Parenting as Partners

Shelly Howard

May 1, 2024

When our kids were almost five and two years, we were introduced to Growing Kids God’s Way and shortly after, the Mom’s Notes. Up to that point, we thought we had what Joey and Carla referred to in the Mom’s Notes as a philosophy for parenting our kids. I guess we thought we would intuitively know what to do.  Basically, we were just making it up as we went along, avoiding what we didn’t like from our own upbringing, implementing what we did like and applying some parenting tidbits we were picking up along the way.  The result was our children (especially our oldest) were out of control.  Neither would listen to anything we said, they could not focus or sit still, they would not sleep through the night, they were sleepwalking and our oldest was having night terrors.  We were exhausted and at our wit’s end when I suggested we take the parenting class at church because we had tried everything, or so we thought. 

Two things helped us to quickly develop a strategy that would transform our parenting and our family. The first thing was the “Couch Time” concept we learned about in the Growing Kids God’s Way class.  It made so much sense, providing us with a vehicle to keep our marriage the priority relationship in the home, and also a dedicated time to be working on the goals for our marriage and our parenting, and providing our kids the confidence in marriage and friendship that they were lacking.  Second, was the realization that we were not unified in our approach even though we had common goals.  

What we learned from Joey and Carla was that we needed to be a “team” and that we could lead our kids well if we supported each other.  I was more permissive. I had trouble sticking to my convictions and would cave-in to the whims of our boys to keep peace.  Rich on the other hand was way more authoritarian in his approach because of my permissive style which created conflict in our marriage; and our kids were constantly needing correction.  The wisdom laid out in the GKGW class and the wisdom from the Links in the Mom’s Notes presentations helped us to start being the partners and parents we wanted to be.

What Did We Do?  We made sure Couch Time was happening consistently (for us that was 4-5 times a week at whatever time we could do it with the kids present).  We put it on our calendar because what’s important shows up on the calendar! 

-We talked at Couch Time about how we could support each other more when I was struggling to remain consistent and when Rich was tending toward being heavy handed. 

-We asked each other for advice on how we could have handled things differently.

-We realized that our kids were looking to us for unified leadership and when we were supporting each other, the parenting principles we were teaching our kids were reflected in their behavior, and we were all sleeping through the night! 

We both were growing “together” in our parenting rather than one feeling frustrated all the time with the parenting style of the other.  We had a good marriage but we soon experienced improved communication and more harmony in marriage and in our home. 

And who knew all these years later that we would still be implementing these same powerful lessons as we are empty nesters who are enjoying the “Friendship” phase of parenting our sons now 26 and 23!  We are blessed and grateful! 

With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 

eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

Ephesians 4:2-3

Shelly and Rich Howard are longtime leaders of Growing Families Int’l parenting classes and co-founders of OneFamily, a non-profit ministry to families. They are passionate about serving and mentoring parents, helping them to have the marriage and family life they’ve always dreamed of. The Howards live in Lone Tree Colorado, they have been married 35 years, and they are parents to two sons, ages 26 and 23. Shelly is also a Contact Mom for GFI. 

Find out more about what Shelly shared in these Mom’s Notes sessions,

“Parenting as Partners”

“10 Ways to Fight Fair”

“Legalism/Permissiveness, Where’s the Balance?”

Parenting Made Practical Podcasts to Check Out!

Make Your Spouse Your Best Friend

Every Parent’s Biggest Struggle – Consistency

(Search Parenting Made Practical in your favorite podcast app to listen!)


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