Co-parenting with Differences - My partner is not on board.

My partner is not on board with our child's learning difference

One of the questions we ask everyone before they join our private facebook group is -- What's your biggest frustration or challenge as a parent or professional (or both) within the Learning Difference community?  We know this can change on a daily basis but it can indicate a particular stress point for our families.  One of the most common responses is what I would like to write about today.  My partner does not recognize diagnosis.... My partner and I disagree with how to treat our child.

Our family struggles with this one as well.  It is when one partner or caregiver does not believe in the "diagnosis". Regardless if you are married or not - when one member of your care-team does not agree with how you are raising, disciplining your child.  I know there are some very decisive topics such as medication, and education and adversary relationships.  I will not tackle these specific topics today but will try in the future.

Here are a couple of suggestions I have based on my experience:

1.  Difference is OK.  Everyone is different.  Having two parents who parent differently will only help the child learn how to deal with various people.  My husband and I are very different in the way we were raised and parent.  When the children were little I was concerned that we were not being "consistent" with our children.  However, the social worker said this is very common and ultimately good for the children.  The golden rule though is a united front whoever is first onto the scene the other partner has to support or back up the other parent.  You can discuss how the situation could have been handled at a later time without an audience.

2.  Not owning their relationship - As I mentioned our family has struggled with this topic - my husband still gets incredibly frustrated that my kids cannot sit at the dinner table like "normal kids", that they cannot finish homework with out some assistance organizing it, the forgotten lunches or projects in the morning, the "lying" when they do something and do not take ownership for it and particularly when the TV remote goes missing.  He handles these situations with my kids very differently than I do.  It does not usually end well.  However, I have had to let this go a little.  My kids are 11,13 and 14 and they are starting to be old enough to own their relationships with their dad.  I do not control this or own it.  I know they love each other and are there a few more confrontations when he is first to the scene? Yes but it does not impact me as much as it used to because I have let it go.

3.  Know Love Languages.  We actually got this book as a wedding gift - it literally saved our first year of marriage.  This topic deserves a whole blog.  The reason it is so important is that it cuts across all of these differences and it helps you figure out how to keep each other's  "love bucket" full.  If everyone knows each others love language and honors them on a regular basis you typically will have more patience, understanding, kindness in the family relationships.  There is love languages book for children and teens as well.  There are 5 main love languages - physical touch, gift giving, words of affirmation, quality time and acts of service.  There is a survey you can figure out what is your love language.  Hint:  Usually the way you give love is your love language and usually your partner does not have the same love language.

4.  The Lead.    This concept has worked for us and I know a lot of other families.  There is usually one person that is responsible for all the research, doctor appointments, meetings at the school. I am the lead in how we care for the children's needs.  I made the decision to stop medication for my one son.  I made the case to my husband and he supported me in my decision.  Some of us do not have a choice you have to do it all, plus work, plus manage other kids etc.  This is where community support extended family, doctors and friends have to step in.

5.   Materials. I leave articles, books, podcasts, all sorts of things for my husband to read and learn.  I challenge him the way he learns and studies business for his business if he could just do the same for ADHD.  This usually ends up with putting him in defense mode.  I think one of the best ways is to have the children teach him.  We live in the world of youtube and programs like Jessica McCabe's how to adhd @HowtoADHD and Jeff Rasmussen - ADHD Rocks which helps start great conversations about ADHD and thinking and feeling differently.

Tell us your experiences and what worked for you.


Susan Schenk