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Three Ways to Parent Together {He Said}

3 Ways to Parent Together

Divorce was not an option. At least, that is what she would have said twelve years ago. With several children, and a miserable marriage in her past, she was not even willing to entertain the thought. This marriage would not only be different, it would be better.

And then it happened. Not all at once of course, but over the course of weeks, months, and then years. The conflict, while small at first, escalated with time, growing into a question she swore she would never ask again – “Do I stay or do I leave?” What had been unmentionable had now become seemingly unavoidable.

You might be surprised at the cause. It wasn’t financial friction that was tearing them apart. It wasn’t the seduction of another lover. It wasn’t her husband’s work, their different interests, or conflicting communication. It was something far less likely – it was their kids.

For several years, this couple tried to ignore what was becoming glaringly obvious – their parenting styles, philosophies, and priorities were pulling them apart. This isn’t true for every couple, but the sad reality is that for many, parenting can be a huge source of marital strife, and in worse case scenarios, separation.

By God’s grace, this couple made it. As a pastor, I love to see the gospel restore broken and hurting relationships. My heart grieves when sin wins the day. As a husband, and father of four children, I understand how easy it is for a couple to go amiss when kids come along. Let’s be honest, marriage can be hard enough. And when kids arrive? Marriage can be even harder.  Parenting can either draw a couple together or drive them further apart.

Have you felt this challenge? Ever found yourself in a disagreement with your spouse while you were trying to discipline your child? If yes, you are not alone! While not exhaustive, the following are some practical ways to help you as a couple align your parenting so that you are working with, and not against, one another.

Decide to parent together – Parenting is not just a woman’s responsibility. The Bible instructs a father and mother to be actively involved in raising children (Exodus 20:12; Proverbs 6:20; Ephesians 6:4; Colossians 3:21). A lot of men think protecting their wife means locking the doors, loading their gun, and hitting the gym. If you are reading this as a dad, one of the ways you can protect your wife is by helping her carry the heavy responsibility of parenting. God commands you to spiritually lead your family. Don’t let your wife become weary by parenting alone! Share with her in the joy and struggle of raising your children.

Envision the same goal – Vision is your ability to see clearly. Many couples struggle with parental blindness. They don’t have a clear picture, goal, or desired outcome for their parenting. As a result, they might be moving in different directions. In some cases, it’s the wrong picture all together. The good news is that God’s Word doesn’t leave us in the dark. Every Christian parent should have a vision to pass on faith(fullness) to their children (Deuteronomy 6:4-9; Ephesians 6:4). Make sure both of you are on the same page when it comes to what you are envisioning for your children. Do you both share in the goal of raising children who, by God’s grace, will leave your home some day to love Jesus and love the world? Do you have competing visions? What is your greatest ambition for your kids? Regardless of their occupation, who do you want them to be?  Write it down, together. Make it a vision you see frequently as a reminder of what God has called you to work toward together.

Learn to say NO – Many couples find friction creeping in when they are over-committed. If you don’t have clarity on your vision, you will likely say yes to a lot of opportunities. The myth that our culture is selling, and many Christians are buying, is that our kids have to be involved in everything. Busyness has become a sly and deceitful intruder to the family. While there is nothing wrong with being involved with sports or extra-curricular activities, a couple needs to learn how to protect what is most important. When you have clarity on what is most important, you will have conviction to say no to everything that is less important. Take some time as a couple and write down what is most important to you as a family. Identifying these values (God time, eating together, serving, etc.) will help you know when you should say yes, and when you should say no.

Raising kids isn’t easy. You certainly don’t want to be doing while at odds with your spouse! I love John’s words in 3 John 1:4. He writes, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” While he wrote these words to the church, they are fitting words for our families. May that goal and ambition align you as a couple to parent together – pulling you closer to one another, and ultimately, closer to the heart of God.

Patrick Schwenk

This post is part our He Said/She Said series, where we’ll get to peek at one topic from two points of view: both the husband’s perspective and the wife’s. We’ll be running it for the next five weeks, on Wednesdays (where you’ll read about what “she said” on a topic) and Thursdays (where you’ll read about what “he said” on a topic).

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  1. We have a “blended” family and struggle with parenting my two teens. My husbands youngest graduated high school last year and doesn’t live with us. Our only arguments are about my kids. We have been married for almost 3 years now and things are great except when it comes to disciplining the kids. We have much different parenting styles which is difficult, and being “blended” makes it that much more difficult.

  2. My husband and I have been married for 1 year, and all our fighting involves our children. We have a “blended family”. My 2 young kids live with us, while his teenage son only visits for a few weeks during the year. Everything else about our relationship is going well, we just have completely different parenting styles and it is so hard to work together on discipline that we both agree is fair.

  3. This article has some great suggestions, however, for me, it is difficult to find marital or parental suggestions for believers who are married to unbelievers. It is very difficult when the gospel is an area of division, not cohesion.

    1. Check out “winning him without words”, pray, live it, do what God wants you to do, if God will change his heart it will be so. Ask him to church, but don’t get mad or act better if he doesn’t get it yet. I will pray for you, I know how hard that must be, I have 3 teens/preteens and myou husband was saved but not growing, is only just now starting to get it. Sometimes it takes time, but trust I’m God, He can fill in the blanks wherever either of you drop the ball. No one is a perfect parent except Him.

  4. Great article Pat. It hits home for me. Amy and I both come from a blended family and almost became one as a parent due to this issue along with a few others. Amy and I were considering separation but wanted to become on the same page to continue raising our 2 children at the time. We joined a parenting class that changed our life which I am so thankful for. Week one lesson: You can not parent effectively together if you aren’t together in all areas. Period. That was a tough one to swallow. From there we learned about our baggage from each other’s blended upbringings and what we needed to do in order to be on the same page and beat the cycle. In my opinion whether blended or first time marriage the key is to be connected and on the same page.
    Amy and I continue to take classes to enhance our marriage and commitment to each other. I encourage all families to do the same. One class that still hits home with me is Love and Respect. I learned so much about the differences a man and women enter the thought process on topics. Example: I have nothing to wear. Men and women have the same thought on this right? Wrong!!! For men it means I can’t find anything clean to wear holes and all. For women it means I need a new outfit to wear. Amy and I laugh when we hear something a different way. I joke all the time about giving me a moment to change my blue hearing aid for the pink one! If you don’t know what I mean, I challenge you to take the class! Men need to be respected and women need to feel loved in many ways 🙂 I will end this short article by saying Amy and I are more blessed and happy today because God became the center of our relationship and we continue to make God and each other top priority!

    Blessings to all,

  5. Wow! We just had an argument this am before work on this very subject! I expressed to my friend how exhausting it is. When it’s just the two of us, things are pretty good, enter the kids and it gets explosive. On paper we agreed, in real application, we do not…

  6. My husband and I have been raising my grandsons for the past 10 years. I have been the main person responsible for the raising and care of them, since my husbands work takes him out of the home two week out of a month. We do not have the same parenting styles and it has caused resentments to build between us. The boys are 18 and 17, in the past year the youngest has made some extremely bad choices and has been in trouble legally, which has created even more strife. I did all I could, with professional help to guide him to the right path, with no real support from my husband but plenty of criticism on what I should have done or him attempting to step in and it ending up in a all out argument between him and my grandson. I put rules and consequences in place for the home and enforced to the best of my ability. Most of the rules have been followed but one that was the most important..youngest grandson broke twice and I had warned him if he broke it again after the first time, he would have to leave. Which he did after the second time..he went to his mother’s home. Now we have one left at home and my husband resents my doing anything for him..I know that the resentment comes from my husband feeling disrespected because I haven’t adopted his way of parenting, which would be very authoritative. I avoid getting into any discussion about my grandson, with my husband because it just ends up with him being critical of me or him getting angry at my grandson…creating more strife. I respect and appreciate all that my husband has done over the years in providing for the boys and have told him so and show him in every way possible…but I still hear and feel his resentment. Any time I have tried to attempt some collaboration from him to try to get us on a middle ground it has always ended up in an argument, so I just am dealing with issues with the eldest grandson alone…he will be graduating this year and hopefully will be attending a school in another city and will be able to start his own life. We will continue to support financially to an extent but he will then have to apply what I have tried to instill in him. The youngest grandson, seems to be doing ok with his mother, in a home school program to pursue his diploma and continue with his life…I am supportive to him to an extent..there is no financial help from us…he has been considered eligible for SSI due to some conditions he has and it provides for necessities. I wished we were able to agree enough to get help to find a way to raising them so it wouldn’t have bread so much resentment between my husband and myself. I don’t know what will hold us together after this last one is on his own?

  7. So sorry for what you are going through, sounds difficult to say the least, I worry so much about my children all nearing adulthood, you have to pray you did your best and God will fill in where either of you failed. But sometimes it takes mistakes, they may need to feel real life consequences to get right with Him and move toward a place of peace and fellowship with Him. Sounds like you and your husband could also use some of that. Have you ever tried a “weekend to remember” by family life, they are incredible! Further counseling would be also good, but these are a wonderful start to get hearts motivated for change in the right direction. Prayers for you. Keep praying.

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