In Parshat Chayei Sara, we are privy to the first story about matchmaking, Eliezer travels to Aram Naharaim to finds Yitzchok a wife. Rivka meets Eliezer at the well and impresses him with her act of tremendous Chesed in giving water to him and all his camels. Yitzchok and Rivka are obviously a match made in heaven however they do differ in their parenting methods. It is not so different for in our marriages, many times our husbands don’t see I eye to eye on how to parent. Many mothers take my classes and they try to start implementing the new skills that they are learning but do not get much cooperation from their husbands. Here are a couple of suggestions for what to do when your husband is not on board:
1. Don’t do anything:
There is nothing more annoying to a man than to have his wife criticize or a nag him. I think we all have to learn that the hard way. One of the benefits of the skills that I teach is that they model respectful communication. So your children and even your husband can learn the skills by just watching what you do. Also, if you criticize your husband’s parenting skills in front of your kids, that can be misconstrued as disrespect. Kids can pick up on this as well. Unless there is outright physical and verbal abuse, you need to support your husband’s decisions and parenting, even if you might not agree with his tactics. Kids feel more secure when their parents act as a team.
2. Have important conversations in private:
If your child is having an issue and you have an idea on how to handle it, speak to your spouse in private about the matter. Try not to be pushy and ask for his opinion:
“I know we have been having this issue with Eli and not doing his homework. Do you think we should try talking to his teacher? Do you think we should help him more with his homework? I heard that if we praise him specifically for the work that he does well that can help him. Does that sound right to you?”
It might sound phony, but it is more respectful. I have learned that my husband is really receptive to my ideas if I let him have his say, sincerely without an ulterior motive and agenda. I have also discovered that we need a guy’s opinion. They love their kids too and have some great ideas on what works. We need to just really listen to what they have to say.
3. If all else fails, talk about yourself:
If you find that you are disagreeing a lot about parenting, you again want to have your discussions when you are both calm, in private (as I mentioned above) do not accuse and use “I” statements:
“When roughhousing starts before bedtime I get really annoyed. Can we talk about this?”
“I am kind of frustrated about what happened today. I told Sam that he could not go to Sara’s house. He told me that you said he could go. Can we discuss this so we can get on the same page?”
“I am not sure if you will agree with me, but I feel that sometimes Mikey’s feelings get hurt when you mention that he is not great at sports. Do you sense that too?”
When you start your conversation with neutral language, and “I” statements, you have a better chance of avoiding arguments and coming up with positive solutions on how to work together.
Adina Soclof is the Director of Parent Outreach for A+ Solutions, facilitating “How to Talk so Kids will Listen and Listen so Kids will Talk” workshops as well as workshops based on “Siblings Without Rivalry.” Adina also runs ParentingSimply.com and is available for speaking engagements. You can reach her and check out her website at www.parentingsimply.com
The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.