It can be challenging when one partner fundamentally disagrees with the other’s approach to parenting. If you’re wondering, “What can I do if I disagree with my partner’s parenting?” we have some valuable insights and suggestions on how to address the situation and reach a common understanding.
I disagree with how my spouse raises his child. For instance, he awakens his 5-year-old kid in the middle of the night to reposition him out of concern that he will roll out of bed. I completely disagree with this behavior, but I am not the boy’s parent. Am I overreacting to a harmless habit, or is my boyfriend irreparably harming his child? Is there a way for me to participate?
Sincerely, Worried Partner
Dear Worried Partner,
If the three of you were in my office, I would ask numerous questions to evaluate whether your partner’s overnight repositioning is a harmless habit or inflicting irreparable injury (the latter is unlikely). Nevertheless, what I perceive as a more major issue is that you disagree with your partner’s approach to parenting and do not know where you belong in this complex equation.
Since you are making the time and effort to contact me, I assume that you and your partner have a long-term, committed relationship, which makes this question all the more crucial. This indicates that you are certainly an influential figure in his son’s life and that you do not need the term “parent” to have a say.
But, there is a distinction between a parent and another caregiver, and I understand your reluctance to criticize a parent’s parenting! In fact, my usual guideline is not to do so, but this is intended for in-laws and judgmental playground strangers.
Thus, how can you strike a balance between appreciating your partner’s primary parental role and acknowledging that, as his significant other, you are also an important adult in his son’s life? If you aren’t the primary parent, read on for advice on how to handle parental disputes.
Ask Appropriate Questions
This may sound apparent, but the first step is to inquire about co-parenting in a two-caregiver household. Start with oneself: How engaged do you desire to be? What do you believe your function should be?
Finally, ask him what he expects from you in terms of co-parenting. How does he envision you fitting in?
This discussion can focus on caregiving duties, establishing and enforcing household rules, and even more significant parenting decisions, such as how to handle troublesome behavior. In regards to your sleep example, inquire whether he is interested in your specific concern.
This talk aims to establish boundaries and expectations. If these are clarified and agreed upon, you will know when to speak up and when to remain silent.
I would encourage you, though, to ensure that you have a voice and are involved; if your partner says he’s got it all and there’s no room for you in the parenting arena, this indicates a larger problem requiring a different solution; in this case, I would suggest couples therapy.
Start Making Changes
Once you have clearer expectations, look for opportunities to make adjustments in your role as a caregiver.
Perhaps you demonstrate a new way and see the results, or you conduct your own research on other parenting strategies and bring them to him. It is crucial for any co-parenting partnership to continue communicating and negotiating, always keeping the child’s welfare in mind.
The issue arises when there are multiple methods to prioritize a child’s well-being. Nonetheless, this is essentially the same as in traditional two-parent households, where parental conflicts and arguments frequently arise.
To come up with a modification for your example of midnight repositioning, you must first pose some questions. For instance, is the child’s sleep disturbed, or is it a momentary hazy opening of the eyes? Does the youngster have a history of slipping out of bed, and is his father taking preventative measures for a valid reason?
If falling out of bed has not been an actual issue, a suggested modification would be to persuade your partner to test out not repositioning and then offer to assist the child if he falls out of bed during the middle of the night.
Understand Your Partner
Although I would not “diagnose” your partner’s practice of waking up his 5-year-old son out of worry that he will tumble out of bed, many parents find that fear and anxiety motivate their parenting behaviors. If this is true for your partner, I am not passing judgment; I am simply pointing out that all parents bring their own challenges to the table.
You may benefit from gaining a deeper understanding of your partner’s concerns and fears toward his son. If you have a clearer understanding of where he is coming from with his decisions, you will be better equipped to discuss your concerns with him.
You are also not exempt. You are a caretaker even if you do not consider yourself a parent. Regardless of how much you wish it weren’t true, this can trigger your own problems. Consider how your childhood experiences may have influenced your thinking and how they lead to emotional triggers (everyone has them). This can provide you and your co-parenting partners with humility and compassion.
Possessing this knowledge also enhances your speaking credibility. If you can acknowledge your limitations and areas of weakness rather than asserting that you are the most knowledgeable, your spouse will be more likely to listen and be receptive as opposed to defensive.
It becomes hard for anyone in a meaningful relationship with a child to occupy the ” partner ” role alone. When you grow increasingly entangled with your loved one’s life, it no longer makes sense to abstain from parenting.
Like with any aspect of parenting, determining what works for your family of three needs hard work, errors, difficult conversations, and complex emotions. Nonetheless, the benefit of having that family is worthwhile.
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