Healthy Romantic Partnerships

Parents In Conflict Over Screen Time

Delaney Ruston, MD
July 13, 2021
Man and woman play tug of war

Today we are releasing a new podcast episode entitled Parents in Conflict Over Screen Time. Today  I'm share a bit of it, including some strategies to help parents in conflict over screen time limits. I hope you read this, but also I encourage you to download and listen to the podcast.  

We have all heard how important it is to have a united front when parenting around things like rules. And I get that it is important, but we will not always be united. My husband and I have had our fair share of disagreements over issues around screen time issues. 
In the podcast episode, I talked with a couple who told me that they usually demonstrate a united front with their kids and how they handle making sure their daughter puts her phone away at a certain time each night. The dad told me:


“Even though she does try to drive a wedge, she's a very good negotiator...But we pretty much pretty consistently shut that down.”

He went on to say his daughter cannot “play that because the forum shopping doesn't work.”

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I had no idea what “forum shopping” meant, so I asked  him and he said:

“It’s a lawyer term. So we're both lawyers. Forum shopping is a term for when you choose a court because you think it'll be friendlier — like a federal court versus a state court.”

I know, generally, it is important to have a united front for our kids around things like rules, but I wondered about the benefits of bringing some conflict out into the open at times. Dr. Laura Kastner, author, and child and adolescent clinical psychologist (and also in both Screenagers Movies), said the following:

“I've always said that young people should see their parents in conflict when the parents are in on good behavior modeling, constructive problem solving, and conflict resolution is a gift. The key is that self-discipline when you're engaged in conflict in front of your children. Are you validating?  You might say, ‘You have every right to have that opinion, I don't necessarily agree with it, but you have every right to that opinion. This is not right vs. wrong. This is my comfort zone versus your comfort zone.’ Instead of saying, ‘You always do this and you never support me, and you don't have the children's best interest at heart, or you'd certainly want to back me up on having more sleep.’ ”

Of course, there are times we, parents, feel revved up about these topics. And then what? 

Laura says,

“If it’s criticism and belligerence and stonewalling and passive-aggressive and accusations, ...then absolutely take it to your next really hilly walk and, and clean it up and then bring it home again.”
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I consulted with the school counselor and author, Dr. Tammy Fisher Huson (who is also in Screenagers Next Chapter), about strategies to help when one parent wants to set a limit and the other parent doesn’t. She said it is key to spend time letting our partners know the things we appreciate about their parenting before jumping into the conflict. Tammy suggested saying something like:

“You have this irrefutable evidence of your deep care for our children. …I've seen when you do this when you go out and play with them, and you come up with creative ideas, you care deeply about their brain. …Clearly, we can agree upon that, as we both care deeply about our child.”

It's easy for me to default to seeing issues with my husband, Peter, and getting frustrated with him. I want to work more on taking the time to tell him all of his parental strengths.

A strategy discussed in this episode of the Screenagers Podcast is the idea of “splitting the difference” around deciding on screen-time amounts and how to tell if your rules are doing more harm than good. Long-time researcher Doug Gentile shares what he calls his “favorite study he’s ever done.”  He and his team tracked more than 1400 families for a year and compared the outcomes for kids in families with screen time rules and those without. Listen to the podcast to hear his findings.

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Healthy Romantic Partnerships

Parents In Conflict Over Screen Time

Delaney Ruston, MD
July 13, 2021
Man and woman play tug of war

Today we are releasing a new podcast episode entitled Parents in Conflict Over Screen Time. Today  I'm share a bit of it, including some strategies to help parents in conflict over screen time limits. I hope you read this, but also I encourage you to download and listen to the podcast.  

We have all heard how important it is to have a united front when parenting around things like rules. And I get that it is important, but we will not always be united. My husband and I have had our fair share of disagreements over issues around screen time issues. 
In the podcast episode, I talked with a couple who told me that they usually demonstrate a united front with their kids and how they handle making sure their daughter puts her phone away at a certain time each night. The dad told me:


“Even though she does try to drive a wedge, she's a very good negotiator...But we pretty much pretty consistently shut that down.”

He went on to say his daughter cannot “play that because the forum shopping doesn't work.”

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