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Jul 31 2017

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How to respond when your spouse undermines your parenting

your spouse undermines your parenting

How to respond when your spouse undermines your parenting

I tapped out after an exhausting argument with my child. One benefit of parenting together is being able to walk away and cool off while still leaving someone present to continue the parenting protocol, or so I thought. After I left, my husband made a decision to solve the conflict by repealing a chore plan I had in place. He literally threw the paper away. Problem solved, he thought.

After I cooled down and was ready to re-engage life in a more reasonable manner, I found out what had happened. It felt like a kick in the stomach. How was I supposed to respond when he undermined my parenting? At the time, I didn’t respond well. I let the unresolved chaos of my defeated-parenting moment fuel my anger.

Parenting in the trenches is hard enough. Being undermined adds a double load of hardship. It creates isolation where unity is supposed to be.

Being on the same page in parenting is a great goal. But what do you do in the interim while you reel back after discovering this shocking truth: your page and his are not only decidedly different but are written in two separate languages? What happens when you’re the only one who has a page, and your spouse doesn’t want to follow along? One page or two, children still need parenting.

Time has passed since that moment, and the resolve of getting on the same page took much longer than I wanted, but that experience taught me a few important lessons. If your parenting is being undermined or you are wrestling with two-page parenting, these lessons might help provide direction and hope.

Keep these four ideas fresh in your mind and find hope.

Pray

Prayer is powerful. There’s not a situation in life that doesn’t warrant prayer. But here’s why prayer is the first on my list: God is able to work in your life, your spouse’s life, and in the lives of your children in ways you never can. Parenting “right” doesn’t create perfect children. Just as Adam and Eve rebelled against their perfect parent, your children have a will of their own—a will that can defy even the best of parents. If the goal is to raise kids well, God working in your life and in the life of your family is essential.

Own your part

No one is perfect. You’re not perfect nor is anyone else. Conflict is a combination of imperfect people exposing their unpleasant weaknesses in each other’s direction. It’s easy to smell another person’s stinky attitude and think our issues are like perfume. My husband (unintentionally) exposed my chore system as a flop. And by the conflict I was having with my child, the system wasn’t working.

Could I’ve talked with him about issues I was having and invite him into the process prior to our in-house war? Yes. Did I? No.

Could he have talked with me about changing the plan before throwing my system away? Yes. Did he? No.

Guess who I thought was the problem?

Guess who was surprised when I was upset with his solution?

Shift expectations

Lowering my bar isn’t the same as accepting defeat. When I have my “parenting well” goggles on, I shoot for the stars. I want the best for my kids. I want them to be passionate about Jesus, hard-working, polite, helpful, compassionate, and achieve academic excellence. I read books and make plans. Yet, I have zero control to make my children grow into maturity. In my striving, I get my eyes on the goal and miss the million steps that are in between. Celebrating little steps or being accepting of missteps in the journey feels like lowering my bar, instead, it’s releasing my sense control. Lowering my bar means I love my kids where they are and point them toward the goal. I can only guide and encourage.

Recognize God’s role in parenting

Acknowledge God as the primary parent puts the responsibility in the right place. No matter how much you love your children, God is infinitely more invested in their good. He started the knitting together part of your children before you knew they existed. His greatest desire is to make them fit for an eternity with him. In that process, he seeks to make them into people that reflect his image well. He never fails and never gives up. God is your everyday, in-the-trenches parent with you. You are never alone in this job of parenting. Need wisdom and strength? He’s got you covered.

Getting on the same page with your spouse in parenting is a process. There is hope because God loves you, your spouse, and your children. He can work miracles.

Will you pray and invite God into your struggle?

Even if your spouse is unwilling to talk about parenting, you can pray. God still moves mountains. The biggest ones have been the mountains he has moved in my heart.

What lessons have you learned about yourself when you’ve faced parenting conflicts with your spouse?

Share your lessons in the comments below.

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