Good Question: What If You and Your Partner Disagree on a Risky Activity?

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So this is a question that doesn’t come up too often in our household, but it came up the other day. What do you do if you and your partner disagree on whether an activity is okay for your kids?

If the partners are fairly different in their tolerance or comfort level for riskier activities, I can see how this could become a point of contention and cause a lot of stress. If you’re an adventurous parent and your partner is more cautious (or vice versa), how do you handle a situation where you don’t agree on whether an activity is safe or appropriate for the kids?

In our situation, Mike and I are almost always on the same page. But every once in a while we disagree. What’s interesting is that it’s not always the same person who feels uncomfortable with an activity – I guess our risk-meters differ depending on the day and the activity. The other day it just happened to be me. On this particular day, he wanted to pull the kids on the sled in, well, an unconventional way. (I’m not going to go into any more detail than that, because I don’t want this to turn into a debate on whether or not a particular activity is acceptable. I want the discussion to focus on what to do when you’re not on the same page regardless of the activity.)

I didn’t love the idea, and I let him know. He’d already told the kids, so in addition to my trepidation, I had two very excited kids bouncing around in anticipation. He gave me a few reasons as to why he thought the activity would be okay, and while it was still something I would never do, I trusted his judgement. They did their unconventional sledding activity, they all had a blast, and most importantly, they all came home in one piece.

The key for us is to take the time to listen to the why behind your partner’s request to try a certain activity. At the same time, the person who is feeling anxious must be heard as well. Sometimes, as in my case, just being able to voice your anxieties and worst-case scenarios is enough to make a person feel good enough to consent. I know for me, being able to spell out what could happen and get a sense that Mike is aware and properly vigilant, is often enough for me to feel okay with the activity. We also trust each other enough that if one person doesn’t consent, the other will respect that.

How do you handle similar situations when they come up in your home? Is one partner always the gas and the other always the brake, or do you alternate as Mike and I tend to do?