I was at my nephew's basketball game last night and I started watching the referees. There were several times in the game where one referee's initial reaction would be different than the other referee's as to who the ball went out of bounds on. The indecision only lasted about 2 seconds and one referee would make a decision and the game would continue. It happened so quickly, that if you weren't paying attention, you probably would have missed it. The referees didn't stop the game to come together to discuss it, or argue with each other while the crowd sat and watched. Instead, they had a united front and they supported one another.
Each referee had a different perspective of the game because they were viewing the game from different angles. The referees, however, understood their positions and their need to be united together in decision making. The crowd, the players and the coaches all had their opinions on the game too but when conflict occurred the only decision that ultimately mattered was the decision the referees made. In order for the referees to remain in control of the game, they need to be on the same team and support each others' decisions.
I believe the referees provide a good example for how parents should act with each other in front of their children. I know men read my blog, but ladies I'm particularly focusing on us because I think men understand this concept of loyalty in this manner better than we do.
When we become mothers something in us changes and we discover a love we've never had before, because we love something that we carried within ourselves, someone that is part of who we are and someone that we would do anything to protect. As a result, we often choose to put ourselves on our children's team and our husbands can easily become "the enemy" that you and the children are trying to fight against. Unfortunately, this is a wrong perspective and we need to step back and see the position that we hold. Like referees, parents come at the game from different perspectives, seeing things from different angles. As a result, parents will probably have different opinions at times. When the differences of opinion occur before the children, there needs to be a united front and it should happen so quickly that the children don't even notice that there may have been a moment of indecision. If you choose to discuss or even argue the decision in front of the children they will soon realize the weaknesses between the two of you and they will begin to use it to their advantage. The result will be a good cop, bad cop situation; this isn't a healthy perspective for our kids to view either parent as and if you present a united front together before the kids than this should not happen.
Does this mean you can never discuss things with each other? Absolutely not. You should discuss parenting issues together often and come up with a plan of how you will deal with different situations that way when you are before you children you know how to handle it. In a basketball game, the referee closest to the ball usually gets to make the call. I used to be silent when my husband was around and my kids were misbehaving. This ended up being a cause of frustration to us for several reasons. One frustration was that it caused him to think that I never corrected the kids. He would be waiting on me to correct the kids, I would be waiting on him to do it and then by the time correction was made it was being made in frustration for the lack of no one doing the correction. The second frustrating reason was it was beginning to make him be the bad cop of the family. He isn't with the kids nearly as much as I am and he had to spend his time with them correcting them and not being able to just enjoy them. The final cause of frustration is that I would know them better and at times, some of the things he was asking from them were not age appropriate expectations. I then would be mad at him for disciplining them. I thought that by allowing him to make all the discipline decisions when he was around I was allowing him to be the leader of our home. After discussion, though, we both realized that it would be better if I made most of the "initial calls" since I was around the children more and knew what they were capable of doing and when they were crossing that line. As a result, I now usually do the initial blowing of the whistle in our home, even when he is around. He, however, quickly reinforces what I have to say and if it needs to be taken to another level he will usually take over in that. As a result, there is a lot less frustration on everyone's side.
So ladies especially, I would encourage you to evaluate your position as a parent/spouse. Make sure you know your role. You bring great value to your family because of your mother bear perspective in regards to the kids. But ultimately, when it comes to discipline issues there are many times when you and your spouse are referees and need to make the call together. There will be a day when you have to release your children and at that time, you will want to be able to look at your spouse and still have a lover and a friend, not an enemy.