A different version of this article was originally published in La Leche League’s New Beginnings in 2001 under the title When Dad Disagrees.
Are you pouring your heart and soul into being the absolute best mom you can possibly be?
Doing everything you can to embody peaceful parenting, determined that your children’s needs and spirits be lovingly attended to?
And are you then sometimes met with resistance by your husband who thinks the way most children are parented is ‘just fine’?
And who thinks something you’re doing must not be right because your children don’t just obey you or sleep through the night like others do?
This is the case for many moms I talk to. And I happen to have written my very first article on this topic, a lifetime ago when I was still a young mom, for La Leche League’s New Beginnings magazine.
So I decided to edit it (it was pretty rough!) and re-publish it on my own website, with LLL’s permission, so I can share it with you.
My husband and I had many disagreements when it came to children's issues, but I am pleased to say that over time, we developed a philosophy of parenting we completely agreed on.
I want to share with you some of the tips that have helped me get there (and that have now also helped many other mothers) in the hopes that they may also help you find your way to parenting on the same page as your partner.
I HAD TO FIND A WAY!
Once I became a mom and started learning about natural parenting, I knew this was the only way I was willing parent.
It wasn’t an option for me to do anything that didn’t feel right to me.
And it wasn’t an option to have my daughters grow up with any of the issues I was plagued by, as the result of the way I myself was parented.
So I knew I had to find a way to get my husband on board.
And this was at least a decade before I started learning any relationship skills, or even had an inkling that my feelings and preferences actually mattered, so I had to get very creative in it.
Here are some strategies and insights I used that really helped my hubby and I get on the same page as parents:
1. PARENTING MISSION STATEMENT
To begin with, we created a mission statement for our parenting. This exercise was powerful in helping us achieve clarity on what we most wanted for our only child at the time.
"We will nurture our children with loving guidance, encouraging them to follow their bliss, and helping them develop spiritual awareness, self esteem, self confidence, and empathy."
We printed our Mission Statement, and it lived on our refrigerator door.
So if we found ourselves disagreeing on how to handle a situation with our girls (or I should say with Cassandra, since it’s so much more work with the first one!) we would refer to our mission statement.
We would then think about how each option fit in with our goals for our children.
For example, if we were thinking about whether or not to put our child in time-out, we would realize that it didn’t fit our mission statement because imposing negative consequences is not lovingly guiding children or empathetic, and doesn't foster self-esteem or encourage them following their bliss.
Another example would be if we were trying to decide whether we should make our daughter wear a special outfit for a party.
Our mission statement doesn't mention wanting our children to conform to the social norms. We agreed that we wanted them to develop self-confidence, which is encouraged by letting children make as many decisions as possible for themselves—including decisions about clothes.
Having a mission statement we both agreed on provided an objective resource which helped cut through the feelings and resistance that could get activated in those conversations.
2. PRESENTING NEW IDEAS
At some blessed point, I discovered a way to present new ideas to Mike that provided the space for him to listen with an open mind.
I would first mention the new idea I had heard or thought about.
And then… I would say NOTHING.
If he wanted more information, he would ask for it. Otherwise, it'd be the end of the conversation.
I found that if I asked him what he thought right away, he tended to look for arguments against the idea.
But if I waited until the following day, week or month to ask his opinion, he had often already agreed with me because he had time to think about it in a non-threatening, relaxed way.
And if he wasn’t yet in agreement, he was at least more open to discussing the idea, without being defensive, so we could have a more open-minded conversation.
As my daughters grew, I've found that this approach works well with them as well. :-)
3. PICK YOUR MOMENT
DO NOT share your new idea with your hubby the second he walks in the door, exhausted from a long week at work, while the children are jumping on him for attention!
This will make it very unlikely he’ll be excited about it.
Pick your moment when engaging in serious or potentially conflictual conversations! Do it on a laid-back weekend morning, or on a long car drive while the children have dozed off.
Engaging in those conversations when your partner is tired, on the way out the door, or preoccupied by something greatly diminishes the likelihood that he’ll be open to what you have to say.
4. IT’S MY JOB!
At times my husband didn’t understand why I was so focused on ‘figuring out’ parenting (one could arguably call it obsessed!) and so attached to our daughters.
It helped him relate to my situation when I compared it to his job.
He read the newspaper to keep up-to-date on the latest information, read books and magazines related to his field, frequently talked about various work issues with his co-workers, and still sometimes thought about his job when he was home with us.
I read parenting and self-help books, discussed ideas with trusted friends, and attended La Leche League and other parenting related meetings and conferences for similar reasons.
Parenting was my full-time career and I spent most of my time and energy on it because I loved it and found it worthwhile, the same way he did about his work.
And because parenting was my full-time job, I had many opportunities to be exposed to new ideas, which he didn’t.
5. ‘ALTERNATIVE’ PARENTING
Sometimes, Mike would talk about ways his co-workers were handling situations with their children differently than us, which seemed more ‘normal.’
I’d remind him first that those people didn’t live with us and our children and that we were best equipped to make decisions regarding what was best for our family.
And that many times people follow a mainstream approach to parenting because it’s what everyone else is doing, and it doesn’t really occur to them to question it.
But that good enough was just not good enough for our family.
His co-workers may not have unfortunately been thinking about their children’s emotional well-being, but that was very important to us.
They also probably thought that many children's behaviors in our society are normal instead of caused by parenting practices, such as babies crying, children not listening to their parents and being disrespectful, needing punishments or rewards to cooperate, adversarial relationships between parents and children, siblings fighting, not being able to go to nice public places with children, difficulty traveling with children, teenage rebellion, etc.
But as we learned in The Continuum Concept and came to know ourselves, those things may be the norm in our society, but they’re not normal for humans.
I also reminded him a few times that I’m actually a pretty smart and astute person (wasn’t that part of why he married me?) and that chances are I knew what I was talking about?
And that I also truly did want what was best for our children, just as he did.
And THAT was the reason I wouldn’t accept other people's or society’s ideas at face value.
As Mike became more on board with our alternative way of parenting, he started realizing some of the benefits of it.
At some point a few of his employees had babies at the same time as us. The men would often come in to work exhausted, complaining about lack of sleep from being woken up by babies at night, taking care of them to give their wives a break, having taken over some of the feedings.
Mike would just grin as he’d tell them “I’m not tired at all, I NEVER wake up at night!” Audrey’s needs were fully met through me breastfeeding her, and since she was in bed with us, there was never a need for Mike to wake up.
He was a big proponent of our alternative lifestyle then! :-)
6. DEVELOPING YOUR EFFECTIVE PARENTING SKILLS
One more thing.
Since originally writing this article for New Beginnings 15 years ago, I’ve talked with and worked with thousands of people.
And one thing I’ve come to realize is that dads often have a hard time getting on board with peaceful parenting because many peaceful families end up being chaotic, with children not really listening to their parents and often acting out, and moms regularly getting irritated and feeling worn out.
So even though those dads might be open to peaceful parenting, they don’t really see it working.
And that’s because the moms unfortunately don’t know how to be the benevolent leader their children need, and don’t know how to respectfully yet clearly set limits. (Click here and here for some pointers on this.)
So what I now suggest to those moms is to get whatever support they need so their parenting DOES become effective.
(I’ve created here two highly effective programs to provide you with that support: my Quick Start Program and my Clean Parenting™ Program.)
When that happens, husbands are much more likely to get on board!
And all they then have to do is copy what the mom is doing to lovingly and respectfully guide their children.
I feel very lucky that I've been able to work things out with Mike, and that consequently I’ve been able to parent my daughters in full alignment with my values.
And I want this for you as well.
One reason this happened for us was of course because of our shared, sincere commitment to our mission statement.
But another big part of it was my steadfastness in finding effective ways to communicate my natural parenting ideals to Mike. And my taking 100% responsibility for making that happen.
What can YOU do, today, to move you and your partner toward parenting on the same team?
Let me know in the comments' section. I'd love to hear!
And if you'd like some help in it, check out my Step-By-Step Plan For Getting Your Partner On Board With Peaceful Parenting.
Lots of love,
To find out more about the parenting approach I used and now teach, which is so effective that it brought my husband fully on board, request my FREE report:
The Almost Magical Formula For Surprising Ease and Harmony in Your Family While Fully Honoring Your Children’s Spirits
And for an enjoyable, connecting and effective way to get on the same team as parents, couples have done my Quick Start Program together!
SUGGESTIONS: If you liked this article, you'll likely also enjoy: