Before your next big blow-out, Borba urges parents to spend a little time considering the big problems that can result from fighting over your kids:
- Inconsistency. When kids receive conflicting information, whether it is instructions from parents, expectations, or disciplinary measures, it confuses them and creates a situation that makes it impossible for them to learn what the rules are.
- Your kids will lose their confidence...in you. Borba says that parents are the main source of stability for kids, and when that stability is threatened it can have disastrous effects. Not only will inconsistency make it harder to discipline your child, it can also make it much harder for parents to soothe a child who is upset or worried. If children can't trust in the stability that their parents should provide, it can really rock their worlds, and yours.
- It leaves you susceptible to trend-based parenting (which is a big no-no). Nobody likes conflict, especially when it's with your parenting partner. So it's no surprise that many parents who disagree are looking for fast solutions to their problems. Not only do they want to help their kids-they want to stop fighting with their spouses, too! In turn, they'll be more willing to accept trend-based parenting: quick and simple fixes to their kids' problems. The trouble is that these solutions are rarely (if ever) effective, and they only temporarily solve the issues at hand. "Grasping at trendy solutions can lead to what I call 'Extreme Parenting,'" notes Borba. "One minute parents are letting kids have free reign, and the next they are cracking down and afraid to let go. Not only are the mixed signals confusing and frustrating for kids, when the problems end up resurfacing down the road, so do the arguments with your spouse."
- It zaps what little energy you have left. If you are a parent (or if you know someone who is), then you know how much energy it takes to raise children-not to mention running a household and holding down a job at the same time. When parenting arguments ensue, the fighting quickly drains what little energy you have left at the end of each day. This continued conflict depletes the parental energy source so that very little, if anything at all, gets accomplished.
- It makes you feel powerless. Parents who feel unsupported by their spouse or co-parent can often experience a dramatic sense of hopelessness and powerlessness. Not only do they feel incapable of solving problems with their children, they are also lacking the support of their parenting partner, which Borba says can lead to many parents feeling too overwhelmed to move forward with finding solutions.
- It leads to harmful alliances between parent and child. When you and your spouse don't see eye to eye, particularly over an issue like an extended curfew or getting an allowance, it can be a natural tendency for one parent to ally him or herself with the child, instead of with his or her parenting partner. Don't do it, says Borba. "Building an alliance with your child is a common, yet dangerous parenting mistake," she asserts. "Doing so not only undermines the authority of the 'opposing' parent, it sets up a dynamic that encourages the kids to play you and your spouse against one another in the future."
- It makes the institution of marriage even more challenging. Marriage is tough enough on its own: it takes a lot of hard work and negotiating to make it work. And when parents disagree about their children, it creates another marital conflict that has to be overcome. Worse, arguing about your kids is sure to be more emotionally charged than your average marital bickering. Borba explains that when a couple can't compromise and problem-solve in an effective way, it can put a heavy strain on their marriage-a ramification that's unhealthy for every member of the family.
- You're more likely to get outsiders involved (which might only make the problems worse!). Whether parents are turning to their own parents, friends, or co-workers for advice, Borba advises them to be wary of bringing in a third wheel. "People have a natural tendency to turn to those whom they know will be their allies, and will assure them that their stance is right," she says. "That often means calling your own mom or dad; after all, you've gotten the majority of your parenting skills from them, so chances are good that they won't shoot you down. But involving anyone outside your relationship can cause your co-parent to feel betrayed and defensive. And it may cause an even bigger conflict between your spouse and your family and friends."
Michele Borba, Ed.D., is an educational psychologist, former teacher, and mom. She is recognized for offering research-driven advice culled from a career of working with over one million parents, educators, and children. A frequent Today show contributor and recipient of the National Educator Award, Michele is the author of 22 books including Building Moral Intelligence, No More Misbehavin', and her latest release, The Big Book of Parenting Solutions: 101 Answers to Your Everyday Challenges and Wildest Worries. She also appears on Dr. Phil, The View, CNN American Morning, and The Early Show, and has been featured in numerous publications, including U.S. News & World Report, The Chicago Tribune, Redbook, Family Circle, Parenting, and Child. She is an advisory board member for Parents magazine and she writes the blog "Parenting Solutions" for NBC's iVillage. For more information, visit http://www.micheleborba.com.
About "The Big Book of Parenting Solutions: 101 Answers to Your Everyday Challenges and Wildest Worries":
Nobody is busier than parents are. Between full-time jobs, busy school schedules, soccer practice, and dinner time, there just aren't enough hours in the day to get everything done. Needless to say, sitting down to read a parenting book cover to cover just isn't feasible. Who has the time or the energy at the end of a long, stressful day to pore over its pages? Pick up Michele Borba's new book, The Big Book of Parenting Solutions: 101 Answers to Your Everyday Challenges and Wildest Worries, and you can flip right to the chapter that focuses on the answers you need right now.
"If parents are faced with having to wade through pages of information or to make the commitment of reading a book cover to cover, they are most likely to give up on looking for answers, or they will turn to a less reliable source," notes Borba. "That's why I designed my book to work like a cookbook or a desk reference. Parents can look up the problem they want to address, flip right to the correct chapter, and find an easy-to-follow formula for getting the results they want."
Borba's book helps you get to the root of the problem so you can begin to truly fix it-and to ensure that the results are both effective and long-lasting. Whether your child is a whiner, a bully, or a consummate worrier, understanding why he is that way can give you valuable insight into what may work for him moving forward.
The Big Book of Parenting Solutions: 101 Answers to Your Everyday Challenges and Wildest Worries is available at bookstores nationwide and from major online booksellers.
>> Buy the book on Amazon: The Big Book of Parenting Solutions: 101 Answers to Your Everyday Challenges and Wildest Worries (Child Development)