Parenting is rewarding – who doesn’t love to see their children grow, develop and learn? However, ask any parent and they’ll tell you that raising a child is anything but easy. From curious toddlers to moody teens, children cause some stress…and things get even more challenging when parents have mixed (and sometimes conflicting) parenting styles.
As a family, you want to provide a consistent, united and loving place to nurture your little ones. But sometimes, different parenting styles seem to undermine that goal. This can cause a lot of conflict at home and probably confuses your child. However, it doesn’t have to be that way.
Everyone is different, so finding a partner that has exactly the same values, expectations and style of raising children is nearly impossible. And yet, many people manage to raise their children successfully. What’s the secret to blending your parenting styles?
Understand how your partner was raised
You’ve probably already met your partner’s family and know a lot about their past. However, knowing those family stories is one thing. Really understanding how those experiences and memories shape a person is another.
Both of you have different families, backgrounds and experiences. It’s likely that ideas about childrearing stem from the past. Parenting styles are ingrained so it’s hard to recognize them, much less change them. (This goes for both you and your partner, by the way).
Try to understand where the other is coming from when they make their parenting decisions, and why you want to make different ones. If you understand why you both feel this way, it will be easier to adjust your styles and reach a compromise.
Discuss your most important values
For some people, spending time with the family is essential. Other people might place extra importance on bed time traditions. Whatever it is, there are some things you probably aren’t willing to compromise.
Recognizing these important values will go a long way to blend mixed parenting styles. It might be difficult to agree on every aspect on a day-to-day level, especially when new situations always arise. However, if you can agree on a few basic things, you’ll both be working toward the same goals.
Focus on showing unity to your child
You’ve probably heard it before, but one of the most important aspects of parenting is being able to create a united front. Staying united creates stability and a clear message for your child.
Unfortunately, decisions about your children bring up a lot of emotion. You might feel like yelling when you find out your partner let your daughter stay home from school even though she wasn’t really sick. Whatever the case, it’s important to take a deep breath and remember how arguing with your partner in front of the kids isn’t the best way to handle the situation. Your children might react badly, internalize blame, or even question your authority. In the moment, it’s usually best to go with the flow and present a united front.
Support your partner’s decisions but talk about it later
Presenting a united front doesn’t mean you can’t disagree. If you think a punishment is too light or too heavy, stick to your partner’s decisions but talk to them about it later. It’s important to follow through to teach your kids you mean what you say.
If you’re unhappy about a decision, talk to your partner in private. Come up with a plan so both of you are clear about what to do in the future so you’re both satisfied.
Calmly discuss some decisions with your partner (and your children)
Hashing it out in private isn’t the only option. If both you and your partner are calm and rational, it may actually be a good idea to bring up some issues in front of, or even with, your children.
Allowing your children to see you speaking calmly and trying to reach a compromise is an important life lesson. People have different opinions, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
If you feel comfortable, you can even ask for your child’s input. You might be surprised to hear what they have to say.
Compromise is key
Being able to compromise in any relationship is the key to success. You won’t always agree on everything and when it comes to parenting styles, and you’ll probably approach parenting from different angles.
However, if you learn to give and take a little to become skilled at compromising, there’s no reason to worry about raising your child. Your parenting styles will blend smoothly.
Speak with a couples’ counselor
If your parenting styles are too different, and you feel like you are starting to clash or send mixed signals, you may want to consider going to family therapy.
Sometimes it’s better and more constructive to talk about your parenting styles and any issues you might be having with someone who can mediate the situation. There may even be something else that is causing the conflict, and talking with a professional can help.
Mixed parenting styles might seem challenging at first, but they’re also a great opportunity for growth as an entire family. Both you, your partner, and your children have a lot to gain from hearing each other’s opinions and learning to compromise. In the end, it might even make you stronger.