If you and your partner have different ideas about raising your child, you are in good company. Perhaps you insist on your child finishing their homework before watching TV, while your partner is more lenient. Or maybe you have different ideas on your child’s curfew. Whatever the case is, differences in parenting are normal. How you resolve these differences is crucial. Positive resolution can benefit you and your partner as you come to understand each other better. Your child can also learn how to manage differences peacefully.
On the other hand, poor resolution can create stress at home, especially if fighting starts. Children might become confused and anxious when rules differ from parent to parent and they might start to approach the “good cop” parent more than the “bad cop”, creating a division in the family. With all these in mind, let us look at some strategies for coming to a consensus on parenting.
Communicate parenting styles with each other
Start discussing parenting strategies early. Explore how you wish to discipline your child and any expectations you might have for them. You can consider how your parents raised you and how you might want to be similar or different from them. Consider different parenting scenarios and how you might respond to them and why. This can be through observing other parents and children and the type of issues they might face with different responses. By being open to listening to each other, you and your partner will be able to settle differences more peacefully and better understand what each party wants for the child.
Come up with rules as a family together
Discuss family rules with your partner so both of you are clear on rules and consequences. When you come up with this as a team, both parents can enforce them consistently even if the other parent is not around, thus preventing disagreements. If your children are old enough, you may even share the rules and consequences with them and ask for their input. By collaborating as a family, everyone has the opportunity to practice listening to one another and compromising when and where necessary.
Be flexible in parenting
Though rules provide a common understanding of expectations at home, it might be necessary to review them occasionally, especially as your children grow older. More freedom can be given as your child matures to teach them independence and responsibility. For instance, school activities tend to end later secondary schools, and strict curfews may not be feasible. In addition, compromise may be necessary, especially for situations not covered by family rules. By pacing with your children’s development, you and your partner will be able to adjust your rules and styles when the situation calls for it.
Back each other up
Being united as a couple in front of the children is crucial as it sets an excellent example for children and models appropriate behaviour at home. Children might feel anxious and insecure if you and your partner are not united. Even if you disagree with your partner’s decision, talk to them privately and do not over-ride their decision. Going behind your partner’s back undermines their authority and teaches your child that their instructions are less important than yours. Being divisive may cause children to approach the more lenient parent more often and may introduce the idea that one parent loves them more than the other.
Seek help when necessary
There might be times when the above strategies do not work, and you and your partner cannot reach a consensus. Such situations happen, and a neutral parenting coach will be able to provide more insight into your family dynamics and suggest solutions to improve communication.
Change always takes time, especially for critical issues such as parenting. Though the process is not easy, your family will emerge happier and more united when you and your spouse agree on parenting issues. Do not give up, and always remember both you and your partner want what is best for your child.
When Parents Disagree on Discipline: 8 Steps to Harmonious Parenting. (2018, December 31). Positive Parenting Solutions. https://www.positiveparentingsolutions.com/discipline/parents-disagree-on-discipline