It’s a natural game for kids to play: If Mom says no to something, “Let’s see what Dad says!” If you’ve ever said yes when your spouse said no, you’ve discovered that family unity is important—and that unity between parents is critical to a healthy household and for healthy kids. But it’s also important in a child’s life whose parents are divorced, separated, or are part of a blended family.
I know a mom who recently found questionable content on her son’s phone, but when she brought it to her ex-husband’s attention, he refused to help her deal with it. Kids should be discouraged from provoking such divisions, but it’s up to parents to be unified about being unified. Even though it’s not always possible or easy, there are several reasons to pursue unity in parenting.
1. Unity helps both parents build strong relationships with the kids.
If you play good cop/bad cop, one of the parents loses. And if the same parent plays “bad cop” on a regular basis, it compounds the effect. It can cause long-term problems when one parent is consistently seen as “good” or friendlier to the kids than the other one. But when you are united, you both benefit from the “good” decisions and you both share responsibility for the “bad” ones. You facilitate family unity, too.
2. Unity helps cultivate respect for both parents.
Disunity can encourage disrespect of either or both parents. When kids see discord constantly between their parents, they often pick up on the roots of the disagreements. And if one parent is dismissive of the other, that attitude is passed on to the kids. Unity, however, even when there might be disagreements in the decision-making process, forces the kids to deal with a united front. It’s easier to respect a united front than a divided house.
3. Unity of parents helps build the character of the kids.When a couple is united on tough decisions, a child’s character will benefit.
Like water seeks a low point, kids will gravitate to the path of least resistance. If they can manipulate the parents to get their way, it encourages the children always to work to beat the system rather than to build their character. But when a couple is united on tough decisions—such as on issues of discipline and virtues like honesty and integrity—a child’s character will benefit.
4. Unity models healthy marriage dynamics for your kids.
Disagreements are inevitable in parenting. But when we handle those conflicts in a healthy, respectful way, the kids see what they need to desire and be like when they are married later. Even if you don’t always agree with your spouse, backing each other up shows your kids that you respect each other. And if you’re not sure about your spouse’s position on a matter, tell your children you want to check with their mom/dad first and that you’ll get back to them with an answer.
5. Family unity now builds a stronger marriage for later.
How you parent together now will affect how you love and live together down the road. If you allow the parenting years to be filled with constant discord, arguments, putdowns, or surrender caused by disagreements (especially in front of the kids), you’ll be chipping away at the peace and harmony you’ll want and need when the house is empty. Try to have a long-term view of not only your relationship with your kids but your relationship with your spouse.
Sound off: What other benefits do you see in being unified as parents?
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “How does it make you feel when you see Mom and me love each other?”