Getting Dad on the Same Page
Are you and dad on the same page concerning your daughter?
Do you back each other up? Are you a united front? Do you have each other’s back?
…or do you feel he’s fighting against you?
Do you feel criticized, blamed, and misunderstood? Do you think he’s clueless and you have to work around him? Do you think of him as another child to manage?
If you want to Power Your Parenting you need to get your partner on board, if you don’t, both of you will be disempowered, and your daughter will become a full fledged drama queen leaving you her servants.
7 Ways to Get Dad on the Same Page
1. Make sure you’re both calm
Your daughter’s drama is contagious and can spread like wildfire through the house. Before you know it you and your partner are at each other’s throats. The drama storm kicks up a lot of smoke and chaos. It’s hard to see clearly. Blame and angry words gets thrown between you and your partner like hand grenades, while your daughter sneaks out the back door.
This is not a good time to talk to your partner, because both of you are emotionally flooded.
You are limbic time bombs.
The first step to getting your partner on board, is communicating when both of you are calm.
When both of you are relaxed, you bring your best self to the conversation.
Take advantage of the peaceful times to create parenting strategies for your daughter and strategies to calm down. This will prepare both of you for the next drama storm.
A calm down strategy means that both of you take full responsibility for your reactions. You create a plan to help you stay calm. Make sure you communicate your “calm” down strategy to each other, so there is no room for misunderstanding.
Example: “John, I’m so angry and stressed about our daughter. I need to go work out for an hour. We can talk about this when I get back.”
2. Build on what you agree on
Don’t start with the red hot issues. Start with what you both agree on. The easiest way to do that is to focus on the big picture.
What do you both want for your daughter? What qualities, skills and values does she need to be a successful adult?
Example: “I want Madison to be a responsible adult. I want her to treat people with respect. I want her to be successful in her career and as a mother. I want her to find happiness and someone who will love her.
Avoid the “I’m right, you’re wrong” syndrome.
Being “right” is too often a battle of egos where someone is going to lose.
It’s not about being right; it’s about what’s best for your daughter.
Remember you are on the same team. You don’t want to take out the other team member. You want to find ways to support and strengthen each other.
3. Focus on what’s best for the daughter
Too often parenting issues transmute into power struggles with your partner.
When this happens the focus is no longer on the daughter but on the marital issues. When he tells you that “you are too hard on her” or you tell him “you’re clueless” you are turning against each other. Bring the focus back to your daughter. Discuss what is best for your daughter and what she needs. This helps you transcend marital conflict and gives you a common mission and goal.
4. Be complementary and not polarized
You and your partner are on the same team with different strengths and perspectives that complement each other. You can utilize these differences with a strategy.
When you are complementary you are flexible, open, and respectful of your differences while you maintain a united front. One couple that I worked with was extremely frustrated with their senior daughter Sara who was blowing off her classes. Sara really wanted to go to the state college but it was not happening if she didn’t get her grades up. The mom was a therapist and dad was an engineer and had very different gifts. Instead of turning on each other they created a strategy. Dad showed Sara her GPA and the college’s requirements. He showed her what she would need to do to get her grade point average up. He presented the information like a simple math problem with no emotion. Mom tuned into her daughter’s feelings. She encouraged her and helped her daughter work through the fear and pressure. This strategy worked, and helped get their daughter on track.
Being complementary also means you take turns dealing with the hard stuff. I call this Tag Team Parenting. There are times when you are so done with your daughter, that you tell your husband “tag you’re it. I need a night off.”
Polarization is a reactive, hostile energy that keeps you polarized with your partner.
Polarization is adversarial, rigid, reactive, and has no plan.
There is an implicit goal to contradict the other. If one is strict the other is lenient. If one is all work, the other is all play. When you and your partner are polarized, it’s no longer about the daughter; it’s become a power struggle between you and your partner.
5. Keep your daughter out of your disagreements
If you disagree with your partner, do it behind doors, and then make sure that your daughter can’t hear you. One couple I worked with argued behind closed doors but both of them were yelling so loud that the daughter heard every word. This greatly disturbed the daughter and she ran away from home that night.
It’s important to keep a united front in front of your daughter. You never want to belittle the other parent by contradicting them or correcting them in front of your daughter.
6. Keep your partner informed and current
Moms typically are way more clued in to their daughters than dads. Often time’s girls are uncomfortable sharing the intimate details of their life with their fathers. This is why many moms think their partners are clueless.
In many ways they are, but you can do something about that. Keep your partner current. You know how things shift and change in all her daily interactions. You need to help him get it and fill in the blanks.
For example: Your daughter asks you if she can drive down to the beach with her friends. Because, you know her friends are big partiers you say no. If your husband isn’t clued in, he will probably say yes.
7. Get support
This is a stressful season for couples even if there is no teenage drama. If your marriage is struggling, don’t hesitate to see a professional,. A marriage and family therapist and life coach can help strengthen your marriage by helping you move past negative emotions, patterns and beliefs. Improving your marriage will only benefit your family especially your teenage daughter.
If you and your partner are not on the same page you may be interested in my 3 month program Empowerment Express. This includes my Power Your Parenting Program and gives you individual sessions with your partner.