3 Ways to Manage Conflicting Parenting Styles With Your Partner

Updated on December 11, 2017
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As both a mother and a stepmother, Michelle explores the complicated dynamics of both modern parenting and stepparenting.

How to handle parenting differences
How to handle parenting differences | Source

Let’s say, for instance, that you're a stay-at-home mom or a stay-at-home dad. You may have spent most of your day feeding, playing with, and disciplining your child or children. You’re probably tired and mostly likely cranky.

Then the other parent in the household comes home from work and the dynamics are completely thrown off the proverbial train tracks.

Perhaps the other parent changes up the rules you've laid down or doesn’t enforce them in the same way you do.

This disregard for your parenting system may be unintentional on your partner’s behalf, but it’s still annoying, right? Everything you’ve spent all day carefully cultivating within the household suddenly comes crashing down and resentment creeps in.

This kind of problem occurs every day in households across the planet. So how do you deal with this? How do you parent with someone who doesn't agree with you all the time and vice versa? How do you sync parenting styles when you’re both coming from different places?

Based on my own personal experience, here are three productive and sensible tips that can be used to navigate this common parenting issue:

Parenting with a partner can be great but also complicated
Parenting with a partner can be great but also complicated | Source

1. Find the Source of Your Issues

As both parents and partners, you'll first need to figure out why it is the two of you are not agreeing on a particular problem. What is the source? Where are each of you coming from both mentally and emotionally.

Many people who become parents have very specific ideas as to what kind of parent they’re going to be with their children. These ideas are usually based on the perception of their own childhood and how their own parents did things.

People who had a strict upbringing where rules were followed and talk-back was not tolerated are often adamant that they will be much softer or more understanding as parents.

Other people who grew up in a more "liberal" environment often have a desire to create more structure within their own household. This isn't always the case, of course, but it's common for new parents to want to deviate away from how their own parents ran the show.

"Many people who become parents have very specific ideas as to what kind of parent they’re going to be with their children. These ideas are usually based on the perception of their own childhood and how their own parents did things."

children have a way of making us come to terms with our own past which can affect our parenting
children have a way of making us come to terms with our own past which can affect our parenting | Source

You and your partner will need to sit down and hash out the potential issues from each of your upbringings that could affect your parenting together.

This kind of discussion undoubtedly means you'll have to deal with excess baggage from your own childhood. This is one of the reasons why parenting can be so challenging for adults. Parenting often requires people to question their old belief systems and think hard about the childhood experiences that may have shaped them — good or bad.

You need to figure out if the way you’re reacting to any given parenting situation with your child is based on your own experiences, emotions, or traumas from your own childhood or if your reacting based on what’s actually best for your child in the moment.

If you and your partner have communicated and know each other well enough, then you should be able to help each other navigate through parenting in a more healthy way, leaving past baggage behind.

"Children thrive on the energy of their parents. They sense when there's hostility or tension. If you can’t agree with your partner on a parenting issue, try to remain quiet until the two of you can find some private time to discuss it."

2. Give Respect to Get Respect

If your partner is saying or doing something that you don’t agree as far as parenting goes, try not to scold them for it in front of the kids.

When parents don't see eye to eye with parenting methods and fight about it in front of the kids, it weakens their authority overall. When children see that mom and dad are not on the same page, it's not only confusing for them but it creates more leeway for them to get away with things or play mom and dad against one another.

Everyone makes mistakes and we all argue in front of our kids at one time or another, but try to make a substantial effort to avoid these confrontations in front of the kids.

Part of being a good parent is growing up yourself
Part of being a good parent is growing up yourself | Source

Children thrive on the energy of their parents. They sense when there's hostility or tension. If you can’t agree with your partner on a parenting issue, try to remain quiet until the two of you can find some private time to discuss it.

When you show up as a team, it creates more respect within your partnership as well as in your kid's eyes.

You have to give respect to get respect. You have to grow up when you're a parent and parenting actually helps many of us evolve into better people as we go along.

"Having different opinions on how children should be raised is something every parenting couple goes through. You have to find middle ground and you have to wade through the weeds a bit to figure out what worth fighting for and what's not."

Parenting isn't easy for anyone, so ease the stress by showing your partner love and respect
Parenting isn't easy for anyone, so ease the stress by showing your partner love and respect | Source

3. Choose Your Battles Wisely

There are oodles of tricky dynamics that can come into play when two people raise a child together.

Perhaps one parent believes in limiting screen time and the other parent doesn't care. Maybe one parent likes to go for bike rides and hikes but the other parent doesn't like to exercise at all. Maybe one parent is carefree and the other parent is super serious. All of these factors will arise when you raise kids together.

Issues you could never have anticipated causing problems before you had kids together will suddenly be front and center causing annoying conflicts.

Do you argue with your partner about issues such as limiting screen time?
Do you argue with your partner about issues such as limiting screen time? | Source

When you're in the midst of raising kids, seemingly small issues can blow up into massive arguments. The stress of continually facing challenges with your kids and always being "on" as a parent can really take it's toll on most adults. This stress can also impact how you react to things.

Having different opinions on how children should be raised is something every parenting couple goes through. You have to find middle ground and you have to wade through the weeds a bit to figure out what worth fighting for and what's not.

If your partner believes in corporal punishment and you don’t — then that’s probably an issue that would be a useful debate to have because it's a sensitive subject to disagree on.

Many differences parents have are minor and can be solved with some compromise. Differences are normal. Not everyone thinks or does things the same way we do. No person is the same and that doesn't change once people become parents.

Again, you have to pick your battles.

Being a good partner is hard. Being a good parent is even harder. If you can find a way to communicate, compromise, and respect one another as people, partners, and parents, the road will be much smoother in the long run.

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© 2017 Michelle Zunter

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