My mum was always a National supporter, and my dad was Labour. Every three years they would dutifully go to the polls and cancel out each other’s vote.
One of the most useful insights about staying together as a couple is – you are not always going to agree, and that’s okay. I run relationship seminars and teach some wonderful tools to help couples negotiate with each other – but I am very aware that sometimes it doesn’t work. I know counselling can help, but honestly, if you don’t like your partner’s mother, how much counselling will it take before you do? The really valuable thing to know is that you can disagree, it can annoy you but you can shrug, sigh and still love each other.
However, when it comes to parenting, it is immensely useful to present a united front. You will have different approaches to rules and behaviour – two authentic people will always have different ideas –and your kids will soon get to know who has the softer touch when it comes to asking for things.
Where it gets tricky is if you start contradicting each other or undermining the other parent’s authority with the children, “Don’t bother about that – that’s just mum being cranky.” Whenever you can, back each other up. If you get the, “But mum said we weren’t allowed to!” complaint, a good strategy is to say, “Okay, she might be thinking of something that I haven’t thought of. Do what mum says and I’ll have a chat with her so I’ll know why she said that.” In most cases, showing the children that you support each other is more important being right!
By John Cowan, The Parenting Place
Improving and equipping families to thrive.
Read more from John and The Parenting place here.