In the midst of wanting the best for children, parents cross each others’ paths. Differences in culture, upbringings are contributors to differences that arise in families.
Tensions grow when parents fail to reach a consensus on how to raise children due to differences in opinion.
Decisions such as which school children must attend, which cultural beliefs are acceptable and whose religion children should follow are not as simple and straight forward as they seem because they often lead to arguments.
Marriage counsellor and family educator Justice Esmy Tembenu blames such disagreements on lack of knowledge about one another before entering into marriage, saying these are petty issues which can be avoided.
“Before marriage, couples must know each other’s likes and dislikes by studying one another. Before they even start bearing children, they must plan the number of children and how to bring them up. Where they cannot agree, they must seek professional advice,” she said.
Tembenu further advised couples to respect each other’s opinion as no single person’s opinion is superior.
“When people marry, they become one, therefore, they must respect each other’s opinion. The only opinion that carries more weight is the one that is child friendly and in the best interest of the child regardless of which parent presented it,” observed Tembenu.
She bemoaned the tendency of sorting differences in front of children as it robs respect children have for their parents.
“There has to be a civilised way of managing conflicts without sowing seeds of distrust in children. This also leads to spousal battery and later breakups, therefore, parents must tread carefully,” said Tembenu.
Pastor Charles Thangalimodzi of the Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) Church advised parents to be rational when deciding what is best for their children.
“People should get over the mindset that seniority means right. Parents must look at the issue at hand and not position or financial strength in the family.
“If one executes a decision without the blessing of the partner, she/he must expect to pay in the long run. This can be in a form of retaliation,” he said
Meanwhile, Sociologist Sarudzai Chirambo advised parents to involve children in some decisions that affect them.
“Some conflicts can be avoided if the children in question are consulted, assuming they are of age. Parents sometimes differ on opinions that are not even appealing to the children.
“Family is about compromise, therefore, parents must be accommodating and accept a lose-win situation if a win-win situation fails. However, if a single parent is always on the winning side, it is an indication of selfishness and intolerance on his/her part,” she said.