A United Front
Guy meets girl, girl meets guy…guy and girl fall in love. She loves his assertiveness and humor. He loves her organization and take-charge attitude. On a beautiful spring day, they exchange “I do” in front of a host of family and friends. Everyone is in awe of their love. Everyone agrees they are the perfect fit.
Year one into the marriage brings about unbridled passion and love. Adjusting to marriage is challenging. She barks at him when he jokes around during serious talks. He growls at her when she reorganizes his things without permission. The things they once loved about each other, they now despise. Neon lights are illuminating the flaws in this once perfect union.
In the midst of this, they become pregnant. This pregnancy shifts the complaints and arguments back to the euphoric, “I love you unconditionally.” Everything she does once again is valued because her organization and take-charge attitude helps prepare the nursery, stay on top of doctor appointments, as well as gorging on fruits and vegetables to ensure the baby comes into this world happy and healthy.
His assertiveness ensures the family has the doctor of their choice. His laughter helps her ignore those extra 20+ pounds gained during the pregnancy. The balance of humor and assertiveness gets her through labor.
A beautiful baby is born! Everyone dotes over little Timmy (a fictional character). He is the most beautiful thing granted on this side of heaven and you both devote your life to making his life amazing!
Somewhere along amazing, beautiful, and euphoric, reality sets in once again. Your Mr. Wonderful is no longer funny and his assertive behavior is interpreted as controlling. Your organization and take-charge attitude is now perceived as manipulative and controlling. You find yourselves bumping heads over EVERYTHING! Once peaceful family meetings now turn into full out wages of war against each another.
Little Timmy is watching this unfold before his eyes. Confusion between the duo is wreaking havoc on Timmy’s growth and development. Fortunately, little Timmy is meeting all developmental milestones, but socially, he tends to fight with friends on the playground, expresses disdain for friends who don’t want to play his game of choice, and he seems to go to dad for treats and toys and to mom for new clothes and activities.
“Yes” that should be “no” occurs a bit too often. It is getting out of hand because Timmy is learning how to manipulate his parents. The unestablished united front is yielding serious consequences on this family.
World changers, while this may not be your specific scenario, there is something within this story that is occurring all too often. The avoidance of establishing a united front within the home is causing confusion.
When our sugars come on the scene, both parents bring something to the table that the other cannot achieve. It is that very thing that attracted you to your parenting partner. However, somewhere along the way, that initial quality that caused your heart to spark became the very thing you eventually despised or had to learn how to live with.
We enter into unions with our mates, and honestly, I believe we enter into these unions with pure intentions. No one ever tells us that entering into these unions means that two people who grew up in two different families, and two different homes are now coming together to create their own value system. We even bring habits into our new family that may not be the healthiest. These habits, if not properly evaluated can have terrible consequences for all parties involved.
Now, I am not saying that everything learned from home is bad. What I am saying is that it is important that we analyze what we are bringing to the table and if this is something we want to continue to pass on. And please know that not one party is responsible for ridding themselves of behavior learned from home. Both parties in the marriage have something they will have to work towards that has no place in your new union.
If you are still reading, you may ask yourself “why?” “Why should I have to make character changes or reflect on who I am? What does this have to do with my parenting?”
Well, it is simple. If we are unwilling to change anything that is not a great fit for our family, we risk creating power struggles with our mate. When power struggles take over, we no longer make great decisions for the good of our family. We eliminate the selfless attitude that is required in a marriage and become selfish. Our motives and desires become the number one priority. No longer are we looking out for the good of our family, we are looking at “how can I get my way?”
This pours over into the rearing of our children. If we are persistent in driving our motives and getting what we want, our children begin to suffer. Without even thinking about it, our children can become pawns in our chess game. If your united front is not established with your spouse, it is impossible to make joint decisions for your sugar. In fact, that is when the approvals start flying through the roof without joint approval. That’s when little things that seem harmless (like one parent sneaking in sweets before dinner without telling the other parent) become big things over time.
The resentment, anger and discord only grows stronger when overtime parents refuse to get on the same page. It grieves my heart when families come into my office with motives that are clearly for their own benefit only to hurt the other parent. The child is the one who suffers and what is worse, the child learns this behavior and passes it on to the next generation.
World changers, we have to do better than this. Choosing a partner for life has to be more than about a biological clock, or something to check off the list of things to do. Bringing a new sugar in the world is the most magical thing you can do. However, if you and your parenting partner are not on the same page about the little things, than how in the world are you going to make major decisions together?
By no means am I saying, avoid marriage and children. I am actually saying the opposite. I am saying, please be extremely intentional before you say “I do.” Have the tough conversations before walking down that aisle. And if you already said “I do,” start having those tough conversations right now before little sugars come into the scene. And if little sugars are already around, still sit down and have that real conversation. Work on yourselves apart from the kids, so in return, you can work together in unity to avoid being played against one another.
I know this is a touchy topic, but I had to say it. We have to stop pretending that buying or working can shape character in our sugars lives. We have to put in the work together with our parenting partners to be the best that we can be for ourselves, as well as for our love ones.
Before I wrap up, there are a few tips I want to leave you with:
First: All adults should keep at the forefront of their mind is that everyone mutually loves the sugar(s) and have their best interest at heart. Remember, we are uniting not just for the sake of peace, but also for the sake of your sugars future. How you work together to shape it all depends on your willingness to understand that we may do things differently, but we all have a map that we are following to help our sugars realize their future.
Second: All adults need to forgive each other for whatever was done accidentally or purposefully. It is difficult to move forward if anyone is holding on to something that occurred weeks, months, or years ago.
Third: In order for all adults to move forward, you must forgive each other. You have to be convinced that your parenting partner is not your enemy (now if there are safety or domestic concerns, that is different. I strongly urge you to get yourself and your sugar(s) safe).
Fourth: Be willing to be open and honest. Bring your values, hopes and dreams for your sugar(s) to the table. (Remember, we did this exercise in my first blog. If you have not read it, go check it out. It truly helps.) Understanding where you are, what you are doing, and why you are doing it truly helps your parenting partner understand your perspective. This is not a time to flex, “because I said so.”
Fifth: Accept you will have to compromise. No good deal goes through without a bit of compromising on all parties parts. No parent should control EVERYTHING. There has to be some type of balance. Remember, you both have something valuable to sow into your sugars lives. I even had to compromise the amount of junk food my sugars get.
Sixth: This will be ongoing. Continually coming to the table to unite takes time, energy and effort. However, over time, it becomes natural because the communication lines are open and everyone knows what the other party values.
Finally: Show yourselves grace through this process. This shift in thinking is a task, but it is totally worth it. Uniting together will be a clear demonstration of collaboration, compromise, teamwork, conflict resolution, and love. Even if you are not in a relationship with your parenting partner, these tools can be applied peacefully and amicably.
World changing is not simple, I never promised that. It takes work, passion, and determination to go against the grain. Please know that I believe in you. I believe in this process and I believe that we can continue to tweak simple things in order to optimize our quality of life as well as our sugars quality of life.
Until the next time world changers, Take Care. C