A Biological Parent Pitfall: Always Playing Defense
Ron L. Deal
Feelings of guilt and fear cause some biological parents to become paralyzed and others to defend their children. If someone were to ask your spouse, “Are you able to approach your partner with concerns and discipline suggestions about his/her children?” how would they respond? Is your first response to constructive suggestions defensiveness or are you willing to listen objectively? I would never presume that your spouse will be right about every concern or proposal; the issue is one of consideration. Are you able to hear his/her point of view or do you assume criticism?
Getting caught in the defensive trap is easy, in particular when you feel sorry for your children. You may feel they have been cheated out of a happy home. Laura’s husband grieves that his children did not grow up the same wonderful family that he himself enjoyed. This remorse ignites a strong protectiveness against further hurt.
Healthy parenting in a biological first-marriage family includes two adults who occasionally coach one another on how to be better parents. God’s original design was for parenting to be a two-person team. This allows each parent to approach the other with suggestions on how to best manage the children; when parent's take turns doing this a stronger parental team is created. Your spouse is a helper placed beside you for your benefit. If you are always defensive you will miss out on the opportunity to grow and improve your parenting, and your children suffer.
The process of coaching one another should be approached gently “I can see your frustration with Rebecca. I am on your side and would like to help if I can. I have some thoughts about what’s going on, let me know when you are ready to hear them.” If you choose to humbly listen, over time you can become a strong parenting team.
Ron L. Deal is Founder & President of Smart Stepfamilies™ and Director of FamilyLife Blended® for FamilyLife®. He is a bestselling author, highly sought-after speaker, and therapist specializing in marriage enrichment and blended family education. Learn more here.