When it comes to most things, at least the big stuff, I think my wife and I agree on how we want to raise our kids. Ours are age 3 and 2 now. Whenever we don't however, we seem to find a common ground and we both agree on the rules and a parenting style. The problem is that I still see my kids doing things we agreed they wouldn't do but not because my wife let's them, it is because she doesn't see them. for example, we agreed no sharing food with kids who are not close friends at the park but the other day I arrive and the 1st thing I see is some strange girl sharing her food with her. What should I do about this if it happens all the time. I get upset with her but maybe I shouldn't because she doesn't do it on purpose she just is less of a control freak than I. Must I just back off and accept that she is going to be less vigilent and more relaxed than I and see less of the things we are trying to avoid our kids doing? Or should I insist that she get her act together and stick to our agreement? I make a great effort to teach my kids so if they get to do these things in her care, it seems like a waste of effort.

  • I find the title a bit misleading: I wouldn't call it "she didn't stick to your agreement", if your wife didn't see the kids. It is not clear to me, whether or not you both agree she should have seen this incident.
    – Arsak
    May 19, 2018 at 11:27
  • @Marzi: I didn't say she didn't because that sounds like she didn't want to, I said she "couldn't" and for several reasons 1) her eyesight is not great from far away 2) the youngest needs more looking after so she gets overwhelmed very easily by looking out for both 3) She is much more relaxed (sometimes not in a good way) than I so she goes easy on herself and says, well I can;t do everything. Some parents are more vigilant by nature, when I look after them I do what we agreed so what does the parent do about the other half when they miss important stuff? How do I speak to her about that?
    – armani
    May 19, 2018 at 11:55
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    How does someone take kids that age to the park and not watch them? Who should be watching them, then? What is your role here ("...I arrive and the 1st thing I see..."). What was your wife doing? "Or should I insist that she get her act together and stick to our agreement?" It doesn't sound like you two are really on the same page at all. Are you sure she's not 'agreeing' with you just to prevent an uncomfortable situation?
    – anongoodnurse
    May 19, 2018 at 12:43
  • @armani it might be worth to edit your question and incorporate your additional information. However, I think there would be different answers for the case that your wife isn't physically able to watch the kids or she is to relaxed about it.
    – Arsak
    May 19, 2018 at 13:03
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    "...for me no is no and for me when we agree it is a pact and should be treated as such." That's not the problem, that's your problem (if you see what I'm saying.) The problem is that you don't agree how to act in reality, and it frustrates you. Her problem is that she doesn't have the strength to deny the child/children. These are all different problems, with different solutions, some of which you can control, and some of which only she can control.
    – anongoodnurse
    May 19, 2018 at 15:59

1 Answer 1


Taking all that you've said in your question and the following comments, to my understanding this is what it boils down to (correct me if I'm wrong):

As the parents, you agree in principle about something. In reality, it's not that she doesn't see them, it's that she is for some reason incapable of follow-through with what she agreed on in principle with you. This then is frustrating for you, because you're acting on the principle and she's not, which you think is (unfair/dishonest/you-fill-in-the-blank(s).)

So there are three problems, over which you have limited control or influence.

  1. "You agree in principle..." If she doesn't follow through, she may not actually believe in what you agreed on, but is merely saying she agrees. You have no control over this at all. You can ask her to be more honest and forthright about this so you can adjust your expectations accordingly ("Whenever we don't however, we seem to find a common ground and we both agree on the rules and a parenting style"), but if she won't, she won't.

  2. She can't follow through. That's either because she doesn't see the value of it, or some other deeper reason (she's too tired, she doesn't want the child to make a scene which would be embarrassing, etc.) You have no control over this at all; she has to deal with this. Maybe by getting more sleep, maybe by hiring a sitter for a couple of hours a few times per week, maybe by realistically evaluating what she can and can't do without giving up on a given day), maybe by reading a good parenting book or some good articles online, etc.

  3. You feel frustrated/wronged/frightened-because-her-actions-are-hurting-the-children/disrespected/other (you need to fill in the blank) by her failure to keep up her end of the parenting agreement. Your feelings, unfortunately, are your problem to take care of, because you can't change her behavior. Only she can do that. If you protest, "But I wouldn't feel this way if she only kept her promise!", then you're expecting her to fix your feelings by changing her behavior, which rarely works in real life. This is the problem you have the most control over.

what to do when parents agree on parenting but one can't stick to agreement?

Figure out what the real problems are, and work on them. Face them honestly together, and figure out how to change your respective roles in the creation of the problem(s), accepting that one human being can't control another (true for better or for worse.)

  • I would say I feel frustrated not wronged because I know it is unintentional which is why I can try your suggestions but have to ultimately change the way I respond to what I feel (and frequently see) is an inefficiency on my wife's part to look after the kids to my standards (I can't help it if they are high standards). Is this the part where I have to just accept it and try to keep my mouth shut in the future and become more "flexible" as my wife says haha :)
    – armani
    May 20, 2018 at 7:50
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    I think that this is my real problem. I am very unforgiving with myself to do things properly and to get things right and expect the same of others and find it difficult when it comes to my kids to arrive at the park and seeing my son eating chewing gum from the floor because my wife never saw him or seeing my kids misbehaving and not getting any discipline or getting time-out when this is precisely what they need in that moment. I think all parents have or want to have high standards but we don't all have the same capability in the same areas. This is hard for me, do I just accept, ignore?
    – armani
    May 20, 2018 at 7:54

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