In many ways having different parenting styles benefits your children. Life is full of coping with change and accepting differences. When mommy and daddy change diapers, give baths and play differently, it helps your kids realize that different is OK. However, in the world of raising children, everything is not that simple and there are certainly issues that may arise when parents have different parenting styles.
As you’ve surely come to realize, falling in love with a person doesn’t mean that person is going to stay the same for the rest of your blissful lives. And loving a person doesn’t mean you will love their parenting. Even when you discuss and agree on parenting decisions prior to having children, the practical execution is a whole different ballgame.
It is rare to find families where both parents agree on parenting 100% of the time so looking for perfection is just not necessary. After all, consciously or not, much of your parenting styles come from how you were raised. But how you cope with your differences is what really counts.
Some of the biggest issues that parents face when they have different parenting styles stem from nutrition, childcare, behavior and sleep habits. Often one parent has a stricter approach and believes rules should be followed to a t, while the other is more permissive and forgiving of breaking the rules.
Keep these points in mind when dealing with parents who have different parenting styles:
Present a Unified Front
As much as you may disagree with your partner’s decisions, never undermine them (or your partner) in front of your children. When one parent makes a judgment call, follow the lead and have a private discussion about it later. Children should not be put in the middle of parenting conflicts, which can cause them emotional stress. Also, when children witness parenting strife, they will learn that they may be able to manipulate one parent if the other is coming down hard. This may lead to disrespect and other undesirable behaviors.
Talk in Private
When you do have a moment to discuss the parenting issue with your spouse, do so in a loving and collaborative way. You are both care deeply for your children and want what is best for them. Share your differing point of view and ask if you can try your way next time, or at least discuss the best approach for the next situation before making a call.
If your marriage is like most, you probably both feel passionately about your point of view. That’s when you’ll need to come up with a compromise. If one parent wants to allow sugary snacks constantly and the other prefers to institute strict nutrition, set a limit to the number of treats your child can have per week. Or if bedtime when daddy comes home from work tends to be later than usual, allow your child to skip her bath that night to ensure daddy gets playtime without infringing on precious sleep time.
Your children need to understand that both mom and dad are going to enforce household rules. This consistency will help create a mutual respect in your home and not cause your children to lean on one parent over the other.
Sources: Today’s Parent, Love and Logic, and Psychology Today