• african american mother talking with her daughter indoors

    How to Overcome Parenting Conflicts

    It’s back-to-school time, and with it more demands on family life — homework struggles, a flood of afterschool activities, new friends, dating (yikes!) and worries about saving for college. These challenges combined with everyday disagreements over household decisions and proper childcare have the potential to bring up numerous parenting conflicts.


    And while a certain amount of disagreement regarding parenting is normal, it can escalate to the point where it becomes a problem that not only strains the adults’ relationship — but affects the entire family too. Here are some things you can do to help keep these discussions healthy and productive.


    Don’t argue in front of the kids. Children need no help with blaming themselves when their parents fight. Arguing about children in their presence can make them feel guilty and frightened. And don’t presume that they can’t hear you just because they’re in their rooms. Table such discussions to a time and place when the children are not within earshot. And if you do slip up, be sure to reassure them that the disagreement is over and that you still love each other — and them. It’s critically important to protect children from conflict as much as possible.


    Use reflective listening techniques. Parenting conflicts are one type of argument where it’s highly likely that you’re both actually coming at the issue from the same emotional place — the best interest of the children. Make a practice of summarizing what you hear your partner saying before focusing on making your own points. For example, respond with, “So you’re worried that Johnny may get injured if he plays on the football team.” You’ll probably realize that you actually agree on more than you thought.


    See the bigger picture. Many times, arguments over the kids are really about larger relationship issues – such as budgeting or balancing household responsibilities. These require closer exploration and attention within the parental relationship. And love isn’t a competition: Avoid using issues pertaining to the children to make points or “score a win.”


    Present a united front. Whatever the conflict at hand and how much you may disagree with each other, it’s important to be consistent in your message to — and treatment of — your children. Tell your kids, “Mom and I agree that…” or “your father and I have decided that…” And certainly never paint your partner as the “bad guy.” You should always try to support each other in front of the kids no matter how divided your opinions are on a given issue.


    Seek compromise. Find opportunities for solutions that address the concerns of both parents. For example, if you disagree about what punishment is appropriate for a particular transgression, look for a position somewhere in the middle. Better yet, consider pre-negotiating and determining consequences ahead of time for different behaviors. For example, skipping chores might result in the loss of allowance for one week, whereas talking back could lead to a night without dessert. This can take the pressure off of having to make decisions in the moment.


    Couples therapy can provide assistance in resolving parenting and other relationship conflicts. Feel free to call my office at 407-579-2070 for a free complementary consultation to see if therapy is right for you.

    Therapy services available via Telehealth.