Differing opinions on parenting is normal! It is possible for parents to have a strong, united relationship and still send a consistent message to their children. In fact, differing parenting styles can even be complementary. None of this can happen, however, without excellent communication and facing parenting challenges head on.
Without proper communication and a willingness to see things from another perspective, parenting conflicts can cause tension and anxiety, which can affect the entire family. These conflicts can result in disconnected relationships, lack of trust and even behavioral changes in children. For these reasons, it’s critically important to learn to be collaborative and find the best solutions for your family.
Here are some ways to work together toward the best outcome:
Create Rules Together
If you find it difficult to agree on specific rules, take time to talk it through. Make a list of the points of disagreement and look at which areas can be compromised on and which cannot. Working through the problem this way, not only models for your kids how to work together and resolve differences, it also helps to establish guidelines for how rules will be decided on in the future.
Once you have come to an agreement, it may be helpful to get the kids suggestions and buy-in on the rules up front, so when it comes time to enforce them, the kids will understand that they agreed to them from the get-go.
Collaboration is key in every situation, so set the tone for your household to be one of flexibility and openness to everyone’s point of view, opinions and feelings.
Agree on Consequences
You and your partner will need to agree on what the consequences will be for breaking the rules that have been set up. Some parents are more lenient than others and prefer to talk things through rather than give an immediate punishment. This is another decision that will need to be made as a team, so expectations are clear when the rules are not followed.
As with any decision, this will require being open to differing viewpoints and calm discussion. If there is disagreement on what the consequences should be for breaking a rule, a compromise may be required. One parent may need to agree that there will be consequences for unacceptable behavior while the other parent may need to understand that consequences will not need to be harsh to be effective.
Back Each Other Up
Once there is a plan in place, it is essential that you stick to it and stay consistent. If both parents are not dedicated to following the plan, the lack of a united front can have negative consequences and can derail the family dynamic. Lack of structure creates insecurity, anxiety and discomfort for children. Do not allow yourselves to be divided and conquered!
Rules may need to change as kids grow and the family dynamic shifts. Flexibility is key to keeping things harmonious. There will need to be times when you work with your partner to re-assess how things are going and if changes need to be made where rules and consequences are concerned. Your children’s personalities need to be considered as well and can change over the years. Your style should be a good fit for the children’s needs.
Give Second Chances
Every parent makes mistakes. You and your partner will both make the wrong decision from time to time. When this happens, talk it through, accept accountability if you were out of line or offer forgiveness if your partner screwed up. There is no instruction manual. Everyone deserves a heaping amount of grace…parents and kids alike. If you have acted in a way you regret toward your child, apologize and be honest about what you said or did wrong. This helps your child learn humility and how to accept accountability for his or her mistakes.
There is no need to let differences in parenting styles ruin your relationship. Remember that you set the tone for your household. Keep listening to each other, compromise when necessary and remember you’re on the same team!