how to build a parenting consensus
when you disagree
The happiness of the two couples in the pew ahead of us was contagious. The men sat like two bookends, each supporting his beloved. The younger woman rested her left hand so that the other woman could see the engagement ring. The men made eye contact with each other, smiled and tightened their arms around their partners. The women exchanged glances and grinned. It was clear that no matter who the “in-law” was, all four belonged to each other.
Through a decision of their adult child, the parents had reached an important milestone on the parenting journey. But what about all the decisions that had to be made earlier in their child’s life? It’s easy when a course of action seems like the best idea to both parents. But how do parents build a consensus when they disagree?
Write down your long-term goals.
When it comes to the most important aspects of raising your children, it is likely that you agree. What are your deepest desires for your children when they become adults? To follow God’s will and strive “to love one another even as I have loved you?” (John 13:34) To find fulfillment in the professions they choose? To make use of their gifts and talents? Autonomy? Independence? Share your lists with each other and remember that you are on the same team, working toward the same goals.
Parenting is a journey with many possible paths.
Disagreements may occur because both of you have a different path in mind to reach the same goal. If we think of parenting like a trip from the East Coast to the West Coast, just imagine all the possible routes you could take in 18 years! It is natural to think that one’s own choice is best when the road offers options, but remember that your spouse may have plotted a different course. Pray together to be open to creative solutions God might surprise you!
Try a short-term decision.
Pick one specific issue that concerns you, such as the children’s responsibility for chores. Listen to each other’s opinion and try to find a compromise. If you can’t, choose one parent’s decision and see how it works for two weeks. Plan to come back and make modifications.
During Lent we focus on repentance and look at our lives from different perspectives, becoming “clay in the Potter’s hands.” Through reconciliation and genuine communication with those closest to us, we draw closer to Christ as we approach the joy and mystery of Easter. Dr. Cathleen McGreal