Education: when parents disagree

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Parents in a family do not always agree on the best way to raise their children. They may have the same goal, but have a different vision of how to get there. What can be done to maintain harmony?

Different, but complementary

Each person comes from a unique family background and has his or her own baggage. Each parent’s knowledge and experience may be different, but also complementary. It is therefore important to be attentive to the other’s vision in order to enrich one’s own point of view on the education of a child.

In addition, as children get older, they make more requests, such as special permission to stay up later or a new toy seen at a friend’s house. From the age of 4 or 5, children develop the ability to argue, make their point and negotiate. It is therefore important that both parents be consistent in their expectations of their child.

In order to reach joint decisions, parents should discuss in private, not in front of their child. If they contradict each other in front of the child, the child will not be sure of the rules. In addition, he will understand that he can take the opportunity to go to either parent first, depending on the nature of his request and his interests.

Maintaining harmony

Here are a few tips to avoid conflicts about your child’s education.

When your child is not with you, take the time to discuss the values that are important to both of you. What do you want to pass on to your child?

Once you’ve established your shared values, you’ll find that your methods may differ. Talk about your respective childhoods and the upbringing you received, with its good and bad points. Take the time to explain each other’s point of view.

Don’t argue in front of your child about their upbringing. Sometimes the other parent will have to make a decision in your absence. Stand by your child, even if you don’t fully agree with their choice.

Whenever possible, take the time to discuss the matter together,
without your child, about a family-related request or issue. While this may delay the decision, it will give you time to come to an agreement.

Stay open to compromise. Prioritize, but be willing to let go of some things. Don’t try to be right about everything. For your child’s sake, sometimes it’s important to stand together with the other parent and be supportive of their decisions.

To limit discussion time, share responsibilities and areas of involvement.

Take turns making decisions. There is nothing to stop you from trying out one parent’s solution and evaluating the results together later.

Raising a child is a big challenge. Often, more than one choice is valid, and there is more than one solution to a problem. Sharing with other parents may help you see some situations from a different perspective.

The family council

If your children are old enough, hold a “family council” once a month. This will allow you to schedule a time for each family member to talk about their expectations and discuss the family atmosphere. You can address both sibling conflict management and your children’s requests of you. Once your children’s requests have been explained, you can discuss them together and make decisions that work for both of you. This time can also be used to divide tasks and responsibilities among family members or to create a list of family rules.

Separated parents and blended families

Most of these suggestions apply equally to separated or blended families. They are especially important because family life after separation involves adjusting to a new situation.

It is a good idea for separated parents to continue to discuss major decisions about the child together. If you are concerned about your child’s behaviour or if you need to make a decision about his or her future (e.g., a change in school), make time to meet and decide together.

Accept that you are not in control of everything on a daily basis. A child who splits his time between two homes and two families must adapt to the rules and habits of the parent he lives with.

If you are a blended family and the children of both parents are learning to live under the same roof, it is even more important to establish rules for living together, even if it means changing some habits.

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