When Parents Disagree It Is Often The Children Who Suffer Most

By: Donald Saunders

Disagreement between parents are common, as is evidenced by a divorce rate which is now close to 50% in the United States, but the secret to successful parenting lies in the way in which such disagreements are handled.

One good thing is that whatever parents may disagree about, in the vast majority of cases, they will agree that there children should not be caught up in their disagreements and this provides an excellent starting point for creating a strategy to deal with disagreements.

Dealing with disagreement is not easy and it requires a great deal of thought, patience, maturity, tact and a host of other qualities. Perhaps most important of all however it requires an ability to put things into perspective and to approach problems both reasonably and realistically.

Disagreement often sparks high emotion and leads at best to irritation and at worst to extreme anger. Wherever you find yourself along this scale it will certainly affect your view of the situation giving rise to the disagreement and affect your objectivity.

The first thing that you must do whenever a problem looms is to recognize that your spouse may well have a different point of view, but that this is a view which they will nonetheless hold for good reason and is a view that is no less valid than your own. As such their thoughts on the subject should be respected and given due consideration alongside your own opinion.

The second thing to consider is the nature of the problem itself. It is surprising just how worked up we can get about issues which are really quite trivial.

If the outcome is quite inconsequential then is it worth getting into a fight about it. If you decide that you want blue curtains in the spare bedroom and your spouse wants green curtains it's hardly worth falling out over it, especially if the spare room is probably only going to be used as a storeroom anyway.

The real problem comes when you disagree about something which you consider to be of particular importance and herein lies the difficulty for most parents as we often place far more importance on things than they really warrant.

The list of examples here is endless, but let's just look at one. What time should your child go to bed?

Most parents would agree that it is extremely important that a child gets a good night's sleep and would also agree that sending an eleven year old to bed at eight o'clock in the evening or letting him go to bed whenever he chooses is not in the child's best interest. But what time should he go to bed? One parent may feel strongly that he should be in bed by nine o'clock while the other might consider that this is too early and that ten o'clock would be more appropriate. One thing is fairly certain though and that is that the child will almost certainly prefer to go to bed later rather than earlier.

This might seem like a trivial issue when you read it in black and white, but it's surprising just how many parents almost come to blows over this particular question. The answer is of course that it is trivial and, whatever you decide, the outcome is anything but set in concrete.

Suppose for example that you feel strongly that ten o'clock is simply too late and that the child is not going to get enough sleep. Rather than cause a disagreement why not simply voice your opinion and then give it a try. If after a few days it's clear that the child isn't getting enough sleep and is having difficulty getting up in the morning and lacks energy during the day, then it's easy enough to bring his bedtime forward again.

Very few issues in life are of such fundamental importance that it is impossible to reach a compromise and, in most cases, decisions can be reversed if they turn out to have been the wrong decision.

One other very important factor to consider is that the way in which you handle disagreements sends a very strong message to your children.

It's good for children to see that mom and dad have different opinions and that they don't always agree on everything, but it's more important for them to see that each respects the views of the other and is prepared to listen, discuss and, if necessary, to compromise. Not only does this approach lead to a happier home environmentFree Reprint Articles, but it also provides the child with an excellent lesson and model to follow.

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