It’s inevitable: If you have kids, you’re going to disagree with your spouse at one point or another on how to parent them. When (not if) this happens, remember it’s totally normal. In fact, I’d be worried if you didn’t differ in opinion on parenting from time to time. You both came from two different families and backgrounds, right? Your experiences in child-rearing may be similar, but they’re not going to be identical. Read here about the seven things you can do when parents disagree about their parenting style.
When you encounter parenting-style differences, the important thing is how you choose to respond. Healthily approaching parental disagreements can help de-escalate potentially explosive situations. Parenting can really be an eye-opening experience for both you and your spouse, but it can also be an essential opportunity for you to grow as a couple. Let’s take a look at some practical approaches to parenting variations that can help strengthen and unify your bond with your spouse instead of promoting marital discord.
What to Do When Parents Disagree to Strengthen Your Bond and Unify with Your Parenting Partner Again
#1 Present a Unified Front
When you’re not seeing eye-to-eye with your partner on a parenting decision don’t let the kids find out; I cannot emphasize enough how important this is. If your spouse makes a call that you aren’t 100% on board with, make some time to discuss the issue with them later. In the meantime? Back. Them. Up. Of course, this DOES NOT APPLY if the child is in danger of or being mentally or physically abused.
It can be difficult to stand with your partner when you don’t agree, but when you do so in front of your children, this not only shows your spouse that you respect their parental authority, it also shows your child that their parents are a team.
#2 Let It Go
Yup, let it go. Not every parental call is important enough to warrant a compromise or further discussion with your spouse. It’s important to trust in your partner’s parenting skills; not only will this empower them, but it can also strengthen their bond and authority with your child. By taking a step back, you may even find a new appreciation for the effectiveness of your spouse’s parenting style.
#3 Don’t Speak Angrily
If the decision is something significant to you, wait until you’re clear-headed and calm before approaching a discussion with your spouse on the matter. You have a good chance at resolving your differences in a more civil and approachable manner that works for both parties if you wait for the storm clouds to clear first. Both you and your partner will be more willing to hear the other out if you’re respectful and entering into the conversation with the desire to resolve, instead of angrily trying to force your opinion onto the other.
There is no “right way” or “absolute” when it comes to parenting children; this is why compromise is essential to successful co-parenting. When you find yourself at odds with your partner on what direction to take, think of what parts you’re willing to seek middle-ground on and offer those ideas to your spouse for their consideration. Your spouse may, in turn, extend their own compromises. When we throw out the idea that our way is the right way, it can open a lot of doors for growth in marriage.
#5 Empathize but Don’t Sympathize
When your spouse makes a decision that your child is unhappy with, it’s okay to discuss your child’s feelings with them; however, it’s important that you don’t undermine your partner’s parenting in the process by expressing pity towards your children. Instead, convey a more empathetic approach with your child by informing them you understand why they are feeling the way they do, but reiterate that your spouse’s decision is to be respected and that you support them.
#6 Don’t Opposition Parent
It’s common for one parent to be stricter and the other to be a bit more easy going. There’s nothing wrong with having different parenting styles; in fact, this can often strengthen your family as long as it’s used in a healthy way and both parents consistently support each other. Where it can become a problem is if one parent tries to compensate for what they don’t agree with in their partner’s parenting by going in the extreme opposite direction in their dealings with the children. Doing this will not only confuse the children who need a united parental unit, but it also sets the stage for argument with your spouse when they don’t feel supported.
#7 Seek Professional Guidance
You may run into a parenting disagreement one day in which talking and compromising, and every attempt you can think of just aren’t doing the trick; when this happens, bringing in some outside expert help can be just what you need. Sometimes, it can be difficult for spouses to see what the root of the issue actually is, thus making it impossible to move forward from the problem. An experienced professional can help guide you in the right direction towards a resolution that both parents are happy with. Therapy with a professional such as myself should be viewed as another tool you can utilize to promote a long-lasting and healthy marriage.