Tuesday, March 2, 2010

What Should We Do When We Don't Agree About Guidelines?

After a recent parenting seminar, a young mother asked me a question I am asked at nearly every seminar. It is always a mother asking the question and never the father. (I’m not being sexist, but no father has ever asked me this question). She asked, “I really appreciate what you taught and that’s what I have been trying to do in my home, but my husband won’t support me in setting entertainment guidelines for our home. What should I do?”

I asked, “Does your husband know exactly how you feel about this issue?”

“Yes he does!” Looking at me like she found an ally in her battle to get her husband to straighten up and fly right.

“Then if you say it again, he will see it as nagging.” I responded. You could see her shoulders sag as she realized I was right.

How about you? What should you do if your spouse doesn’t agree with you about your family’s entertainment choices?

Here are a couple of basics to remember if you are experiencing a similar situation in your home. Number one, getting your way about entertainment guidelines is not worth destroying your relationship with your spouse.

Number two, don’ t let the resentment build up until all you can think about is that your spouse’s lack of support on this issue is all you can think about. That will destroy any relationship. I have seen it happen many times in my years of ministry.

You can’t present two sets of guidelines – one when Mother is around, and another when Dad is home. The Bible is clear in warning us, “…a house divided against itself will not survive…” (Matt 6:24). Keeping a strong marriage is more important than changing your child’s entertainment choices.

You need to find where you and your spouse can agree and present one unified front. It is more important that your children see their parents unified than keeping your son away from video games or R-rated movies.

I suggest you talk with your spouse and say something like, “I love you and that is not in question, but I am concerned about the type of games little Johnnie is playing.” (It’s important that you are specific with your concern. “Certain types of games” or “the amount of time” are legitimate concerns. “The awful games Johnnie plays all the time” is almost starting an argument). And then continue, “I know you might not see anything wrong with it, but will you support me on this issue?”

“I am concerned about his behavior in school, his grades, his attitude.” (Again, be specific with your concern). Your spouse isn’t a heartless or mean-spirited or you wouldn’t have married him/her in the first place. Appeal to a reasonable spirit and moral values. You will catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

1. Remind your spouse that you still love him/her, even if the two of you don’t agree.

2. Be specific with your concern.

3. Have reasons why you are concerned.

4. It goes without saying you should have already committed this matter to prayer before confronting your child or your spouse.

Let me know if this helps your situation.

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