How To Navigate Differences In Parenting Styles In A Relationship

It’s often said that “opposites attract.” And in a perfect world, those opposites would come together harmoniously to create a perfect whole. The good news is, in a less than perfect world with communication, hard work and the right support, that can still be the case. The bad news is, differences in parenting styles can be nearly impossible to navigate and if unresolved, ultimately lead to unhappiness and divorce.

Differences in parenting styles is an area where many couples struggle. The truth is, you can have a successful relationship and happy balanced children even if both people parent differently. That being said, if the differences clash or create more problems, it can lead to resentment and divorce.

Do you feel your partner is too relaxed or permissive, disengaged, or inconsistent when it comes to parenting? Do you fight about it? We asked a relationship therapist in Scottsdale for tips on how to navigate differences in parenting styles. Here are a few you might consider:

Create House Rules Together

Getting on the same page is essential! Start with explaining each other's parenting styles and getting very detailed about what that means and looks like. Once you fully understand each other’s perspective, work to create house rules that feel right for both people. Make sure these rules are specific to avoid misunderstandings. Once you both agree on some house rules, share them with your kids so everyone is clear about expectations. It’s also a great idea to include your kids in this process so they feel heard and valued as a member of the household.

Agree on Consequences and Punishments

This is one of the harder aspects to manage when two people have different parenting styles. If you are coming from opposite ends of the spectrum, it will take time, trust and compromise on how you approach discipline. Write down what’s important to you in regards to discipline and work to make a decision together about consequences for breaking rules and what should and shouldn’t be punishable.

Don't Argue in Front of the Kids

It’s important that two parents work together as a team and back each other up. Even if you don’t agree with how your partner is handling a situation (unless it’s abusive), try to support them in the moment and have a private conversation about it later. This will demonstrate to your kids that you are a united front and make decisions together. This will also teach your children that they can’t go behind one parent's back to get what they want.

Don’t be Afraid to Get Professional Help

A relationship therapist can help you work through your differences, make sure both people feel heard and come up with compromises that are reasonable and fair. They can also suggest resources, such as parenting books and provide other tools to support your relationship. It’s important to find healthy ways of navigating differences, like parenting styles, so they don’t develop into anger and resentment and lead to divorce.

Keep in mind that while there are various different parenting “styles” there is no one perfect approach to parenting. Not only that but kids will likely benefit from the two different perspectives. Exposure to different parenting styles could possibly help your children deal with different authority styles in the real world which will benefit them in the long run.

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