Are you on the same page?


Are you and your spouse reading from the same playbook when it comes to parenting your child? Perhaps you discussed your parenting ideals even before you married. Or did you have a child, wait for problems to creep up and then start thinking about how you want to parent? Or worse, have you still not come up with a plan?

If you’re reading this blog, my guess is that the latter doesn’t apply. But how much of a planner are you? And do you discuss it all with your spouse? Does he or she agree with you?

There’s nothing like differing parenting styles to throw a wrench into the marriage. If one parent is a super-strict, legalistic parent who doesn’t know the meaning of the word “childishness” and the other is a permissive conflict-avoider, there are bound to be a few arguments. Even if one parent provides the majority of the child care duties, the child is half of each of you, so you each have equal rights in deciding how to raise the child.

The only problem is that this is confusing to the child. Even a toddler is keen enough to realize that you don’t provide a united front. As this child ages, he’ll know to ask permissive dad for anything that strict mom might say “no” to. And while conflict-avoider dad might have an easier time saying “yes” to everything, he won’t know what to do when the child refuses to comply with a simple request. Permissiveness is all well and good — until we have to ask the child to do something he doesn’t want to do (to say nothing of the long-term ramifications).

The ultimate — and potentially most damaging — ramification of differing parenting styles is the judgment that can creep into the marriage. When two parents don’t agree on how to parent, mom or dad will start to feel protective of the child and the judgment takes over. Instead of mom and dad standing together, one parent stands with the child against the other parent. Not good.

So what do you do if you find yourself in this position? Leave the judgment on the table and talk it out. Have an open conversation where nobody’s ideas are shot down. Come up with some real-life examples of troublesome behaviors and discuss how you each parented and the results you each achieved. Then meet in the middle. It might even help to take a parenting class or two and read some parenting books. Go to a bookstore and you each choose the book that appeals to you most. Then have the other parent read that book. Glean a few ideas from each book and come up with your middle-of-the-road plan.

No matter how you approach it, being on the same parenting page is good for your marriage and for your child. Creating that page and sticking to it will be well worth the time and effort you put into it. You’ll trade conflict and judgment for peace, harmony and a compliant child!


  1. Stephanie says:

    Muareen –
    First, I love your blog. Its full of helpful reminders for this parenting journey. I am wondering if you could offer some insight. I am struggling with toy pick up time after IPT. My daughter (who is just a couple weeks from three) will sometimes take 1 hour to 1 1/2 to pick up her toys after her IPT (which she has in her room). I limit the toys she can have (to about three or four things..examples: a few baby dolls, books, and a few cars and maybe her small princess house). When her timer goes off she is great about turning the timer off and starting to pick up the toys. She is just EXTREMELY slow in the process…stops and plays some more…picks up, plays some more. Her little brother (a year old) sleeps during this time in the morning. I would love to be able to utilize this time with her to have one on one activities (which is her love language) but by the time her IPT is over AND she has picked up all her toys, its lunch time and baby brother is awake. I would love any insight you have, tips you have found to work. Nothing I do motivates her to move quicker. I have walked through with her what moving “quicker” looks like and had her practice several times…I have tried removing privileges and other things all in attempts to get her to stay focused and not take so long…oh boy am I ever frustrated. Do I need to stand over her (which I know she can pick up everything and do it quickly because on occasion she has) or limit her toys even further during IPT? Just totally at a lost!

  2. Hi Stephanie. You don’t say how old she is, but I have a couple ideas. First, she might be more motivated to clean up if her love language needs are being met. So you might have your one-on-one time before IPT. Or have your one-on-one time (even just a few minutes) after her timer beeps but before she cleans up. So you would just go in and play with her for a few minutes before she cleans up.

    Also think about a reward system. I’m using a timer for homeschool purposes, and we have a marble jar. When it’s full we go out for frozen yogurt. Well, I assign a time limit to a particular school activity, and if they beat the timer, I put a marble per minute left on the timer. Yesterday, I gave my oldest 30 minutes to do his journal. He did it quickly and got 13 marbles in the jar! If you do this, be sure to use a small jar. And gush with praise and excitement any time she gets a ton of marbles.

    You wouldn’t have to do this long term. It’s just until she develops a new habit, which shouldn’t take too long. We’ve been using the timer for 3 days, and I’m already seeing huge improvements.

    Oh, and give her techniques about how to clean up. Have her stand back, look at all of the toys, and make piles. Whichever toy she sees the most of gets put into one pile and so on. Break it down for her and encourage her.

    Also, the Ezzos talk about “3 candy speed” if you want to look it up in your book. It addresses this very issue of working too slowly.

  3. Stephanie says:

    Thanks for the tips. I like the marble jar idea and she is easily motivated by several type of things. She is just about to turn three. And the love language is also a good reminder and now that I think about it on the mornings she has had one on one time before her IPT she seems to be more motivated to pick up…never really realized that connection. Again, thanks for your blog! Its incredibly helpful reminders of the Ezzo material (since there is so much there) to keep in mind during these toddler years.

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