The Norman Transcript

Features

May 30, 2014

To get on the same parenting page, work on your marriage

NORMAN — How can my spouse and I get on the same page where the kids are concerned? is both the most difficult question parents ask me and also the most important. It is the most difficult because each of the parents in question thinks the problem lies with the other, and as long as they cling to that security blanket, the problem cannot be solved.

It is the most important question because the strength of a family and, therefore, the well-being of its children, depends fundamentally on the parents being in a state of unity.

Fifty-plus years ago, it was rare for parents to have significant disagreement concerning children. Today, the problem is ubiquitous. And it is at the root of many, if not most, parenting problems. Solve that and everything will begin to fall into place rather quickly and easily.

Paradoxically, however, the “parents on two different pages” problem won’t be solved by communicating more about the kids, being more willing to compromise on matters of discipline and respecting one another’s different expectations and goals concerning the kids. In other words, parents who are not on the same parenting page will not get on the same page by regarding and treating their differences as a parenting problem. It’s a marital problem.

The problem exists because the two people in question, when they began having kids, slowly abandoned the roles of husband and wife. This happened over the span of several years, so like the proverbial frog in water that’s being slowly heated to boiling, they accustomed themselves to it.

Eventually, not really being truly married became a habit. At this point, they’re in a state of denial. They say they’re married, but they’re not. They are a mother and a father. Those roles do not define a marriage; they define biology.

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