Parenting as a Team Sport

When two people get married, it’s the beginning of a whole new unit of family. A lot of the time, when they become parents, their being husband and wife takes a back seat to the new role as mummy or daddy.

In our case, when I gave birth to our first-born son, Daniel was very busy with the organisation he was involved with; he would come home late at night, and sometimes, he would suddenly be called to important meetings, leaving me at home mostly by myself and our newborn. That kind of work schedule continued up to the time when we already had children, and I had developed the habit of making a Plan B in my mind whenever he offered to take us places. Chances were high that he would suddenly be called away, leaving me all by myself with three children under five in tow!

I didn’t realise it then, but all those negative experiences contributed to my viewing myself as parenting on a solo flight, when the truth is that parenting is designed to be a team sport! Why? A strong marriage is the foundation of strong parenting, and we want to develop our unity as husband and wife in order to guide our children along the best paths for their development and future.

Children are very adept at pitting one parent against another, and unless you’re aware of that tactic, it can cause a rift between the two of you!
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How to Parent as a Team

Here are some important tips we have learned about parenting as a team: 

1. Come into agreement as husband and wife.

Children are very adept at pitting one parent against another, and unless you’re aware of that tactic, it can cause a rift between the two of you! You probably see this in even the youngest of children: one parent says no candy, and the child adorably sidles over to the other parent, bats Puss-in-Boots type eyelashes and asks for the sweet. If the other parent doesn’t know that the first one already said no, chances are, he or she will give the requested treat, and it’s a win for the little one, who’s starting to learn how to play on each parent’s weakness!

One way to combat this would be to have regular discussions about your values, rules, and boundaries. Sometimes you may not get to all the nitty-gritty, but if you know what your agreed stand is on most of the major issues, and on principles, it should make a huge difference!

2. Avoid arguing in front of the children.

Now, we are not advocating hypocrisy. But it’s important that your children perceive you as having a united front. Daniel and I don’t always agree on everything, but we have agreed to have our disagreements behind closed doors. Then we come up with a decision and once we face the kids, we both already have an agreement, so they see that we are one in what we have decided.

3. Honor each other’s strengths.

We strengthen our bond as a team when we appreciate each other’s strengths and contribution to the marriage and family. We can do this by verbally expressing what we like about our partner, and this can also be done in private as well as in public, such as in front of the children. When we develop this as a family habit, it also sends a message of honor to our kids.

4. Consult each other first on major decisions.

When it comes to major family decisions, it’s best to develop the habit of talking with your spouse first, even before talking things over with the children. Remember, the right order of priority is really always our spouse first, even if the decision has to do with one of our children! Once our kids see that we always consult each other first, they will learn to wait and accept that you value each other’s opinions the most.

5. Decide together on boundaries and ways of discipline.

One of the areas that can really cause contention between husband and wife is how to discipline the children. This is partly because we each grow up with different parenting styles, and may have different perspectives on how to implement discipline. That’s why it’s important to set standards, boundaries, and how you would like to keep them in line.

Parent as a Team Effort

Remember, you are first husband and wife before you became mummy and daddy. And although your role as parents in bringing up children is important, it’s still crucial that you cultivate your intimacy together as husband and wife. One way to do this is by pooling your effort together and parenting as a team. The more you learn how to work together in this critical task of raising up your children, the more you also get to know each other!

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