I was talking to a young mom this morning. Her situation is different from most of my readers, but she reminded me of something we all have to do to succeed in parenting together.
We must face parenting as a team. If only one parent is making all the decisions and doing all the work of parenting, the children are the ones who suffer in the long run. So for the best parenting results, work together.
The glue that holds our marriage and family together is trust. Trust is based on the commitment we made at our wedding to love and be faithful to our spouse no matter what. But just keeping that commitment by gritting our teeth and meeting our obligations is like a skeleton. Building trust is like the muscles that keep our relationship strong.
Trust is the “WE” in our marriage. We are not doing marriage and parenting by ourselves, but as a team. Instead of looking at how the problems we face affect ‘me’, we look at how they will affect ‘us’.
Teams practice together. We must have time together. We cannot build a friendship without spending time. We cannot know each other if we don’t spend time together. If we don’t know each other, how can we possibly trust that they still have our best interests at heart?
Time together gives us time to keep updating our ‘love maps’ as Gottman calls them. That is all the ways we have learned to reach our spouse’s heart, to build their confidence, to encourage and help them. Asking questions, really listening, and sharing our thoughts and experiences help us to trust each other when we must be apart.
Trust is built by how we speak and when we refrain from speaking. It’s when we say things we know will help and refrain from whining or griping or accusing. We speak well and don’t embarrass or hurt each other when with others.
Trust grows when we see that we can rely on our spouse to handle money well. When we talk about large expenditures and don’t act impulsively or speculate with our resources, trust grows. We live within our means and our budget. This doesn’t mean we cannot be spontaneous or lavish at times, but it does mean that we don’t go into debt without making it a joint decision.
Trust develops as we decide together for our children’s best. Childcare and early education should be a joint decision. One parent may do the research, but talking about it before committing to it, means we take mutual responsibility for the successes or failures. Talking about discipline tactics before-hand builds a team approach that keeps children from playing one parent against the other.
Be sure both parents know each child’s character, behavior, personality, and development. Be sure to share the successes, as well as the failures, in your children’s day. Make knowing your children a team sport.
When you cannot be together with your children because of work or other responsibilities, every day make sure you take at least a few minutes for FaceTime or Skype or phone call. Children will treasure those calls.
When you are together, make sure you play together! Children learn so much during play. Don’t miss out on this joy! Laughing together relieves tension and replaces it with joy. Enjoy being a family!
The most important way we can parent together is to pray together. Pray for each other and the challenges you are facing. Pray for each child and wisdom to know how best to raise this child. Pray for yourself that you will be open to the influence of God and your spouse.
Find ways to Parent Together. Talk together, work together, play together, and grow together. Make it a ‘team’ sport!