What to Do When Parents Have Different Parenting Styles

What to Do When Parents Have Different Parenting Styles

We have received calls recently from parents seeking guidance about how to handle different parenting styles. Many parents have asked us this question over the years, not only because of concern about how this can affect kids, but also because of the friction that it can cause in a marriage. With the tips listed below, many caring couples have strengthened their marriage and raised healthy, responsible kids:

Love your spouse for who they are—not who you want them to become.
Very few people change by being pressured, nagged, or criticized. Most find it safer to try new attitudes and behaviors when they feel securely loved and valued. When was the last time you told your spouse that you were head over heels in love with them?

Agree on some core values.
Many people disagree about specific parenting practices, but most seem to agree on core values. Sit with your spouse and identify about five or so principles on which you can agree. Examples might include: (1) Kids need to feel loved unconditionally; (2) Kids need healthy limits; (3) Kids need to see their parents loving each other; (4) Kids need to help with chores around the house; (5) Kids need to experience the natural or logical consequences of their actions.

Agree that you’ll probably handle some things differently.
When a kid complains about how your spouse is handling something, respond by saying, “That’s because we are different. If you have a problem with what your mom (or dad) did, that’s between the two of you.”

Agree to always do whatever you can to make each other look good.
Even if you think your good spouse has done something unwise, support them in the eyes of the children. Discuss your disagreement when your kids are not there to hear it.

Agree to place your primary emphasis on the happiness of your marriage.
There are times in every marriage relationship when it seems tempting to side with the kids instead of one’s spouse. Wise parents avoid this trap! They understand that the best way to love their kids is to first love and respect each other and make sure that kids see that love and respect in the behaviors of their parents.

For more insight into different parenting styles, our classic audio, Helicopters, Drill Sergeants and Consultants, highlights the differences among three basic parenting styles. This audio might serve as an excellent starting point for discussing your core values and how you might handle things differently as parents.


Thanks for reading!

Dr. Charles Fay

Helicopters, Drill Sergeants and Consultants

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