5 Tips for When You Undermine Your Spouse’s Parenting

Parents Unite - This post offers 5 tips for uniting with your spouse on parenting in the messy moments of motherhood. #messymotherhood #parentingconflicts #parenting #unitedfront #springcleaning #marriage #messymarriage

I’m excited to continue my “Spring Clean Your Marriage” Series with my next guest blogger, Aimee Imbeau. See her bio below to find the link to her site and, then be sure to connect with her on social media as well.

I had a choice to make…and only moments in which to make the best decision for what just went down. The way my husband dealt with one of the kids left me upset and unhappy. I did not like it one bit. 

I could either tell him exactly how his parenting strategy was wrong right there in front of the kids and extended family. Or I could bite my tongue and discuss it with him in private. 

Parents Unite - This post offers 5 tips for uniting with your spouse on parenting in the messy moments of motherhood. #messymotherhood #parentingconflicts #parenting #unitedfront #springcleaning #marriage #messymarriage

More than 10 years have passed since that moment. And while I still don’t agree with how he handled the situation (hey, we can’t all be perfect parents, right?), I am confident that I made the correct decision in biting my tongue and waiting to discuss the matter when we were alone instead of challenging him in the moment.

When you undermine your spouse’s parenting, a whole host of problems can begin to develop, and it is a messy mothering method for sure!

If I had confronted my husband in front of the kids and extended family that day, the door to confession and repentance likely would have been closed. He would have shut down, refusing to discuss the situation in a productive manner. He would have been embarrassed and humiliated. And the opportunity for growth as a parent would be missed.

You see, while I was quite upset about what had transpired, I am so glad I waited until later to discuss the problem. My husband was calmer and more open to hearing what I needed to say. He was also ready to apologize for his behavior to our child – which is huge in parenting. 

If I had called him out in the heat of the moment, his strong-will would have taken over and there likely would not have been an apology. While the issue started out unpleasantly, it ended with a stronger bond between daddy and son. And our son has had no adverse effects from the situation. 

If I am honest, I can’t type away here pretending to never have undermined my husband’s parenting.

That would be a lie. Because I have done that.

I have openly challenged his parenting decisions in the past. I am sure most of us have done so to some degree. And when that happens, we need to own up to it and apologize to our spouse. Then we need to be intentional to not do it again.

Messy Bonding

One of the biggest problems that come out of undermining your spouse’s parenting is that children miss out on having a beautiful bond with both parents.

Eventually, they may view your spouse as a deeply flawed person (they have no clue how to parent correctly, right? You are the one who knows best, right?) instead of seeing both parents as equals who are devoted to caring for and nurturing them.  

Messy Manipulation

Another serious problem that can occur is that children will learn to manipulate their parents to get what they want.

Kids will sense that you are on their side and the other parent is not. In essence, you are pitting your children against your spouse, and that is not healthy.

They will begin to view you as ‘good cop‘ and your spouse as ‘bad cop’, enabling them to manipulate to their heart’s delight.  

Messy Marriage

And let’s not forget the effects that undermining your spouse’s parenting will have on your marriage. It’s easy for bitterness to creep into a marriage when you feel like your spouse is critical of everything you say and do.  

Is There Any Hope?

Thankfully, there is hope to overcome this problem. It will require a lot of work and a whole lot more grace and forgiveness. But it is possible.

Here are a few tips to help you get back on track …

1. Two Parents, One Team

First of all, you both need to realize you are on the same team. You aren’t fighting against each other. You are supposed to be fighting together to raise children who love the Lord and follow after Him. Children who will live their lives for God totally sold out for Him. 

That is the main goal in Christian parenting, isn’t it? To have kids who love the Lord with all their hearts, minds, soul, and strength – right? 

When my husband and I disagree on a parenting issue, we simply come back to this goal. It helps keep us grounded and working as a team. And besides, when the kids are grown and gone, who will be left?

My spouse.

[bctt tweet=”Reflecting on this truth helps me keep parenting in perspective. Find out what it is at Messy Marriage today! @AimeeImbeau #SpringCleanYourMarriage #parentasateam” username=”BethSteffaniak”]  

2. Biblical Application

A Scripture passage that comes to mind often when we discuss our parenting strategies is Ephesians 6:1-4:

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.” And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord. (NKJV)

This passage reminds us that we are a team as we endeavor to cultivate obedient children. Our children are called to obey and honor both parents, not just one.

We must make it easy for our children to honor and obey, and being united in how we discipline and parent is key to helping our kids do so. 

When kids are divided between parents, it is clear that it is not ‘going well’ for them. On the other hand, when kids see parents as a united front, they are much more content and the family is more stable. 

When parents are fighting for the ‘top dog’ position in parenting practices, it can lead to ‘provoking our children to wrath’.

[bctt tweet=”Our kids need the stability of peace and harmony in the family in order to thrive. And that begins with us, the parents. @AimeeImbeau #messymotherhood #positiveparentingpractices” username=”BethSteffaniak”]

And the last part of this passage is a great reminder of our goal as parents, to bring our kids up in the training (nurturing) and admonition of the Lord.

I love looking up words in the interlinear because it gives me a better understanding of what I’m reading. Here is what I found for ‘training’: Training also means chastening, nurture, instruction. 

The Outline of Biblical Usage says this about the word …

“The whole training and education of children (which relates to the cultivation of mind and morals, and employs for this purpose now commands and admonitions, now reproof and punishment) It also includes the training and care of the body.”

3. A Few Rules

What are some ‘must-have’ rules?

I’m not a big fan of a bunch of rules in a family. I believe that too many rules cause bondage and fear. But there does need to be some basic ground rules when it comes to cultivating a healthy family.

For example, one rule we have in our family is that we will talk respectfully to each other (uhh…I’ve broken that rule on occasion…just sayin’).

My kids know that they are allowed to disagree with me on anything, but they must show respect while voicing their opinions.

Come up with 2-3 rules that are definite for you. Ask your spouse to do the same. Then compare lists.

Can you agree to support each other on these rules?  

4. Have Your Spouse’s Back

Backing up your spouse in front of the kids regardless of whether or not you agree with them shows your kids that both of you are in charge instead of no one. Even if you don’t agree with your spouse, your unity will promote peace and harmony in the home.  

5. Pray

Lastly, pray. 

Pray with your spouse and ask for the Holy Spirit’s guidance in your parenting. Pray on your own for yourself and your spouse. And, of course, pray with your children

Never cease praying for your parenting – the best parenting advice I’ve ever received was from the Lord as I sought Him on issues our family was dealing with. 

Messy Mothering Methods such as “When You Undermine Your Spouse’s Parenting” creates fertile ground for bitterness and animosity to grow in the family. But hope is not lost.

With the help of our Heavenly Father, we can change and become united with our spouse. 

 

Aimee is a home educating support teacher who lives in the sunny Okanagan, BC. Aimee has been blissfully married since 1998 and she still swoons at the sight of her tall, dark and handsome husband, Marcus. When she isn’t home educating her 3 kids, she enjoys sewing, quilting, scrapbooking, baking, writing and hanging out with her family. Aimee is a certified teacher who works from home, supporting and encouraging homeschool families. She blogs at A Work of Grace and you can find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

Spring Clean Marriage - This blog series includes eight amazing Christian bloggers who know just how to spring clean your life and marriage! This week is spring cleaning tips! #springclean #messymarriage #marriage #springcleaningmarriage #improvemarriage #lessonslearnedinmarriage

Be sure to join me next week in the Spring Clean Your Marriage” series, when I’ll be sharing how to clean up a disrespectful attitude towards your mate, as well as how to avoid it moving forward. I hope to see you then!

 

Which tip mentioned above will you commit to working on in order to begin spring cleaning your marriage?

 

When have you violated this important principle for parenting and how did it go for you?

 


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24 responses to “5 Tips for When You Undermine Your Spouse’s Parenting”

  1. “One of the biggest problems that come out of undermining your spouse’s parenting is that children miss out on having a beautiful bond with both parents.” That’s so true, Beth. Of course I always thought MY solutions were the right ones. ha. But I’ve learned a lot about parenting (and life!) by watching my husband be the father to our girls. It’s enriching that we don’t all do it the same.

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    1. I think most moms believe our way is the best way. We want to nurture and care for our children. ANd that can get in the way of our husbands displaying care in their own, masculine ways. For my girls, it’s important for them to experience that masculine care so they understand that men can, and should, be caring. Thanks for stopping by, Lisa!

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  2. It is so easy to undermine our spouses (and as I was reading this, I was thinking of our children, undermining them in front of their siblings or friends). But it backfires and creates havoc. I love tip one, and it is the one I remind myself when we are not seeing eye to eye. I have also learned that my way is not the only way. There are so many ways to approach a situation or raise a child. And children benefit from different approaches.

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    1. Oh, undermining kids in front of their sibling and friends…that’s not something I’ve thought about before, Theresa – but so important to avoid as well! I appreciate that my way isn’t the only as well. Often, when I am being ‘too hard’, my husband will remind me of what’s most important. And I’ll do the same for him when he is exasperating the kids. But we do this privately. I think that builds trust and confidence between husband and wife, too.

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  3. Hi, Aimee, thank you for this wisdom. It’s so subtle, isn’t it–all the ways in which we undermine one another and mar the beautiful picture that marriage provides of our loving Savior with a beautiful bride.
    I appreciate this series, Beth, and all your good work!

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    1. I agree, Michele! If undermining each other was clear and obvious, it probably wouldn’t become an issue. But it slips in bit by bit, like most issues in marriage. My husband and I like to have coffee dates where we discuss any issues that have crept up in marriage – and this has been a topic of discussion in the past! Coffee dates are a great way to talk about things like this.

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  4. So good to see you this space Aimee! And your advice is spot-on (as always!)

    It is so important to show respect by how we talk about and treat our spouse in public. It makes a world of difference!

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    1. Becky! I am deeply humbled that you would say my advice is spot on ‘as always’. Thank you for your edification and encouragement. However, it’s easier to give advice than it is to live it out. I need the reminder just as much – if not more – than anyone else!
      And, yes, how we talk about our spouse – and even think about our spouse – is critical. What we end up saying always starts with our thought patterns,
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Becky!

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  5. I definitely need to make sure I am putting these in place consistently. I know I let my emotions get the best of me sometimes. Thank you for sharing all of these wonderful things for me to keep in mind as I interact with my children from day to day. I think I need to work on the respectful tone as a household. Hopefully, I can talk to my husband about 2 or 3 non-negotiables tonight.

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    1. Thank you for your honesty, Brittany. I know firsthand that if we refuse to acknowledge the areas we need to work on, then issues likely won’t get resolved. You are right, respect needs to be the tone of a godly home – for all and to all – including parents to kids. I hope and pray that you were able to have that talk with your hubby!

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  6. Great tips, Aimee. This stepped on my toes in a good way because I needed the reminder. Our kids are grown, but recently I was tempted to undermine my husband’s grand-parenting skills. I’m learning we are on the same team and to privately discuss any concerns. Choosing my husband over being “right” not only helps build trust and teamwork in my marriage, but also in our entire family. Thank you!

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    1. I never thought about taking this into grand-parenting, Karen, but it does make sense! I can imagine that choosing your husband over being right will have a huge impact on the relationship you have with your adult children (parents of the grandchildren). One thing I’ve experienced is grandparents undermining their adult children when it comes to parenting. So, I can see how this can relate to so many aspects of family life. Thanks for reading and commenting!

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  7. This is great strategy for avoiding undermining each other’s parenting. I try not to interfere, but I occasionally have gotten in the middle, particularly when it’s hunger or exhaustion causing the problem. Doesn’t matter the age, both can really make people unreasonable!

    I need to sit down with my husband and talk about simplifying and picking our top 3 rules!

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    1. Oh, I hear you, Aryn about hunger and exhaustion causing problems regardless of the age! When I’m hungry, my blood sugars get low and I am incredibly irritable – the solution is to eat instead of reacting to others – and it is preventable… And when I’m tired, I get irritable, too. These are certainly not problems just for children! But we ought to be able to solve those problems for ourselves better than children – doesn’t always happen for me, though.

      When those circumstances arise where I see that the kids were hungry, exhausted, or some other issue is going on that is contributing to problems, I’d bring them up to my husband later on in just a general discussion. Like, “Have you noticed that when _____ is overtired, he has more frequent meltdowns? Can we come up with a plan to help me deal with that?” Then, together, you are coming up with a plan to use when things start to get out of hand in a non-confrontational way.

      Thanks for reading and commenting, Aryn!

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  8. Wow, I really needed to hear this today! I am sooo guilty of taking charge and leaving my husband in the dust. The way you pointed out what happens to the family when we do this is eye-opening. I have some changes to make. Thank you for your godly admonition!

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    1. Oh, Sarah – I so appreciate your humble heart and teachable spirit! Owning our behavior is absolutely critical for establishing and maintaining a healthy marriage and family. I pray God will give you the courage and strength to make the changes you need to make. Discussing these issues with your husband will help to keep you accountable and will build trust in your marriage. Ask him to pray for you through this as well. Ask him to gently remind you when you slip into old patterns. Those kinds of things are so good for a marriage! You could even come up with a silly code word;). God will bless and honor your humbleness. I pray you see the fruit quickly.

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  9. This is such a wisdom-packed post! We’re reaching the phase of our parenting where our different ideas about directing, guiding, and shaping behavior are really coming out, and it can be hard not to call each other out in the moment. Thank you for this truth today!

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    1. It really can be hard to not call each other out in the heat of the moment. But so good to recognize this since it helps to keep us in check. I pray that you and your husband come together in unity in your parenting. Thanks for reading and commenting, Stacey.

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  10. ah yes, been there, done that all those years ago.

    thankfully, there is grace and forgiveness … and the good memories outweigh the bad.

    all grace!

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    1. I am so thankful for grace, too, Linda! Marriage is the main area where we can offer each other grace upon grace.

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  11. I really like the few rules suggestion. I agree with that!! All of this is such great guidance. The area of us always responding respectfully to each other is one that I am in a constant battle with. I can speak my mind to much but I am striving to getting better in this area.

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    1. Thanks, April. I’m glad the ‘few rules’ part resonated with you. We all could use some improvement in a certain area…or many areas for most of us. I think the first step is recognizing it and taking responsibility for it. We can’t move forward if we refuse to acknowledge where we are slipping up, right. I pray that God will give you wisdom in your words when you speak them.

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  12. Thank you for your wisdom, Aimee. Standing on the same side as your souse when parenting makes all the difference.

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    1. It sure does, Mary! And it helps us be on the same side in other areas outside of our immediate family – like having each other back. It builds great confidence in each other.

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