It’s important that parents are on the same page about certain parenting issues, such as discipline, swearing and pocket money. If you’re not, don’t be surprised if your home is filled with arguing and bickering.
“Parents who present a unified front achieve far more for peace and happiness at home,” confirms Justin Coulson, psychologist, father of five and director of Happy Families.
Here are some key issues that often divide parents and how you can work together on them as a couple.
How much pocket money your kids get – and how hard they have to work for it – can be difficult for some people to agree on as it’s often learnt behaviour from our own parents. Justin advises sitting down with your partner, listening calmly to each other’s views and trying to find a middle ground. “Perhaps they’ll determine to increase pocket money, but only pay it once a week. Perhaps they may decide that pocket money no longer needs to be “earned”, but is an allowance,” he says. “Or they may decide that so long as the child can develop some financial skills (with their help) it doesn’t really matter how much money she receives. Then they might sit with the child and discuss their decision, helping her to understand.”
It’s something to consider: if you or your hubby swear at home, your young child is certainly more likely to swear, too.
Justin says he recently worked with a family whose teenage sons used language that mum found offensive, but dad didn’t have a problem with. They discussed things together and agreed that dad would stop swearing, and that, although their boys would probably still swear away from home, at home it was not the way they wanted things. Then they talked with the boys, together, about the situation.
They agreed that it would be tough, but that it was important to respect mum and her wishes and how schoolteachers, employers, and various other people would not accept it. They boys agreed, and the family came together with reasonable success on the issue.”
When your child refuses to tidy up, use it as an opportunity to teach them some valuable lessons.
“The best approach is to use understanding and ‘Perspective Taking’,” advises Justin. “We might ask, “What do you see when you go into your room?”
Perhaps our child thinks it is tidy enough. If they do, then we have the opportunity to teach them how we see ‘tidy’. By having our teen take our perspective, she may recognise that we don’t like it too much. We can ask her what she thinks would be an appropriate way of dealing with the issue. And we might even offer to help. It’s amazing how our willingness to be involved with our children changes their attitude.”
TV and computer time
The negative effects of too much screen time are widely known – Justin says arm yourself with the facts and then discuss the subject with your partner.
“There’s plenty of research that shows that kids who have too much ‘electronic time’ can often suffer. In some cases they’re going to be getting less exercise than their peers, and often less sleep. This can lead to poorer results academically. And there’s no doubt that it can affect mood and temperament,” he confirms, adding that a setting the number of hours each day isn’t necessarily the best approach.
“It should be based on personal feelings, commitments and schedules (such as extra-curricular sports or music, and homework or projects), whether the program the child wants to watch is actually beneficial in any way or whether it’s just idle ‘brain-dead’ time, and so on.”
Staying out late at night
Justin says there is no hard and fast rule for your pre-teen or teenage regarding the correct time to come home at night, but that families – not just partners – need to communicate and work together.
“There may be some nights where later is OK,” he advises. “It might be OK to stay out later when the days are longer. There are safety concerns depending on what suburb the family lives in. How well do the parents of the two families know each other? What is their level of trust? Do they have phone numbers?”
Families need to discuss these issues together, kindly and compassionately, with understanding. Then they need to act together.
This article has been republished with permission from Kidspot.
This article has been republished with permission from theAsianparent.
Written by: Joanna Bounds