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Want Your Spouse to Be a Better Parent? Try This and See What Happens.

Dr. Meg Meeker

Dr. Meg Meeker

What mother doesn’t want her husband (or the father of her children) to be a better dad? And what father hasn’t wished that his wife (or the mother of his children) wouldn’t give him more support as a dad?

Today is National Spouses Day. It’s a day to acknowledge and honor your spouse. To say “thank you” and show your spouse how much you appreciate him or her.

I am grateful we, as parents, have something like National Spouses Day. So often we only pay attention to our children and how we are parenting them. We can easily forget that parenting is a team effort. Paying attention to the other member on that team is just as important as paying due attention to our kids.

We can easily forget that parenting is a team effort.

Sadly, when we do pay attention, it can often be in a negative way rather than a positive one. We are quick to judge the each other’s parenting styles. How they discipline, how they love, how much time they spend with the kids, etc. We don’t often thank them for the good they are doing in our children’s lives every day.

I understand the temptation to do this. For the first ten years of my marriage, I worked hard to identify everything that my husband needed to change in order to be a nicer person to live with and a better parent. The second decade, I tried to change every one of those things, and during the third decade, I gave up on all of it. Interestingly, that’s when we started to really get along. (Surprised?)

You and your spouse will never become better parents if all you get from one other is criticism.

You and your spouse will never become better parents if all you are receiving from one other is criticism. And while it is true we can’t completely change another person, we can encourage him or her for the better, and this does promote change.

In honor of National Spouses Day, I want to challenge you to refrain from correcting or judging your spouse’s parenting style and thank them for it instead.

All children essentially need four things from their parents to succeed in life: love, affection, attention, and value. You and your spouse probably show all of these in a different way.

Maybe you show love with your words while your husband shows love with his time. Maybe you show your child attention by working overtime at work to pay for your child’s summer camp, while your wife shows it by cooking meals for your child each night.

We all express our love differently, based on our own upbringings, personalities and other factors. The job for us is to learn how our spouse expresses love, affection, attention and value and affirm them when we see them to do this.

For example, you may think your husband is neglecting your children because he doesn’t have long conversations with them every day. It could be that talking is not how your husband expresses love or attention, but he will work overtime just to pay for summer camp or for a new basketball hoop that your kids can play with.

Notice this, and instead of harping on the negative and making statements like, “I wish you would talk with our daughter more when you get home from work,” focus on his strengths and affirm him in those: “Thank you for working so hard so that our kids can enjoy the activities they love.”

We work best as a team when we feel like our spouse believes in us and is for us.

We work best as a team when we feel like our spouse believes in us and is for us. If we feel scrutinized or unapproved of, will we not feel motivated to change and we will begin to harbor resentment toward each other. That puts our marriage in danger—which isn’t good for anybody in the family.

What can you affirm in your spouse today? Let’s take a break—at least for today!—from the judgmental comments and stand back and appreciate the man or woman who is doing exactly what you are trying to do: raise great kids.

You can share appreciation for your spouse on social media today using #NationalSpousesDay. And if you are interested in more information about how to parent better with your spouse, be sure to check out my resource Help Your Spouse Be a Better Parent from my 12 Principles of Raising Great Kids program.Want Your Spouse to Be a Better Parent? Try This and See What Happens.

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