What do you do when yours spouse disagrees with your screen time rules?
Marital discord is just a fact of life. You are not always going to agree on everything. This can be a tricky situation when your spouse disagrees with your screen time rules, specifically the rules you have set for your children.
So, what are you supposed to do in this situation? You want to limit your children’s screen time, but your spouse has their own ideas.
Families are set up in different ways. Sometimes one parent stays at home while the other works, sometimes both parents work, and sometimes it’s a split family situation, wherein it’s an ex-spouse that allows copious screen time, while you limit it or allow none.
Let’s break each of these frustrating situations down and find some solutions…and comprises!
A Stay at Home Parent and a Working Parent
This is one of the easier compromises to make.
If you consider that your children have been screen-free or screen limited throughout the day, it’s not such a big deal of they watch a show with your partner when they return homes from work.
If you allow a little screen time during the day, you could either stop and go screen-free while you are at home with your children. Another option would be to talk to your spouse about your desire to limit screen time, and on the days wherein you do allow screen time, let your spouse know that the kids have met their quota and suggest other activities for the evening hours.
Your TV can always be placed in a separate area of the house or you can come to an agreement that screens are limited to certain hours. OR you can agree that the TV only goes on after the kids are in bed.
Families with two working Parents
If both parents are working, your children may or may not get screen time at school or daycare. There is little you can do about what happens at your child’s school with regards to screen time.
When your spouse disagrees with your screen time rule in this case, it’s a matter of presenting them with your view (and the evidence, if they are open to it) of the effects of screen time on a child.
You can only control what happens in your own home. So, this is a situation wherein you can show your spouse the evidence and come to a compromise.
Again, this is a situation wherein the TV can exist somewhere out of the main living area of the house or you can set a time limit on the screen time.
Ex spouse allows too much screen time
This is a trickier situation. This sometimes can be worked out in mediation, or it can just remain a problem.
As a co-parent, I sympathize with you. You see something bad going down and you feel like you have no control over it.
It can be frustrating. But, again, it’s better to look at the bigger picture.
Is your child screen free or screen limited most of the time? Are they able to play on their own while they are with you?
If the answer is “yes“, then try to relax a little. Often the non-custodial parent will give in to a child’s desires in an effort to be loved as much as the primary parent is.
This can include excessive screen time, trips to amusement parks, ect. Sometimes it’s simply that the ex spouse isn’t used to parenting…I mean, If I only cared for my kids two weekends every month, I would be a little lost on what to do with them on the weekends.
In many cases, co-parenting becomes a bit of a competition for the children’s affection. This is just an unfortunate reality.
Those of us aware of the damaging effects too much of screen time for our children tend to get hyper-focused on just that aspect of parenting. Parenting involves so much more than just keeping an eye on our children’s screen usage.
We tend to forget the other parent’s perspective, as well.
Some people just don’t see the problem with excessive screen time. And if you are experiencing this issue, you married one of these people.
We’re not always going to agree on every decision our partners make. The only thing we can do is present them with the recommendations from the governing authorities and the evidence and hope they are listening.
We all love our kids, no matter what we believe about screen time. So, no badmouthing the other parent!
Compromise is the key! If it breaks your rules, then consider your rules broken and do the best you can.
Remember that you are not the only parent.
I’ve been through this with my own four children, as well as a bonus child. Prepare other activities, plan outings, or compromise when possible!
Some screen time compromises
- Place TV out of the main living area
- Set a certain amount of screen time each day
- Agree to put on only quality programming
- Let go of the idea that your ideas are the best ideas
- Watch TV with your children and talk to them about what’s going on in the program
What you absolutely should not do is argue about this (or anything)in front of you children. Kids are very perceptive and they will pick up very quickly on who they can get screen time from when one parent says “no“.
It’s important for parents to present a united front. If you can get on the same page, the whole family benefits.
And whether you live with your child’s parent or not, do not bad mouth your parenting partner.
I have heard it before, “Daddy does things differently, but I care about your brain and your development, so that’s why I have my rules.“
No, no, no!
This is detrimental to your child’s relationship with their other parent and it gives them the idea that their friends’ parents who don’t limit screen time don’t care about their kids.
The truth is, we all want what’s best for our kids. We just don’t agree on exactly what’s best.
We need to learn to accept and adjust to our differences in parenting styles. When we feel like our spouse’s choices are just not acceptable, we can confront them in a kind manner, avoiding insults and harsh words.
So, when your spouse disagrees with your screen time rules, consider it another thing to compromise on…and another thing to work out in your relationship.
So, find a middle ground. Your kids will be just fine whatever the solution! I promise!
Two loving parents trumps everything! Many children don’t have this. So, consider your children lucky.