Normally, we don’t think of practice and spontaneity as going together, but in the world of parenting, they do. We need to learn how to handle spontaneous decisions.
Let me share two examples. (1) Imagine that a couple is in a room with their young children and some other adults. One of their children asks the father if she may have some gum. He says no (for good reasons) and the wife supports him. Then the father wonders if they should let their daughter have the gum, but the wife says to stick with the decision, she distracts their daughter, and all’s well. This is an example of great teamwork because the wife followed the husband’s lead and then helped him to stick with the decision. (Later, they could privately discuss when or when not to allow gum in the future, or how to handle similar situations.)
(2) Again, imagine a couple with their young children and other adults in the room. The daughter is looking at a catalog of toys and pointing out everything she wants. The father is concerned about this and quietly suggests to his wife that they take the catalog away. The wife says to let their daughter keep it (since she’s enjoying looking at it with a guest) and the husband says no more. It is good that they didn’t make an issue of it in front of the children or their guests. (But privately, it would be good if they discussed their feelings and came up with a solution they were both at peace about.)
When my husband and I were raising children we faced many situations like the examples above. One of us might make a spontaneous decision and then have second thoughts about it. And I regret to say that there were many times when I undermined my husband’s authority by disagreeing with him in front of the children. In time, with lots of practice, we learned to remain united in front of the children and then privately discuss how to handle the situation in the future.