“Don’t worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you.” ~ Robert Fulghum
Before even getting married couples should talk about their beliefs and attitudes to parenting. This is as important a criterion for compatibility as interests or long-term goals.
This is also an issue that can undermine a marriage and cause untold distress for children. If a couple discovers that, once well into the parenting process, they are at odds as to how he children should be raised, they should not delay getting some professional coaching/facilitating.
If parents have strong differences, what happens is that the battle between them gets played out on and through the children. A power struggle emerges, with each trying to influence the children according to their philosophy.
Of course this is tremendously confusing for children. They eventually learn to play one parent against the other. Parents may find themselves in the role of “good parent/bad parent.”
Sometimes each parent will try to compensate for the other. If one feels the other is too lenient, he/she may become much more strict. Conversely, if one feels the other is too strict, he/she may become overly lenient, giving in to the children more than normal.
Finally, parents often engage in a full-out verbal battle about their differences while the child stands helplessly between them. This makes children intensely uncomfortable, and they end up feeling the fighting is their fault.
Parents need to work with a third party if they cannot agree on a middle ground, both for the sake of the children, and for the sake of their marriage.
Copyright © Gwen Randall-Young, All Rights Reserved. Contact us if you would like permission to reprint.
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