Dealing With Differences in Parenting Styles
June 4, 2017
Nothing tests the strength of a relationship more than having kids. As compatible as a couple might think they are, it is important to remember that opposites attract and this applies to parenting styles as well. More often than not there is nothing more important to a parent than their child(ren). Unlike a job or a business where there is room to try out a different approach and let things slide, parents often find themselves taking hard-line stances when it comes to their child(ren), usually driven by good intentions.
Since having a difference in opinion is inevitable when it comes to parenting, it is important to know how to manage it:
1) Agree on a System: The main things that parents argue about when it comes to their children is food, sleep and discipline. This is especially true for parents who have separated.
To minimize the chances of arguments in the future, it is important to agree on the type of upbringing you will like your child to have. For example, it is important to agree on the discipline approach you and your spouse would like to take, be it a ‘discipline-corner’ or spanking and what degree of indiscipline constitutes its use. In addition, you might want to agree on having minor offences handled by which ever parent is present and major ones can be handled after a discussion. In the case of food, for example agree earlier on if you will like to be a purely vegetarian family and have a nutritionist assist in setting up a healthy diet plan for the whole family (especially the kids). Lastly, in the case of sleep, you should both agree on the type of sleep routine you would like to follow down to the last details, for example bedtime.
2) Let the initiator of the Discipline finish it: If your spouse punishes your child for a given reason, do not overrule their punishment as this undermines their authority in your child’s eyes. If you disagree with a given punishment, speak to your spouse separately and agree on the best next step to take. It is important to appear as a united front otherwise children will pick up on this disconnect and use it against you.
In addition, should your child come to you claiming that “Mom (dad) made me do xyz” take a positive stance and avoid bashing your spouse. For example, “I am sorry to hear that, but you know it was because you did 1 2 3 and Mummy (daddy) loves you very much” would be a good response rather than “Yes, s/he can be very unreasonable you don’t have to do xyz”. The key is to always make each other look good since you are a team.
3) Agree to disagree: It is okay to not completely agree on a given topic as long as you reach a compromise. That is, as long as the child(ren) in question are not in any harm (physical, psychological or otherwise) it is okay to let a few things slide once in a while. You might be surprised by the results. You both bring valuable assets to the family and it is important to trust each other to make the right decision.
4) Communicate: Your parenting style is often based on your upbringing and what you like or do not like about it. In order for your spouse to understand where you are coming from it is important to communicate your thoughts and reasoning behind a given decision. Bear in mind that regardless of how long you have been together as a couple neither of you have become mind readers. Sharing each other’s point of view helps you both see things from each other’s eyes.
5) Actions speak louder than words: As parents it is important to teach your kids valuable life lessons where possible. One of these is how to deal with conflict resolution. While you shouldn’t have arguments in front of your children, once in a while it helps to talk over certain issues calmly and rationally (using facts) when you are with them. This helps them learn how to deal with disagreements.
6) Mistakes will happen: We are all human and are prone to error. Therefore, it is important to approach these mistakes with a loving heart and a listening ear as opposed to name calling or a blame game. Almost every parent wants what’s best for their child(ren) and mistakes in parenting are often based on good intentions.