Habitot Children's Museum

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Habitot Children's Museum
2065 Kittredge Street
Berkeley, CA 94704
(510) 647-1111
www.habitot.org


When Parents Don't Agree on Parenting
If you are like most families, you and your partner probably don’t agree on all parenting choices, strategies and decisions. And most children quickly become aware of the subtle differences between each parents’ style.

So how to manage so than children do not overly exploit those differences, or become habitually manipulative and devious? And how can partners work toward some sort of consensus, especially when differences are particularly large or difficult to resolve, so that the lack of unity does not cause instability in a child’s life or create unneeded tension in the home or worse, drive a wedge between partners?

Studies by Dr. James H. Bray at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston have found that parents who have significantly different child-rearing styles are more likely to have children with behavior problems than families who have similar styles. Parenting partners need to approach parenting decisions with a desire and a commitment to work together - this is important parenting work that needs to be done. While different parenting styles often reflect how each partner was raised, a blending of those two styles, if done with love and mutual respect, can form the new family’s approach to raising their children.

Here are some strategies to try to create a united front:

  • Start by identifying the aspects of parenting and discipline with which you DO agree. You’ll be more successful by beginning with a foundation of where you do agree rather than focusing energy on the many areas where you disagree.

  • Ask yourselves the question: “What do we want our child to LEARN from this experience or discipline opportunity?” That helps you focus on what will be most helpful to your child. It’s not about winning – it’s about teaching your child to make the best possible choices in the future and learning from his mistakes along the way.

  • Understand that every time you argue with your spouse over parenting, the focus shifts away from your child and instead becomes parent against parent. Back one another up in the moment, even if you don’t fully agree. Later, when things are calm, (and you’re out of earshot of your child), you can discuss better ways of handling the situation, and then present a unified front.

  • If you absolutely can’t agree, you may allow the parent who feels more passionately about it to make the call. If you are the most passionate one, you might say, “I feel so strongly about this. I’d really like you to support me on this, even if you don’t see it the same way.” The parent who disagrees but is willing to go along, must never undermine the other parent in passive-aggressive ways (like secretly telling the child you don’t agree, or making fun of the other parent’s position). Accept the other parents’ call and move on.

  • Agree to disagree. The fact is, there are just some things that you will never agree about. It's better for the children to see that their parents accept they have differences, and work on finding a place of agreement. This way, we can model to children compromise and cooperation while also keeping the peace.

  • If you are having a lot of problems finding peace in your parenting, attend parenting workshops, a parent support group or a family therapist together. Talking to a third party can help you understand your own parenting values better and help you and your spouse develop a shared approach to discipline.
 
Resources:

When Parents Disagree: 10 Ways to Parent as a Team. Debbie Pincus MS LMHC. Empowering Parents.
www.empoweringparents.com/when-parents-disagree-10-ways-to-parent-as-a-team.php#ixzz3ERyg4Nqe

When Parents Disagree on Discipline.Lawrence Kutner, Ph.D. Psych Central.
psychcentral.com/lib/when-parents-disagree-on-discipline/0001233

When Parents Disagree. Julie Ross. Parenting Horizons.
www.parentinghorizons.com/node/140

 
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