How do you find compromises and work with your partner?
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Simple practices for resilient happiness from Rick Hanson, PhD

If you're looking to start a meditation practice this year (or deepen your existing practice), you may want to check out the free Art of Meditation Global Summit, which runs for 8 days starting January 23, with 55+ meditation experts (myself included!).

Are you working together?

The Practice: 

Parent From The Same Page.


(Note: This JOT is adapted from Mother Nurture, a book written for mothers - focusing on typical parenting situations and gender differences that are experienced by many, though not all, mothers and fathers, and by parents in same sex relationships. Parenting is a complex subject, plus it intertwines with larger issues of gender roles and the long history of mistreatment of women; obviously, society should do a better job of supporting families in general and mothers and fathers in particular, but meanwhile, there are things they can do for themselves; alas, there is no room for these complexities in these brief JOTs; for my discussion of them, please see Mother Nurture.)

It's hard to get on the same page, since parents often have different values in child rearing, and issues of who gets to be right or in charge muddy the water. Yet children get confused when their parents have different approaches, and are more likely to play one parent against the other: But Dad said I could! And it is disheartening when a partner approaches one of the most important undertakings in life in a way that seems wrongheaded or cavalier.

Minor differences in parenting style are all right. Besides helping children prepare for a variety of teachers and (eventually) bosses, complementary approaches can build on each other, like Mom being more of a tender owie-kisser and Dad an exuberant horsie-back-ride-giver, so kids get the best of both worlds. But major differences in parenting values or actions are a problem.


Take the First Steps

While it may seem unfair for one partner to make the first move, helping to evoke positive behavior can reduce his/her reasons for being irked. And there will be a better result by taking steps together. Here's a buffet of options, focused on the common situations of partners whose parenting styles differ.

  • Have confidence in the other parent's fundamental parenting abilities
  • Use encouragement
  • Offer acknowledgment
  • Create space for learning
  • Try not intervening in situations and see what happens instead (unless something truly abusive is occurring)
  • Understand the whole picture before jumping in
  • Don't micromanage
  • Get a reality check on the actual seriousness of the differences by being clear about the facts
  • Be respectful. When offering suggestions, be respectful and specific
  • Try to be a model of the reactions that are expected in return

Take Steps Together

  • Talk about values

  • Be supportive of each other
  • Try not to polarize roles so that one parent is the disciplinarian while the other gets to be more nurturing or playful
  • Use a tie-breaker

Establish Clear Facts

The place to begin is to establish what the facts are. Agreements may already be in place about how the load is shared, but commonly one partner feels that he or she is doing more than the other partner is aware of, which sparks recurring quarrels.

Each partner could simply list his or her part with the kids or household that day. If even that would be overwhelming make a list for an hour or for a specific part of the day, such as the morning or evening.

At night, compare notes, and see if agreements can be made about the basic facts of that day without nit-picking whether something took five minutes or ten. At the end of the period, try to agree on what the facts are, plus or minus ten percent.

Establish Clear Principles

Even with clear facts, parents can disagree about what they mean. Cultural factors influence our expectations about the proper sharing of roles after children arrive.

In gentle ways, you can support your partner's involvement by shining light on what a difference it makes to your children.

Establish Clear Agreements

Once you come together on basic principles, agreements about actions are pretty straightforward, especially when you use the negotiation skills you've already learned. Here are some practical solutions that have helped many families, including those in which the parents are already sharing the load fairly and the real issue is only how to work together even better.

  • Coordinate with each other
  • Keep things in perspective
  • Try to be flexible and creative for the greater good
  • Look for ways for you both to be involved with the children
  • Work out housework issues
  • Tackle high-stress situations together
  • Balance the total stress load more or less evenly
  • Address the impact of work on your family

Know Someone Who Would Like to Be a More Supportive Parenting Partner?
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Healing Cycles of Trauma

with Dr. Mariel Buqué

Dr. Mariel Buqué joins the podcast to help us learn how we can heal from the past, create healthier patterns, and break cycles of trauma. Along the way, Dr. Buqué shares the powerful tools that help people resource themselves to do the hard work of breaking intergenerational patterns.

Watch/Listen to the Episode

More Good Stuff


Watch last week's meditation and talk on What Are You Doing Here? The Why and the How of Buddhist Practice, and if you haven't yet, join me every week for this free, live offering.



Reaching its 1000th Martian day of the mission, NASA's Perseverance rover has fulfilled its primary objective of exploring Mars, collecting diverse rock samples that suggest potential signs of past microbial life and now faces the challenge of returning to Earth with the samples.


Out of our marriage and experience with many couples with children, here’s a Top Ten list (in no particular order) addressed to parents; hopefully some of these suggestions will fit your relationship.


Build a happier, healthier mind in just a minute or two a day with my Just One Minute online program, which features 57 brief daily practices that give you just one thing to focus on each day to gradually change your brain for the better so you can handle the stresses and challenges of everyday life with greater ease, inner strength, and confidence.

Making Great Relationships

Get 50 simple practices for solving conflicts, building connection, and fostering love in my newest book that is now available wherever books are sold.

"The act of parenting has its own rewards. And we need to take care of ourselves so that we can continue to have something to give to our children."

Rick Hanson, Ph.D.

JUST ONE THING (JOT) is the free newsletter that suggests a simple practice each week for more joy, more fulfilling relationships, and more peace of mind. A small thing repeated routinely adds up over time to produce big results.

Just one thing that could change your life.
(© Rick Hanson, 2024)

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