page. Confer and discuss with each other before presenting the discipline, rule or parenting approach to your children.
- Love your spouse through the ups and downs of parenting. Remember that the greatest gift you can give your child is love for God and his other parent.
- Keep the end in mind. Parent in such a way that provides the maximum freedom for each child given their responsibility level. Help them learn to make choices within boundaries. You don’t want to be making decisions about what they will eat for them when they turn 18!
- Pray for God’s wisdom, protection and safety.
We love to hear from our tribe. Let us know what works for you in getting through parenting differences. Share a story or a comment. What did we leave off of the list?
This article was written by Roy and Devra Wooten, authors of “The Secret to a Lifetime Love”. Learn more at www.LifeTogetherForever.com © Roy and Devra Wooten 2015. All Rights Reserved. You may replicate this article as long as it is provided free to recipients and includes appropriate attribution. Written permission for other use may be obtained at Secret@LifeTogetherForever.com.