It began with Henry asking his son a simple question about the boy’s grades. His son gave him an elusive answer, and well, one thing led to another, emotions flared, and they argued for over an hour.
It ended when Henry’s wife sided with the son, and as he walked out of the room in anger, Henry told the boy what privileges he’d be losing. Not a pleasant scene.
Now there are a lot of issues we could address, and we did try to encourage Henry in several areas. For example: balancing high expectations with love and acceptance; or making sure the child feels the responsibility for making good grades and solving his problems; and, then there’s the topic of conflict resolution, and setting a good example when things get tense.
But perhaps the most important issue here is being united with your wife in the area of expectations and discipline. Kids need to see a consistent purpose behind what both of you do. So, if you haven’t yet, I encourage you to sit down with your wife-now, before a touchy situation arises-and decide together how you want to approach certain issues in your parenting. Find an approach you can both agree on. Then, when things get heated, abide by what you’ve discussed.
When situations do come up, it’s important that you not contradict, but support each other. Make sure you two aren’t going at each other in front of the kids. That creates a lot of insecurity in the home. If you do disagree, even if you’re convinced that you’re right, let it go for now. Give in on this battle, and discuss your disagreements later, in private. You can always go back to your child together and say, “Son, we talked it over, and we didn’t handle this in the best way.” And then take whatever steps are appropriate.
And kids are clever. If the two of you aren’t united, they’ll always find ways to exploit the situation and pit you against your wife. And that only multiplies the problems.
But a mom and dad who appreciate each other’s unique approach and learn to work together will bring great blessings to their kids-and to each other.