When you and your spouse have different parenting styles, there may be many disagreements about how to raise your children. In fact, different parenting styles can cause major problems in your marriage and a great deal of stress for your children. If this is a problem for your family, there are some things you can do to more effectively cope with your different parenting styles.

Parenting Styles

There are four main types of parenting styles. These include authoritarian, authoritative, permissive, and uninvolved. Authoritarian parents have strict rules and punishments. They believe that children should be obedient and responsive to their demands. They tend to have a lot of rules with severe consequences. Authoritative parents, which are considered most effective, have rules that they want their children to obey. However, they are more flexible. They are also nurturing and forgiving when a rule is broken. Permissive parents make few demands on their children and are indulgent. They have low expectations of their children’s ability to have self-control and regulate their emotions. They are nurturing, communicative, lenient, and act more like a friend than a parent to their child. Uninvolved parents have low expectations, and place few demands on their children. Those with this parenting style tend to be detached from what is going on with their children.

How Different Parenting Styles Impact Families

If you and your partner have different parenting styles, your children will most likely know this and try to use it to their advantage. Conflicting parenting styles can cause confusion for children when they receive mixed messages. For example, if an authoritarian parent punishes a child for breaking the rules and their permissive parent ignores the punishment, the child can be confused. They may not know if the rule they broke is important and may not follow it in the future. Having different parenting styles can also lead to conflict with your partner. Arguments about parenting are a common problem for couples with different parenting styles. You may have difficulty having conversations about your children and how you want them to be raised. Although having different parenting styles can lead to conflicts for couples, there are some things you can do to mitigate this and instead find common ground.

Understand Your Own Parenting Style

When you are aware of your own parenting style, you can find ways to focus on the positive. That way, you can avoid some of the negative manifestations that can occur. Knowing your parenting style enables you to share with your partner your parenting expectations. You can let your partner know how you were raised and how you would like to parent your own children in a similar, or very different way. This can open up a discussion to help you consider your backgrounds and decide together how to raise your own children.

Establish Family Rules

Creating family rules, which include progressive consequences, is one of the best ways to be consistent with your children. This is true even if your parenting styles differ. When you create family rules that are in line with your values, everyone in the family understands the expectations and consequences. This way, even if the delivery is different, the rules and what happens when they are broken are clear. Since you create these rules and consequences together, you can share your views, beliefs, and styles so they can be reflected in your rules. 

Support Each Other

Even if you disagree with how your partner is handling the situation, you can still support them. Present a united front and don’t allow your children to try to divide you. Don’t argue with your partner about their parenting in front of your children. If your partner has enforced a punishment that you don’t agree with, show support in front of your children and share why you disagree in private. Make sure to defer to your partner in their decision and learn the facts of what occurred when you are alone. When your children know that you will back each other up, it will be hard for them to try to pit you against each other. 

Talk It Out Alone

If you disagree with your spouse, discuss it alone. Even if you want to let your spouse know you disagree immediately. Discussing it in front of your child undermines your partners authority. If your child feels that they can gain sympathy from you and avoid punishment, they will always seek you out when your spouse is trying to discipline them. This will put you in an awkward position and can cause arguments with your partner. When you talk to your spouse about your opinions and views alone, you are not put in the position of taking sides. You may not agree with your spouse, but your child doesn’t need to know this. When you discuss this in private, you can make a joint decision on the best way to handle things. This way you can reach a compromise on a new rule and consequence that works for both of you.

Practice Flexibility

Parenting styles may need to be adjusted due to your individual child’s needs, or development. If you are rigid in your views and beliefs, conflict with your child and partner are more likely to occur. The more flexible you can be with adjusting your parenting style, the easier it will be for you to effectively meet your child’s needs. Being flexible can also help you to better complement your spouse’s different parenting style. Then you can use the strengths and weaknesses related to your different parenting styles to your advantage. 

Don’t Make One Parent The Bad Guy

Telling your child to wait until their father gets home, or that their mother is going to be mad at them will not help you be a more effective parent. This is true even if your spouse has an authoritative parenting style and your child behaves when you use this threat. Your child might begin to fear their other parent and only listen to you when you threaten to tell them. If you want to be able to effectively parent your child, you will need for them to listen to you and respect you. If you need your partner’s input in the situation, you can privately decide how to handle things with your spouse and then present a united front to your child.

Having different parenting styles does not have to ruin your relationship. You can use the above tips to help you manage your differences more effectively. If you are still struggling to find common ground, therapy can help. With some effort, you and your partner can parent your children effectively and have a peaceful relationship, even if your parenting styles are different.

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