I have friends who swear they never had a single argument until they had kids.
Now, they’re constantly at loggerheads over parenting issues. According to a US survey, here are the main subjects parents disagree on.
He thinks the kids should be punished for terrible table manners and answering back, while you tend to turn a blind eye to what you consider minor misbehaviour.
Deciding what to discipline your kids for, and how to do it, can be a major point of difference between some couples – and often relates to how they were raised themselves. How you deal with discipline should be discussed when the kids are not around, and you’re both feeling calm.
You can’t help sniping about the way he changes nappies, while he’s critical of you for catering to the child who is a fussy eater. It’s time to face facts – you’re different people, and you do things differently. Unless the way your other half does something poses health or safety risks, maybe you should consider biting your tongue.
Huge resentment can build up if one partner feels the other isn’t pulling their weight. Often it is the woman who feels they end up doing the bulk of the housework, as well as the child raising – including getting up in the night or staying off work to look after sick kids – and this can lead to tension. Devising a roster is sometimes the best way to deal with this problem.
You’re grateful your mum comes over and offers advice on raising your family, but he thinks she’s an interfering old bag.
There can be a fine line between grandparents being welcome, and sticking their oars in where they’re not wanted. It gets especially tricky if one partner feels the in-laws – or even their own parents – have too much influence, or doesn’t agree with their child-rearing ideas. You may need to diplomatically let grandparents know, ”This is the way we have decided to do things in our family.”
The fact he still gets to play golf, or go for drinks after work with his mates, drives you mad, while he gets annoyed when you “pop out” to the shops and arrive home hours later, or lock yourself in the bathroom to enjoy a soak in the bath.
Having “me” time is crucial when you’re a parent, or it can all become too much – and you should be sensitive towards each other’s needs to still do some of the things you enjoyed before the kids came along. Sit down and agree some guidelines about the amount of time you get to spend doing your own thing.
Resolve the issues
If there is a specific bugbear that has you constantly at each other’s throats, it is a good idea to work hard at resolving it – not just for the sake of your marriage, but also for your kids’ wellbeing.
Research shows that constantly witnessing parents arguing can have long-term effects on children. One French study found that youngsters who regularly saw parents fighting were more likely to have mental illnesses when they were adults.
Contact the Citizen’s Advice Bureau for details of counselling organisations, or check out the directory on familyservices.govt.nz.