When parents disagree constantly about family and parenting decisions, the result can be a family environment in which chaos and discord reigns. In order to maintain peace and harmony in any household, parents must learn to work together to build family teamwork and togetherness. Sometimes divisiveness is created inadvertently in a family through some very common parenting mistakes. The following are some ways to avoid those things that will drive your family apart rather than bring it closer together.
1. Don’t let your children pit you against each other
Children learn very quickly which parent to approach when they want to sleep over at a friend’s house or need money to go to the movies. Don’t allow your child to do something that you know your spouse would not approve. If you are unsure, tell your child that you will think about it and discuss the issue with your spouse before giving your answer. Establish family rules or guidelines and then back each other up. If you and your spouse function as a unified team, your children will feel more secure and will respect the boundaries you have set.
2. Don’t argue in front of your children
There are going to be times in your marriage when you and your spouse disagree. Avoid carrying out these disagreements when your children are present, particularly if they become very emotional or heated. Go into a private part of the house where your children can’t hear you. Witnessing arguments between their parents makes children feel very insecure and afraid. It is perfectly fine for children to know that you don’t always agree about everything, but it is too scary for them to hear or see the argument. What they need to see, however, is the two of you working together to resolve your differences in a loving way. If your children are aware that you have been fighting, show love and affection for each other in their presence after things have been resolved so that they can feel reassured.
3. Don’t bring your work home
This doesn't mean you should shut your family off from your work life, but it does mean you should concentrate on your family when you are home. Spend time with your spouse and children doing activities that are fun and create family unity. Play games, visit interesting places or go on a walk together. Choose things that will encourage interaction and will allow you to get to know each other better.
4. Don’t neglect yourself
Allow yourself some time to do things that you enjoy. Take a soothing bath, read a good book, or participate in a sporting activity. Renewing yourself in this way will help you to be a better parent and spouse.
Have a routine date night with your spouse and don’t let other priorities get in the way of this important time together. Building teamwork with your family starts with you and your spouse being a good team. Agree on your dates not to talk about work or children, but focus on each other. Weekly date nights will help keep the romance alive in your marriage and will also show your children that your relationship is important.
A. Lynn Scoresby, founder and president of My Family Track , First Answers , and Achievement Synchrony , and has been a marriage and family psychologist for more than 35 years. He has published more than 20 books and training programs.