5 Ways to Get Your Spouse on the Same Page About Your Child’s Special Needs
This is a subject that comes up quite frequently when I am talking with other parents. Often the scenario is Mom sees the struggles of her child, but Dad doesn’t. This disconnect leads to arguments between the couple, inconsistent parenting, and adds a layer of anxiety on everyone in the household.
So what do you?
Well first off, some disclaimers about the scenario above. Keep in mind that typically the primary caregiver is the one who ends up with the foresight of the child’s struggles, while the spouse or partner who spends limited time, doesn’t, and this is regardless of their sex. Secondly, the most common disconnect I encounter is between a female mother and her male spouse.
Okay, with that being said, let’s move to the bigger question….what do you do to help get your spouse on the same page about your childs struggles?
To begin with, we need to understand the individuals that we are talking about. In the late 80’s and early 90’s "Men were from Mars and Women are from Venus" was always the way the sexes were described. We are worlds apart, yet some how they come together to create families.
I recognize that women are emotional creatures. We feel things. We sense things. We are wired to nurture and care for others. When we struggle with things, we look for the facts and we talk to others before we emotionally and rationally makes sense of what we learned. One the flip side, the male race are predominately left brain thinkers. They are taught early on to suppress emotions, be rational, strategize, and logically think through situations as if life is a giant game of chess. The way they process information is completely differently than women.
Then let’s layer on all our own personal beliefs, upbringing, educational status, and life experiences. We all carry baggage from living life, or how our parents raised us, or what we went through; and all these things, spill over into our parenting. Continue to pile up our quirks and personality traits. That all of us are wired how we are wired. Have you ever seen a type A creative try to corral a Type C (which are very detailed oriented and controlling)? It can get ugly.
I laugh at how we communicate with each other. I can’t tell you the number of times my husband and I are saying the EXACT same thing in 2 different ways to the point that we don’t understand what each other is saying? Really.
It’s important during this time to respect your spouses position and use empathy in understanding that he/she is not at the same place in the journey as you are. We all come to conclusions in our own time, as well as, you may need to accept that your spouse may never get on the same page.
Hopefully not, for the sake of your struggling child. But it can happen that way.
With all that being said, once we understand these important variables it can helps us craft the best way to present information to our significant other.
- I believe that factual, science-based articles or podcasts are very effective. Left brain thinkers need that science to validate how they may feel about the issues at hand. Luckily there are loads of new science to back up all sorts of diagnoses.
- One of the other ways to provide data is to TRACK. Track, track, and track some more. I can not say it enough….data does not lie. It instantly builds credulity to your situation and provides a wealth of knowledge to everyone who cares and interacts with your child.
- Next, switch up the roles. Have your Spouse spend more time with your child. As primary caregivers the level of exposure to “see” the areas of struggle occur at a higher rate than if your spouse works out of the home. Giving them more exposure often helps them get eyes on those struggles.
- Provide perspectives from other Dad’s or once skeptics. We all feel better and are more open to opposing perspectives when they come from others like us, in the same situation. Those perspectives could be videos, podcasts, interviews, or conversations.
- Last, but not least…put it in terms that resonate with them. Sometime the way we communicate the struggles can make all the difference. If they are a sports buff, use sports terminology, if they are hunters, hunting terms, if they are geeks, use geek speak. It really helps.
There you have it. 5 Ways to help get your Spouse on the Same page about your child’s special needs. If you have any other ideas or techniques you have used please drop them in the comments below.