John Cowan - No More Gaps

Publish Date
Thursday, 3 August 2017, 12:25PM
Photo: Getty Images

Photo: Getty Images

By John Cowan

My Mum was always a National supporter, and my Dad was Labour. Every three year they would dutifully go to the polls and cancel out each other’s vote. One of the most useful insights about staying together as a couple is, you are not always going to agree about, and knowing that that’s okay. I run relationship seminars and teach some wonderful tools to help couples negotiate with each other – but I am very aware that sometimes it doesn’t work. I know counselling can help, but honestly, if you don’t like your partner’s mother, how much counselling will it take before you do?  The really valuable thing to know is that you can disagree and it can annoy you but you can actually shrug, sigh and still love each other.

However when it comes to parenting, it is immensely useful to present a united front. You will have different approaches to rules and behaviour – two authentic people will always have differing ideas –and your kids will soon get to know who is the softer touch when it comes to   asking for things.  But where it gets tricky is if you  start to contradict each other or undermining the other parents authority with the children “Don’t bother about that – that’s just Mum being cranky”.  Whenever you can, back each other up. If you get the “But Mum said we weren’t allowed to!” complaint, a good strategy is to say, “Okay, she might be thinking of something that I haven’t thought of;  do what Mum (or Dad) says and I’ll have a chat with her so I’ll know why she said that.” In most case, showing the children that you support each other is more important being right!

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About John

John has been with The Parenting Place ( for seventeen years as their senior writer and presenter.  He had various roles working with youth and families prior to that but actually started his working life as a scientist in neurophysiology at Auckland Hospital.  As well as writing and speaking, John is frequently on radio and television.

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