This was first published on ksl.com
What should I do when my spouse gets mad at one of our kids, but becomes irrationally angry with yelling, arguing, and generally makes a "mountain out of a mole hill”. Should I support my spouse and whatever punishment and behavior they use with the kids, even though I don’t agree? Or should I tell my spouse to please walk away because they are losing it, and let me handle it (which will make them mad at me)? How can we have different parenting styles and not have conflict over them? I also worry that my kids like me more because I am more in control, and it’s made my spouse the bad guy. How are they not the bad guy, when they behave this badly?
So, what you are really asking is, “Is it more important to put up a united front in front of the kids or is it more important to stop my partner from parenting badly (with out of control emotion or anger) directed at our child?”
Obviously, both are important and doing both, at the same time, should be your goal, but if you have to choose one (in a tense moment), you should choose to protect your child, while never making your spouse feel small or bad. Below are some suggestions for handling these intervention moments with love and support.
Defuse the Situation:
You must learn how to defuse the situation in a respectful, loving, way towards your spouse, who is already upset and triggered. If you step into this situation from a position of anger, holier than though self-righteousness, or ego, you are going to create conflict and resentment. You must learn speak to your spouse as an equal, who is as equally flawed, because both of you are imperfect, struggling, scared, students in the classroom of life, who make mistakes. You cannot cast the first stone. You must speak to your spouse with love and compassion for their fears and pain in this moment. You must make them safe with you, while also making your child safe.
Create a time-out rule in your home:
Defusing the situation with love, means having careful, mutually validating, conversations (which I have outlined in previous articles) to pick a safe word or agree on a time out rule. This means both of you, will agree ahead of time, if either of you says that word or calls time out (which you will do if you feel the situation is being driven by fear not love), you both agree to stop talking and step away from the situation to cool down.
You both must agree to take some time and get your fear own triggers under control (your number one job as a human). You must learn how to choose trust in your infinite value and trust in the universe as your perfect classroom, to pull yourself together. Then, talk to each other about this situation and get on the same page before you talk to the child. Make sure both of you feel validated, heard, understood, honored, and respected for your feelings. Never talk down to your spouse or make them feel like the bad guy (you are equally as bad in other areas).
There will be times when you must act quickly though, and you don’t have time for all this communicating, so, in those situations, just use the safe word, as a clue to your spouse that they sound scared. You will use that safe word to love and support them, not to shame them.
Remember, their “out of control” parenting behavior is happening, because they are scared of failure or loss, not because they are a bad person or a bad parent. That is why you need a safe word. You need a word to remind each other that unsafe feelings and behavior are showing up and the real loving you may not come through. You both need to make sure it’s love, not fear, that is doing the parenting.
I highly recommend getting some coaching or counseling if reactive fear responses happen regularly. A good coach can help you figure out what your fear triggers are and teach you how to quiet them so you can parent at your best.
Dos and Don’ts in parenting:
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These articles were originally published on KSL.COM
Kimberly Giles is the president and founder of Claritypoint Life Coaching and 12 SHAPES INC. She is an author and professional speaker. She was named one of the top 20 advice gurus in the country by Good Morning America in 2010. She appears regularly on local and national TV and Radio.