Ah…love. We fall in love and have kids, and the next thing you know we’re arguing over everything. Why?

Oftentimes it’s because we fall in love with people very different from us. People who fill a gap in our lives.

We look for people who are interesting, exciting, and romantic. Then the kids arrive, and the differences that lead us to fall in love in the first place don’t always make us want to love our partners as parents.

Having different parenting styles is an area where many couples struggle. These differences can lead to resentment, or even a breakup, if they go unresolved.

Conflicting parenting styles can confuse children as they wonder whose side to take, or what the “real rules” are.

Kids can sense your disharmony and learn to manipulate the situation to their own advantage. This leads some kids to grow up to be manipulative adults, which none of us wants.

To get everyone on the same page, and avoid confusion and frustration, here are 8 proven parenting tips to help couples coping with different parenting styles.

 

1. Talk Parenting Strategy

Most people’s perspective on parenting comes from their own childhood experiences. You can call it the ghosts of childhood past.

“My parents raised me like that, and I turned out just fine.”

Trouble is, many couples never actually discuss their parenting philosophies or childhood experiences with each other.

Then they end up frustrated or upset when the childhood styles they revert back to don’t align. Have that conversation!

Related: Top 12 Ways To Improve Your Parenting Skills Today

What did you like about your childhood? Would you do things the same, or differently, from your own parents?

What kind of parent do you want to be? What does reasonable discipline look like to you?

Chances are you won’t agree on everything, and that’s okay. But at least you’ll have a better understanding of where the other person is coming from and you’ll know where you may need to compromise.

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2. Set Rules And Routines Together

You’re setting yourself up for a parenting fail if your rules look something like, “be good, or else”.  Kids need specifics. Unclear expectations and discipline lead to misunderstanding and fighting.

You and your partner should agree on specific rules and routines for your kids and write them down.

You can start by both of you making a list of must-haves. It might look something like this:

I must have…

  • Kids that do well in school.
  • Children that help out around the house
  • Kids that have a regular, set bedtime.

Your must-haves can become the outline for the rules and routines you set up in your house. Once you agree to a list, go over them with your kids and ask if they have any questions.

Also, remember to be flexible. Your house rules and parenting style should change as your kids grow older and can handle more responsibility.

 

3. Determine Consequences

Now you have the rules, you and your partner need to determine what happens if somebody breaks them.

If your parenting styles are really different, this may be an area of friction.

Listen up, because this is important…you’re going to have to compromise.

Don’t back away from this crucial conversation because you don’t immediately agree. It’s important to hash it out!

If you want to be on the same page in front your your kids, you need to get on the same page with positive discipline.

Make a written list of consequences together so you can share them with your kids to set clear expectations.

 

4. Agree On Your Parenting Roles

Let’s be real for a minute. In any relationship, one person is usually a stricter disciplinarian and one is more relaxed. We’re all individuals, it comes with the territory.

What’s key is that each parent needs to be clear about which role they’re taking on, and be okay with it. If not, frustration and resentment can result.

Related: The 4 Parenting Styles: Which One Are You?

You’re a parenting team. Recognize your different parenting styles and don’t fall into the trap of undermining each other.

Here’s a bit of parenting advice you might not always hear, but it works.

Let the stricter parent take the lead in most discipline situations.

You’ve already agreed to the rules and consequences, letting the stricter parent lead ensures they are enforced consistently without backpedaling.

 

5. Back Each Other Up

Just because one parent takes the lead doesn’t mean the other is off the hook. It is critical that you BOTH stick to the plan and back each other up.

The more laid back parent must support and enforce the rules and consequences.

When the stricter parent is supported, he or she can stop overcompensating for the leniency of the other.

The strict parent becomes more relaxed as a result.

When the lenient parent sees the kids are actually benefitting from structure and boundaries, they can be more firm in their own parenting. In this way you move closer together as a couple.

If you don’t back each other up, the message you end up giving your kids is that you can be divided and conquered. Not the message you want to send.

 

6. Don’t Fight In Front Of The Kids

Unless your partner is being abusive with your children, in which case you NEED to step in, don’t interfere or disagree with a parenting decision.

Your kids are smart. They’ll figure out where you don’t align and find ways to take advantage of the situation. Don’t let this happen!

Related: Co-Parenting Tips That Work. Even On A Toxic Ex!

Always present a united front to your kids. If you don’t agree with the way your partner handled something – wait and talk about it later, when you’re alone. This way your kids get the message that mom and dad are on the same page.

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7. Be Consistent

For the whole rules and consequences thing to really stick, you need to follow them consistently. 

Different parenting styles can cause one parent to make the mistake of undermining the limits and consequences set by the other.

Related: Best Parenting Advice: 8 Tips Straight From Moms

Or sometimes, you just feel too tired or overwhelmed to enforce the rules. This will come back to haunt you.

Kids will see the wishy-washy enforcement and think you have no follow through. It’s all the opening they need to try to wiggle out of responsibilities and consequences in the future.

 

8. Don’t Expect Perfection

And finally, agree that consistency and follow-through are way more important than “perfect parenting”.

Everybody makes mistakes. You and your partner are going to make a bad call at some point.

Or lose your cool and yell at the kids, even though you’ve agreed yelling is not how you want to parent.

Related: 21 Ways To Stop Yelling At Kids

Don’t start criticizing or hurling accusations. Wait until the kids are not around, and have an adult conversation. Then move on.

This is your partner, not your enemy. Supporting each other is critical to making your relationship work.

 

Different parenting styles don’t have to ruin a relationship. Simply agreeing you’re both on the same team and determined to support one another can go a long way towards overcoming conflicts.

Talk, listen, be prepared to compromise, and once you agree on rules and consequences; enforce them consistently.

Your kids are watching! How you manage your parenting disagreements will be the model for how they parent their own children.

Also In Beenke: Top Ten Helpful Parenting Books

 

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